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Note from pravapis.org editor: this is a rare ethnographic map from the well-known 20th century Belarusan linguist and ethnography researcher Dr. Jan Stankievich. The map was published in New York in 1953, the scanned image can be found at the download section at the bottom of this page. We have not edited the accompanying text, preserving the original style, spelling, and orthography. The only difference is that footnotes are not placed separately, but are embedded in the text, in italics. Please note that Stankevich uses certain peculiar geographic terms and a transliteration system from the Belarusian Cyrillic alphabet that could be confusing to the modern English-speaking reader. Here are just some of the geographical names in question:

White Ruthenia, Whiteruthenia – Belarus
Whiteruthenian – Belarusan, Belarusian
Kryvian – (old) Belarusian (e.g. "Kryvian Great Principality of Polatzak", "a pure Kryvian Republic - the Great Pskow")
Great Lithuanian Principality or Lithuania – The Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Polish Whiteruthenian Republic – Rzeczpospolita, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Mensk – Miensk, Minsk; Vilnya – Vilnia, Vilnius (also river Vyalla)
Polotzak, Polatzak - Polacak or Polatsak (similarly, Slutzak, Kletzak, Prypyatz)
Vicebsk – Viciebsk or Vitebsk; Mahilew – Mahilou or Mogilev
Nowharadak – Navahradak or Novogrudek
Charnabyl – Charnobyl, Chernobyl
Imscislaw – Amscislau or Mstislav
Vawkavysk – Vaukavysk (similarly, "w" is used in other geographic names, e.g. Turau - Turow)
Smalensk – Smolensk (also Mazhaisk; Kaluha; Volha, Aka rivers; apparently Stankevich appears to use the Belarusian transliteration for places that are now in Russia, but that he considers old Belarusian territory ethnographically. Cf. Smalensk, but Novgorod.)
Palese – Palessie or Polessye
Vyaleika – Vilejka

Original title: "Ethnographical and Historical Territories and Boundaries of Whiteruthenia (Kryvia, Byelorussia)"

Dr. John P. Stankievich, New York, 1953

Ethnographical boundaries of Whiteruthenia

Whiteruthenian (Kryvian, Byelorussian) language and ethnographical traits are very distinct, but on the territories which belonged a long time to another state, the Whiteruthenian language and other ethnographical traits came more or less under foreign influence and it became sometimes necessary to prove that such territories are ethno-graphically Whiteruthenian.

In this article it is the language which determines almost exclusively the ethnographical boundaries.

Starting from the lake of Peipus from the point which lies north of town of Pechora, the boundary with Estonians runs approximately along the state boundary directly south so that the towns of Pechora and Izbarsk remain on the Whiteruthenian side; reaching thus the Latvian boundary it goes further in the same direction to the railroad station Korsawka in the Lucyn district which is considered the boundary of the Whiteruthenian homogeneous territory (Beginning from this point the boundary with Latvians and Lithuanians is marked according to E. Karskij ,,Etnograficheskaja karta belorusskogo plemeni", Petrograd, 1918. Of course the administrative sections used by Karskij are those of the year 1918. This division, naturally, does not correspond to the present division, however it facilitates the orientation. Concerning the present administrative sections, they change so rapidly, that it is impossible to keep track of them.). From here the boundary runs southeast within 5-10 km of Sebesh district. Reaching the river Sinyucha, the boundary turns sharply to the west and from the lake Cherza - to the northwest, then it makes an arc-like turn almost to the boundary of the district of Rezhytza, further it goes in a broken line southeast to the boundary of the Lucyn district with the Sebesh and Drysa districts. Between the towns of Rezhytza and Lucyn there are many isolated Whiteruthenian localities. The boundary runs further to the south west, approximately to the line dividing the districts of Lucyn, Rezhytza and Dzvinsk from the Drysa district, in the direction of Dzvina river, 6,5 km west from Prydruisk. From this place the Whiteruthenian boundary follows the Dzvina river to the west to the town of Dzvinsk and then to the northwest to the town of Ilukst. The area east of Ilukst is inhabited by Whiteruthenians. There, exactly on the boundary between the regions of Kurland and Kaunas ends the borderline between Whiteruthenia and Latvia.

From Ilukst the boundary runs south into the region of Kaunas then to the west of the lake Drysvyaty, cutting into the Novoalexandrowsk district.

From the lake Drysvyaty the boundary runs south towards the Vilnya region, to the Dzisna river. Crossing the river Dzisna it goes through the district of Svencyany in a broken line south and west near the Lithuanian counties of Tverech, Haducishki, which are on the western side, Svencyany and Whiteruthenian counties Kamai, Lyntupy, Kamelishki, which are on the southern side. Still further south Whiteruthenians live in a compact mass in the following counties: Stracha, Svir, Shemetava, Nestanishki, Yaseva, Zanarach, Voistama, Dubatova, Kabylniki, Vishneva (all in the district of Svencyany.) Then, crossing the Zhamaicyanka river, the boundary curves through the district of Vilnya toward the west, almost to the town of Kernava, having the Lithuanian counties on the north - Yanishki, Gedroici, Shyrvinty, Musniki and the Whiteruthenian counties on the south - Nyamenchyna, Padbyareze, Maishagola, Salechniki, Varnyany, Resha, Mitzkuny, Kardzeyewcy, Shumsk, Bystrytza, Rukoime, Rudomina (all in the Vilnya district.) Near the town of Kernava the Whiteruthenian boundary moves to the left bank of the Vyalla river and goes in a broken line toward the south, taking into Whiteruthenian territory the counties of Yewye and Troki, on the west the villages Mustynyany, Dawherdzishki, Bahdancy, belonging to the district of Shumelishki and the village Talkava (Hanushishki county) and further Mizhyrecha. It leaves the station of Rudzishki south and moves east and south east to the border of the district of Licla, even crossing it near Padborye. Then it moves along the borderline of the district of Lida leaving on the north the above mentioned Whiteruthenian county Salechniki. Next it runs into the district of Ashmyana whereby the Lithuanian territory contains the county Dzyavenishki (with Lithuanian villages Utkuny, Benakony, Shadony, Staglany, Davyany, Milkuny, Girdzyuny, Kanvalishki) and a part of the Whiteruthenian county of Sedliska with the villages of Hermanishki and Pashele; in this way the Whiteruthenian boundary has on the east the Whiteruthenian counties of Hrowzhyshki, Halshany, Traby, on the south the villages of Sybotniki, Haranyony, Sedliska, Palitnitza (the three last villages belong to the Sedliska county.) The rest of the counties of the district of Ashmyana are all Whiteruthenian. Further along the boundary cuts the northern part of the Lida district: from Heranyony south west almost to the station Bastuny on the Palese railway and on to Zabalace. From here the boundary goes to the north, leaving on the east the village Pelasa and the Lithuanian county Radun. The mixed county of Eishyshki remains on the Whiteruthenian side (Novy Dvor, Paradun, Bratalozha, Harnastale) and Nacha of the county of Kanyava on the whole Lithuanian. From Eishyshki the boundary runs south west, leaving on the eastern side the county of Dubichy, to lake Dub. That part of Lida district situated south from there is exclusively Whiteruthenian. In the northern part of the district the Alexandrova county belongs still to the Lithuanian counties (villages Rakishki, Horadna, Kozakowshchyna, Narkushki). From lake Dub the Whiteruthenian boundary goes directly to the borderline of the Horadzen region where the river Ratnichanka joins the river Nyoman near Druzgeniki.

In this article it is the language which determines almost exclusively the ethnographical boundaries.

The Whiteruthenian language is spoken in the region of Suvalki, in the south eastern part of the Seiny district and in almost the whole district of Awgustow.

In the region of Suvalki the neighbors of Whiteruthenians from north west and west are the Poles. Further along the boundary goes from the river Nyoman in the direction of Kopceva to the canal of Awgustow and along the canal to the town of Awgustow and along the river Neta to the boundary with the region of Horaclzen.

In the region of Horadzen the neighbors of Whiteruthenians are the Poles. There the boundary goes in a southern direction near Suchovola and Karycin westward toward Knyshyn and Khaioshcha (14 km west from Belastok.) then it goes through Surazh to the Naraw river (Up to this point the boundary is drawn according to the above-mentioned map of Karskij.) and from there to Mizhyrecha, in the Bela Padlaska district (Whiteruthenian-Polish boundary, drawn in this article, hardly differs from the Polish ethnographical boundary in the east, found in the collective grammar of the Polish linguists: ,,Jezyk polski i jego historya..." (Encyklopedya polska, t. II-dzial III (cz. II), 1915, 253-254) and ,,Mapa dialektow polskich".).

At Mizhyrecha starts the borderline with the Ukrainian ethnographic territory, and runs in the south eastern direction in a diagonal line to Lubyazh, so that it misses the town of Bela Podlaska and the city of Berasce by 10-15 km. in the south (I have lived some time at Bela Podlaska and studied the language there. Many important peculiarities prove that the language is Whiteruthenian; about 10-15 km south from Bela Podlaska the Ukrainian traits begin to predominate, but even there many Whiteruthenian peculiarities remain.). From Lubyazh the boundary goes to Dubrovitza and then to the point 16 km north from Alewsk. Further on it runs in same south easterly direction to Patapovichy of the Awruch district and from there to the entrance of the river Ceceraw into Dnepr. On the Whiteruthenian side there are the towns of Charnabyl, Kahanovichy, Awruch, Slavechna, Khabnoye and on the Ukrainian side Karascen, Alewsk and Sarny (I explained the Whiteruthenian ethnographical character of the territory, north from the described boundary in my article: Dryhvicy (,,Veda" 1952, p. 162-165, about the language see p. 164, and in the article ,,Dziarvianie" (ibid p. 165-176, especially p. 171-176).). From the entrance Ceceraw into Dnepr the boundary runs to the town of Oscer by the Dzyasna river and along the river to the mouth of Seim, then it goes directly eastward to point below the city of Hlukhaw (I proved this boundary in my article ,,Severane" in ,,Veda" 1952, p. 238-241.).

From there the boundary goes straight south and adds to the ethnographical Whiteruthenia the north eastern part of the district of Pucivel, with the town of Pucivel (I explained the Whiteruthenian character of the above mentioned part of the Pucivel district in the article "Whiteruthenians of the Pucivel district of the former Kursk region" ("Veda" 1952, p. 241-250).). In the South the borderline between the Ukrainian and the Whiteruthenian language is the river Seim and in the East the boundary between the Russian and Whiteruthenian language is the eastern boundary of the district of Pucivel . From there on the boundary of the Russian language goes to the north, 25 km east from the town of Dzmitrawsk of the former Kursk region and somewhat east from the towns of Dzmitrawsk and Karachew of the former Orel region. Then it turns slowly eastward toward the town of Bolkhow, from there to the town of Belew, then along the Aka river to the mouth of Vuhra, further to the town of Medyn and to the village of Matayeva, which lies somewhat east of the town of Hzhatzak. From here the line proceeds on the right bank of the river Hzhatz, at a distance of 10-14 km to the borderline between the former regions of Tver and Smalensk.

The boundary drawn in this way brings into the Whiteruthenian ethnographical territory almost all the former Smalensk region, with the exception of the Eastern part of the Hzhatzak district, the greater part of the former Kaluha region and large parts of former Orel and Kursk regions. This boundary was drawn by the Moscow dialectological Committee (Н.Н.Дурново, Н.Н.Соколов, Д.Н.Ушаков: Опыт диалектологической карты русского языка в Европе (Труды Московской Діалектологической Коммисіи, V, Масква 1915).), to which were later added the findings, of a prominent member of that Committee, I. Golanov (И.Голанов: Несколько новых данных к вопросу о географическом распространении диссимилятивного акания (Сборник статей в честь акад. А.И.Соболевского, АНС Ленинград 1928, б. 479-483).).

Approximately east from the town of Vyazma in the Smalensk region and also in the Kaluha and Orel regions with the exception of the Trubchewsk district and in the Kursk region with the exception of the Pucivel district, the Whiteruthenian language is very much russified, it remained, however, basically Whiteruthenian. The inhabitants of these territories also feel that they are different from the Russians.

From the above mentioned point on the borderline between the Smalensk and Tver regions the Whiteruthenian-Russian boundary passes into the Tver region and along the left bank of the Volha river at a distance of 40 km. Having reached the point opposite the entrance of the river Malady Tud into the Volha river, it runs along Volha at a distance of 30 km and further along in the same north westerly direction to the point opposite the town of Dzyamyansk, 30 km eastward; from here it runs straight to the west to the town of Dzyamyansk. Thus the boundary runs through the Tver region, having on the Whiteruthenian side a group of lakes with the lake Seliher and the towns of Astashkava, Selizharava, Rzheva and Zubtzova.

From the above mentioned town of Dzyamyansk the boundary runs directly westward to the point below the town of Porchova where it turns rather sharply in the north western direction straight to the point opposite the entrance of the river Chornaja into the Peipus lake at a distance of about 60 km from the lake, further straight to the Peipus lake near the mouth of the Chornaja river.

The territory defined in the north and east by the drawn boundary, in the west by the borderline with Estonia and Latvia, in the south by the Whiteruthenian Polatzak and Vicebsk regions consists of the Pskow region and part of the Tver region. According to the recent pre-revolutionary administrative division it includes the most southern part of the former districts of Hdow and Luha of the former Petersburg region, almost all the Pskow region with the exception of the part of the Porchava district and a large part of the former Tver region. It was generally thought that only the large southern part of the former Pskow region, part of Apochka, Vyalikiya Luki and Tarapec districts and a large western part of the Twer region are Whiteruthenian territories and the major part was considered to be Russian ethnographical territory. I shall mention the language of this territory, i. e. of Pskow and western Tver region. The same language is spoken in both of them. The language of the Pskow relics differs since the oldest times from the language of the Novgorod relics, i. e. also from the Russian language, since this is the language of the great Novgorod. The old language of the Pskow region was studied especially by N. Karinskij and A. Shachmatov. Karinskij discovered a great difference between the language of the Pskow relics from the 15th and the 14th centuries. He explained this difference through the influence of the Whiteruthenian language on the Pskow language and he formulated a hypothesis of the Whiteruthenian colonists in the Pskow region in the 13th or in the beginning of 14th century. According to Karinskij it must have been an extensive colonisation, because the Pskow language of the 15th century had all "the more important phonetic and partly also morphological Whiteruthenian peculiarities" and "the Whiteruthenian influence affected the whole Pskow region". He based his thesis about the late arrival of Whiteruthenians into the land of a different Slavic people only on a few linguistic traits, found in the relics, without having any historical or other facts to support it. But his linguistic basis proved illusory. After studying all the facts, Shachmatov stated, that "actually the relics from the 14th cent, have fewer Whiteruthenian traits than those from the 15th cent; however this could have happened in connection with the fact, that the literature in Pskow came in the 14th or in the first half of the 14th cent, directly under the influence of the Novgorod literature, and that there are no facts explaining the proximity of the Pskow and Whiteruthenian dialects through Whiteruthenian settlement in the Pskow region". Shachmatov is inclined to consider "the language tie, binding Pskow and Whiteruthenia primeval, created through the primeval neighborhood of Pskoviches and Whiteruthenians".

Pskow language of the 15th century had all ,"the more important phonetic and partly also morphological Whiteruthenian peculiarities"

Shachmatov has also found that those traits of Pskow relics, which are absent in the present Whiteruthenian language, existed in the Whitheruthenian relics of that time, but they were orthographical traits in both of them, brought from western Bulgaria and Serbia. Besides, it became apparent that such a difference as existed between the Pskow relics of the 14th cent, and those of later times, existed also in the Whiteruthenian relics of the same periods.

But the opinion of that prominent linguist was not heeded and the Moscow Dialectical Commission in its ,,Ocerk russkoj dialektologii" from 1915, referring only to Karinskij, states that Whiteruthenians arrived in Pskow later than the Northrussians, that the dialect of Pskow is basically Northrussian with a Whiteruthenian layer not older than from the 14th century.

The Pskow region was 450 years under the assimilating influence of centralistic Moscow and the language was very much Russified. But in spite of this, a student of the Pskow language of 1930 says: "A11 this does not justify us in placing the Pskow dialect among the north-Russian. This dialect is nearer, in our opinion, to the Whiteruthenian dialects", what coincides with the opinion of professor Buzuk, explained in his work: "Да характарыстыкі паўночна беларускіх дыялектаў. Гутаркі Невельскага й Вяліскага паветаў" (К.А.Иеропольский: Говор дер. Савкино Пушкинского района Псковского округа, ИРЯС, III-2, 1930, бач. 597).

The author of this article studied the old and the present Pskow dialect and hopes to publish that as a grammatical treatise. Only a few conclusions of that work will be mentioned here: With the exception of the groups hl, kl (myhla, pamiaklo) instead of the general Whiteruthenian (myla, pamialo) all the peculiarities of the Pskow dialect are common either to all Whiteruthenian language, or to many of its dialects. Almost all these peculiarities are foreign to the Russian language. After analyzing the traits of the Pskow dialect, no one can doubt, that from the historical point of view it is a pure Whiteruthenian language. In its present state it is also Whiteruthenian, but much russified language. Change of "ц" and "ч" (цалавек), "сь" and "ш" (шадні instead сядні), "зь" and "ж", dissimilating akannie, fusion of е and э, old form of esme in 1st pers. pl. show that the dialect of Pskow belongs to the northern group of Whiteruthenian dialects. Because of its groups гл, кл instead of all Whiteruthenian л, from Protoslavic дл, тл, the Pskow dialect has to a certain measure an individual place in the northern dialectical group, but it differs from other dialects of this group much less than this whole group differs from the southern dialectical groups of the Whiteruthenian language .

Historical boundaries.

The territory of the former Whiteruthenian state was not always the same, and therefore we shall consider the historical Whiteruthenian territory and its boundaries in specific historical periods. There are two main periods in the history of the Whiteruthenian state: 1) A period of individual states and 2) a period of the united state, which was called the Great Lithuanian Principality or Lithuania.

Individual Whiteruthenian States.

More or less documentary history of Whiteruthenia begins in the middle of the ninth century, when the Whiteruthenian tribes were organized in their own separate states. At that time the Normans (Swedes and Norwegians) appeared in the Eastern Europe and shortly afterwards the Ukrainian Kiev became their main center. They attacked the Whiteruthenian territory, plundering rather than levying contributions and letting otherwise the states lead their accustomed life. However, a change occurred during the reign of Vladimir of Kiev in 980, who tried to conquer the Whiteruthenian territory and thus giving an example to his successors, started the wars between the Whiteruthenian states on one hand and the Ukrainians with the Kiev state at the head on the other. The wars with variable outcome resulted finally in the Whiteruthenian victory in that sense, that the states preserved their independence, which fact was legalized at a convention in the Sever town Lubech in 1097. With the exception of Great Principality of Polatzak, which was quite independent, the other states were obliged to help the Ukraine only in case of wars with wandering Turko-Tatars. White Ruthenians fulfilled this duty very rarely and only when forced by circumstances. On the contrary, the regular allies of Whiteruthenians against Ukrainians were Turko-Tatar tribes (Pechenegs, Kozars, and especially Polowtzi).

We shall enumerate the individual Whiteruthenian states of this period.

The Great Principality of Polatzak had three important centers: Polatzak, Vicebsk, and Mensk, the most important being Polatzak. This state always included the territory of three regions - later on in the Russian times a region was called a "gubernia" - the whole region of Vicebsk, a large part of Mahilew region with the exception of Imscislaw district and of the southern part of this region, and a large part of Mensk region. The recently organized districts of Dzisna and Braslaw belonged to the embryonic part of the Polatzak center, just as Vyaleika belonged to its Mensk part of the Polatzak state. In the period of its highest development the Polotzak state included in the west all the western Whiteruthenian territories with Vilnya, Nowharadak, Slonim, Vawkavysk, Horadzen up to the boundary of Poland; in the south a part of Palese with Slutzak, Kletzak and other cities. Also some part of the present Latvia including the principalities Gercike and Kukeinos. With the exception of a few short interruptions (one of them in the 10th century, lasted about 20 years and the others only couple of years), the Polatzak principality always remained an independent state.

The Great Principality of Smalensk occupied the entire Smalensk region with Mazhaisk and Rzhewa which city belonged during the Russian period to the Tver region. It further contained the district of Imscislaw and Tarapetz. Also the part of the Tver region with the city of Klichaw (Astashkava) belonged to the Smalensk principality.

The Great Principality of Sever included the Sever region, i. e. the later Chernihaw and Kursk regions and a part of the Orel region. It contained also a southern part of the Mahilew region. Toward the end of the 12th century, the Smalensk and Sever principalities conquered Kiev and kept it until the Tatar occupation.

The Principality of Turow and Pinsk suffered a miserable fate. At first the Whiteruthenian tribe of Dzervyanians, which reached south to the Irpen river, the right tributary of the Dnepr, formed there a tribal state, called Dzerva with a developed political order. The centers were the cities of Awruch, Iskarascen (now Karascen) and Malin. The Dzervyanians waged uninterrupted wars with the Ukrainian Palanians. When they were conquered by the Ukrainians in the 10th century, they lost their independence. Therefore little later together with another Whiteruthenian tribe Dryhviches they formed a new Dzeryyanian-Dryhwich principality with the center in Turow near Prypyatz. However, when the count Yaroslav son of Vladimir defeated the Turow count Svyatopolk, 1017, the principality of Turow was liquidated. With the loss of independence, Turow was governed by younger Kiev counts. The independence of this Dzerwyanian Dryhvich state was regained in the middle of the 12th century, when Kiev became weak and did not play its former role. The main center was again Turow and a smaller one was Pinsk. The territory of Turow Pinsk principality was Palese.

The Great Principality of Razan was inhabited by the Whiteruthenian tribe Vyatiches. It contained the following regions: recently gubernias: Razan, Tula, Kaluha, part of Moscow and a greater part of Orel gubernias. Razanians fought long and stubborn wars with Moscow. With the exception of that part of Vyatiches territory which lies west from the upper Aka, the language of Vyatiches is Russified. However it retained so many Whiteruthenian peculiarities, that there can be no doubt about its former Whiteruthenian character.

Great Pskow. The great Whiteruthenian tribe Kryviches formed not only their own pure tribal state, the Great Principality of Smalensk and partly Kryvian Great Principality of Polatzak, but also a pure Kryvian Republic - the Great Pskow. Its territory spread by the lake Peipus and along the Vyalikaya river which enters the lake. At first the Great Pskow was a vassal of the Great Novgorod. In order to liberate Pskow, the Great Principality of Polotzak fought long, bitter wars with Novgorod. In 1136 Pskow gained freedom and became independent. It was famous for its commerce and wealth. The inhabitants of Pskow were hostile toward Novgorod as their former conqueror who even after political liberation opposed their independence in church matters, namely their own episcopate, separate from Novgorod.

The Kryviches of Tver. A large number of Kryviches lived in the Great Principality of Tver. They constituted probably about 1/3 of all the inhabitants. Besides Whiteruthenians there lived also Novgorodians and probably Suzdalians. According to our known sources Whiteruthenians were the minority in the Principality of Tver, i. e. they belonged to another state than their own. But on the other side, it is well known that the Principality of Tver was antagonistic toward Moscow and united often with the Principality of Smalensk and Great Lithuanian Principality which supported and defended it against Moscow.

The importance of the aforementioned states in political history of Whiteruthenia is great. They are also significant as an argument for renewal of political independence of Whiteruthenia. We can take the Czech Sudeten as an example. In spite of the fact that in the 11-13 cent, they were settled by a compact mass of German colonists, the Czechs claimed it as their historical territory and succeeded in 1918 to include it into Czechoslovakia. The Whiteruthenian states are even more significant for the renewal of political independence, because they are now occupied not by a foreign, but by their own people.

However there are also weak points here. One of them is that the states were not united, although feeling of national unity and political solidarity existed and sometimes expressed itself strongly. Another weak point is that they existed so long before. Therefore professor Chubatyj holds the opinion in his article printed in 1951 in the Ukrainian newspaper "Svoboda" that as an argument for renewal of the Ukrainian state, it is necessary to point to the Galitzia-Volyn state rather than to Kiev Rus; the former lasted 109 years from the Tatar occupation, i. e. 1240-1349.

The Great Lithuanian Principality.

The arguments about the Whiteruthenian character of the historical Lithuania are given by me in "Veda", April-June issue 1951. Because of its long existence from the middle of the 13th to the end of the 18th cent., because of its political greatness, its territory, cultural level, political order and perfectly formulated law system, the Great Lithuanian Principality is an enormous argument for the political independence of Whiteruthenia. The Great Lithuanian Principality united within its boundaries all the Whiteruthenian regions with the exception of the Whiteruthenian part of the Tver Principality, but even this part aspired toward the union with Lithuania, under which influence, defense and for some time protectorate it was. We can safely say that not one of the nations forming at present the Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics can boast of such a past as the Whiteruthenians have thanks to the period of the Great Lithuanian Principality. Among all the so-called Slavs only Poland can be compared with the Great Lithuanian Principality, in some case being superior, in other inferior. In law, military organization, foreign and domestic policy of the rulers and government in general, Whiteruthenia in the period of Great Lithuanian Principality doubtless was superior to Poland. Up to 16th century it was also culturally superior, later on Poland has a decidedly higher cultural level. Up to the Union of Lublin 1569 the territory of Whiteruthenian state was much larger than that of Poland. Moscow-Russia, of course, through the length of existence, its territorial extent and its later greatness surpassed Whiteruthenia, but in its political organization, law and its culture to the 19th century, remained far behind Whiteruthenia. Concerning cultural level of popular masses, Whiteruthenia even now stands above Russia.

I have explained the territorial development of the united Whiteruthenian stale in "Veda", April-June issue, 1951, to where I refer the readers. Here I shall mention only the annexation of the far situated Whiteruthenian and foreign lands. Beginning with the reign of the Great Count Gedyrnin 1316-1341, Pskow belonged to the united Whiteruthenian state. The rulers of the Great Lithuanian Principality defended it with their military and political power, supported it in church matters, sent there their adherers as rulers and their substitutes. In 1396-97 the Great Principality of Razan was added to Lithuania. Aukshtota, one of the two parts of the present Lithuania was annexed to the united Whiteruthenian state under its first ruler Mindowh. In the middle of the 14th cent, the Ukrainian lands were added and in the second half of this century, during the reign of Olgerd, the Whiteruthenians occupied the northern shores of the Black Sea from the mouth of the Dnepr river to the mouth of Dnestr. In 1411 Samogitia became a part of this state.

In the last quarter of the 15th century, difficulties began for the Whiteruthenian state. It had to fight simultaneously the successor of Tatars, Moscow and mighty then Turkey. Therefore Whiteruthenia lost many of its lands at the end of the 15th century, and beginning of the 16th century. At first it lost the northern shores of the Black Sea which were taken by Turkey. The Great Principality of Razan became dependent on Moscow in 1483 and was entirely liquidated by it in 1520. The Whiteruthenian lands along the upper Aka were seized by Moscow in 1503. At the same time the Smalensk region was lost with the exception of its western part. Also the Bransk and Sever regions were lost with the exception of a small area in the west. However in the beginning of the 17th century Whiteruthenians regained them from Moscow and the state boundaries spread beyond Palanawka and Masalsk, Bransk and Trubchewsk. Such was the situation till 1667, when they were lost by the treaty of Andrusow.

Pskow became dependent on Moscow in 1464 and was subjugated by it in 1509. At the end of 70ies and beginning of 80ies of the 16th century, in the time of war with Moscow, Whiteruthenia occupied almost all the Pskow region, but through the treaty of 1582 only greater part of the Pskow region with Vyalikiya Luki, Kholm and others remained in the Whiteruthenian state. They remained there till the treaty of Andrusow, in 1667.

During the war with Moscow, with interruptions from 1558-1582 and with Sweden and Denmark, the Poles in 1569 took away from Whiteruthenians the Ukrainian territory (with the consent of the Ukrainians) and a large part of Whiteruthenian ethnographical lands i.e. part of Padlyashsha (later districts of Belastok, Awgustow and part of others), southern part of Eastern Palese, (south from the later administrative boundary of Mensk with Kiev region and Volyn (the territory along the river Vuzh with the towns of Charnabyl, Awruch and others) and also the territory which was not occupied by Moscow the western part of Sever (Lubech and other towns). In 1646 this part of Sever region was given back to Whiteruthenia. In 1772, at the time of the first division of the Polish Whiteruthenian Republic, Russia usurped the Whiteruthenian lands situated cast from the rivers Dzvina, Druya and Dnepr (almost all the region of Vicebsk, the northern part of Polatzak, all the Imscislaw region, small part of Mensk and Inflands. With the second division of the Republic, Russia usurped the region of Mensk, part of the Vilnya, Nowharadak and Beresce regions. In 1795 with the third division, Russia usurped the Lithuanian territory and the rest of the Whiteruthenian ethnographical lands with the exception of Belastok which was given to Prussia and the district Bela Padlyaska, which was added to Austria. The Belastok district was annexed by Russia in 1807 and Bela Padlyaska district in 1814 after the war with Napoleon. (Afterwards Russia turned over the Bela Padlyaska district to the Polish Congressional State (the territory which was given to Russia by the decision of the Congress in Vienna.)

All the aforementioned territories which for a long time formed individual Whiteruthenian states or were for a long time part of the united Whiteruthenian state - the Great Lithuanian Principality - are Whiteruthenian historical territories and their boundaries are historical Whiteruthenian boundaries. Among the above mentioned territories, the Whiteruthenian ethnographical ones were much longer a part of their own state than a part of a foreign state.

Map Download

Download the original map, JPEG image, 735KB, 1990x2130 pixels


See also:

- The small-size .GIF remake of the map, the approximate rendering of the Belarus' ethnographic territories by U.K.
- Academician Jauchim Karski by Arnold B. McMillin, from "The Journal of Byelorussian Studies", London, 1967.


- Write your comment


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