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Słownik Geograficzny Translations


Wołyń - estate by the river Rozanica, district Dzisny, first Polish region, Wierzchnia community, Michalec district, 62 verst from Dzisna, 1 house, 14 Catholics. It first belonged to the Brzostowski family, then to Julia Szyrynowa and then her son, Rudolf. The property included the villages: Paczkowska (25 inhabitants), Pastuchowa (37), Sienkowca or Sielkowca (12), Demidlowo (12) and Wyszatki (58). The male population was 149 and there were 2807 “dziesiecin” manorial estate.


Wołyń – a sacred spot on Murawica land in the Dubienski district.


Wołyń – the area and name. The name Wołyń does not describe a geographical or political area with definite boundaries. The area changed with every epoch in history. It grew or diminished, depending on the political situation of the time and the power of its rulers. Geographically and even historically, it encompasses two varying river basins, which are, however, very much interconnected with one another – to the west, the Bug river basin in its upper regions, to the east the Styr and Horyn: in other words the land from the Wieprz beyond the Slucz in one direction and, in the other, from the high watershed, dividing the above mentioned rivers from the Boh and San far beyond the muddy Poleskie regions of the upper Prypec. With the passing of time, the name covered an area, which politically moved northwards to Brzesc and even to Baclaw far in the south or, almost unnoticed, withdrew from the Bug’s left bank. Who knows if the name was not synonymous with the vague name “Czerwienski strongholds” which covered a much wider area and peoples.


The origins of the word Wołyń are unknown and inexplicable. However, there is no lack of explanations but one thing is certain, the name is very, very old but whether is Slav, is doubtful.


Also doubtful is the existence of a Wołyń castle, which supposedly gave the surrounding region its name. A castle with a similar sounding name is mentioned by chroniclers and is also mentioned by antiquarians as existing at the estuary of the Huczwa into the Bug.


According to Nestor, the original inhabitants of Wołyń were not only called Wołyńians but also Dulebow and Buzan. The Dulebows passed the name on to their descendents but also the memory of their cruel oppressors, the wild Obrows (Awarows). The Buzans were the Dulebows of the west and lived on the Bug water basin just as the Luczans were the inhabitants of ancient Luczesk (Luck), as told by the chroniclers. There is most probably a deep-lying historical reason why the name Wołyń persisted in spite of others available and has endured throughout the ages, to this day.


Since time immemorial, the Wołyńians’ neighbors have been: to the north, in the upper part of the Prypec, the Dregowiczans (related) and the Jacwiez (non-related) on the Bug; to the west, the Sandomierz Wislans: to the south, from the San, and with the Tywercians on the Boh and Dniester, the red Chrobats (close relatives); to the east, the Drewlans, a wild folk from the lower Polesie.


It appears the Wołyńians formed a close knit political unit with the neighbouring folks in the south and were known under the general name of “Czerwinski strongholds.” This changed with the coming of the Waregski Ruthenians, who arrived towards the end of the 1X century (around 882) and settled on the Dnieper, in Kiev. This political unity was administered by the Lachs and maybe even belonged to the extensive Slav area in the west.


However, 100 years after capturing Kiev, the Ruthenians took the “Czerwinski strongholds” along with Wołyń from the Lachs. From then on, Wołyń and its neighbouring folks in the sout,h such as the Horwats and Tywercians, remained, for centuries, a part of the area and belonged to the Ruryka dynasty. This area was created by the Ruthenians and made up of ancient Slav tribes. In time, they came to be known together as Ruthenia.


It was moral ties and not violence that united Wołyń with the rest of Ruthenia. The Ruthenians amassed, without exception, all the east Slav tribes and their area, Slavdom, bordered with the eastern tribes. However, they were unable to take even one of the western Slav peoples. And so Wołyń with a more eastern population remains closer to the Polans from the east as opposed to those from the west. It was not so much a historical tie but more one based on the national religious rites. As a result, the Polish Lachs never again managed to incorporate the “Czerwinski strongholds” into the western area under Piast rule, even under the Boleslaws.


The Wołyń area never lost its individuality to the Ruthenians and neither did the Slav lands and tribes. Ruthenia was not a country, not a nation but a fundamental reality, a community held together by its ruler and religious culture. Within this entity, each and every tribe retained its individuality, lived its life independently, developed according to its needs and became a ruling prince, thanks to the fast growth of the ruling dynasty, descendents of the wise Jaroslaw.


And for the same reason, Wołyń (Wlodzimierz Duchy) was also able to retain its distinguished political and national identity in face of the remaining old Ruthenian lands, under the Rurykowicz.


The older line of the Monomach dynasty, descending from the grandson, Iziaslaw, Mscislawicz ruled here from the first half of the X1 century. Towards the end of the X11 century, Roman Mscislawicz, known for his battles at Mozgawa and Zawichost, captured the neighbouring Halicz lands also. From that hour on, Wołyń became, what was later called, the Red Ruthenia duchy: in spite of internal and external unrest, the Wlodzimierz and Halicz duchies, once again, began to work together thus creating an entirely different group from the rest of Ruthenia, a different country. The obvious result was that after the fall ofKiev, the many-branched Rurykow lands split up into distinctive political units.


A land evolved, under the harsh right wing rule of the ruthless Roman, in the western part of south Ruthenia. He proudly called himself the autocrat of this land, which differed from the loosely united Ruthenian lands. Due to the distinctive social development in past centuries, both the Halicz and Wlodzimierz lands were ruled by boyar magnates and were home to the aristocracy for many years. Roman, however, brutally destroyed it. During the many years while his sons, Danil and Wasilka, were both fatherless and underage, the boyars reached the height of their power. They did as they pleased with the princely lands. They chopped and changed the princes no matter whether they were closely related or not. They brought in foreigners, Poles and Hungarians and, at times, even set themselves on the princely thrones. Lawlessness prevailed throughout the land, private fighting units were kept etc. Under such circumstances, it is not even necessary to mention the fate of the people and Daniel’s competent right wing rule could do nothing to change the situation.

In the meantime, the unexpected Mongolian assault (1224) managed to complete the breakdown of the loosely knit units in Rurykowicz country. In 1240 Kiev fell and the surrounding area was devastated. All who survived these worst possible times headed for the “red lands” and Wołyń using the protection of the Polesie and Carpathian forests, which were so different to the ravaged lands. From this time on, the Halicz and Wlodzimierz duchies (Galicia and Lodomeria) remained one and became now known as Ruthenia, Ruthenia land, previously known as Kiev land. The country now leaned totally towards the west and, in order to survive, joined the western and Catholic political system of the Slav countries. In 1254 it accepted the crown from the Pope and stood side by side with PolandCzechoslovakia and Hungary just as its recently crowned (1252) rival, Lithuania. Despite the fact that the intended religious union did not take place, the political unification of the east European countries against the Mongols could not be established and King Danil’s grave doubts, the newly crowned Ruthenia, from a cultural and socio-political perspective, was more open than ever to western influences. This, along with the boyar magnates, saw the emergence of internal western type changes. This was true for the Halicz duchy as well as for the Wlodzimierz one but Wołyń, despite political unity, usually had its own independent rulers. Why is it that, throughout the years of Lithuanian rule and as part of the Polish Kingdom, Wołyń always emerges as the hearth of vibrancy as compared to the others? It ought to be mentioned here that the deeper hidden answers should be sought in the social circumstances prevailing in Wołyń’s days of yore.


After King Danil’s death in 1264 and his brother’s, Wasilka, in 1271 internal life for the generations to come did not change. The Kingdom or the Grand Halicz-Wlodzimierz Duchy, a complete political system, was either divided up among the princes or remained, for short spells, a unity until the last descendant of Daniel Jerzy ll (1337) died and then it was passed onto a relative, the Mazovian, Bolko Trojdanowicz. After his short rule (till 1340), the neighbours shared it. Kazimierz the Great took the Halicz part together with Belz for Poland. Wołyń, or rather a fair part of it, joined Lithuania thanks to Lubart Gedyminowicz. The sword decided the boundaries. The ancient Buzan regions on the left bank of the Bug were never more part of Wołyń. The division of Danil’s kingdom between Poland and Lithuania, both of which had the same rights to it not only did not appease the contenders but caused contentions lasting centuries. Both sides wanted to scoop up the remainder;Lithuania was willing to take the area around BuzanPoland, with her rights, to overtake the whole of Wołyń and even Kiev, which once belonged to Ruthenia. This situation lead to Jagiello’s coronation and was the most irritable motive during the unification process of Lithuania and the Crown. Once it became a home and even family issue and no longer an international one, it led to the Lublin Union.


Before that happened, Wołyń, under the Rurykowicz, gave Poland only the following old medieval cities: Chelm, Uhrusk, (Uhrowiesk), Wereszczyn, Szczekarew (later Krasnostw), Belz, Buzsk, Brody, almost all on the left bank of the Bug. Lithuania received: not only the more important earlier capitals of independent duchies as Wlodzimierz, Luck (Luczesk), Ostrog, Peresopnica, Drohobuz and Stepan but in addition, Czartorysk, Kamien (Koszyrski),Turzysk, Mielnica, Dubno, Murawica, Mylsk, Peremil, Krzemieniec, Szumsk, Zaslaw, (Izjaslaw), Tychomel, Korzec (Korczewsk) and others. In other words, incorporated were strongholds which later belonged to the Wołyń province.


Wołyń lands in Lithuania. The Wołyń lands taken by Lithuania were different territorially to the ones in the Rurykowicz days. After the abolition of independent duchies during Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk’s reign, the lands, generally speaking, stretched from the Bug to the Slucz and comprised of 3 districts: Luck, Wlodzimierz and Krzemieniec. Moreover, Pohorynia, earlier dependent on Kiev, was included as was the lower Podole with the castles: Braclaw, Winnica and Zwinogrodeni. Although the Wołyń lands became an integral part of the grand Duchy they enjoyed almost perfect autonomy. Apart from feudalism, the Lithuanian authorities did not make any internal changes to the former Ruthenian state. This land, with its specific past and present position, took on a position of extreme importance in the land of Giedymon’s descendants. In fact, it became the focal point of the entire southern Lithuanian Ruthenia. During Witold’s reign, the ancient stronghold, Luck was more or less the second Lithuanian capital after Wilno. It was here, too, that the monarch’s assembly took place in 1429 and on losing its royal stateliness in 1437, during Swidrygiello’s reign, it became the capital of the same land. During his 15 year reign, the last independent Prince of Wołyń, more a vassal of Poland than Lithuania, furthered the development of the country. A foe of Poland, he fiercely defended his land’s autonomy and that of the whole of southern Ruthenia. At the same time, by following the known Polish order, he freely opened the doors wide for western influences. It is also true, that after his death in 1452 and in spite of Poland’s attempts to regain them, the Wołyń lands were occupied by the Wołyń princes and ruled by the starosts, one of whom acted as marshal. However, its general social system was irrepressibly, more and more open to the ever stronger influences of Polish order. So much so, that by the middle of the XVI century Wołyń is seen as emerging from the Lithunian whole as an entirely new socio-political entity. This situation, in turn, led to these lands being encompassed by the crown along with distant Kiev, too.


The importance of that area increased due to its expanse; it covered not only the lower Podlasie with its untamed expanses but also the Kiev Zytomierz.


Although united, the political relationship between Poland and Lithuania, during the Jagiello rule, and their continuous persistent and obstinate dispute regarding the ephemeral Ruthenian kingdom, enabled Wołyń to retain its individuality. This dispute, in fact, led to Wołyń being neither Polish nor Lithuanian. The law was Lithuanian; the gentry regarded themselves as Lithuanians, although few really were. The social standards and traditions were becoming more and more Polish. The memory of the former political land, so to say, Wołyń or Halicz-Wlodzimierz, in relationship to both Poland and Lithuania, did not entirely fade.  In spite of the existence of a general statute for the grand Duchy, Wołyń developed its own laws because of its differing living standards.


Wołyń’s number one dignitary and political representative was the marshal, a position usually held by the Luck starost. He was the hospodar, over all over starosts, in charge of meetings/gatherings and head of the forces. However, in 1566, towards the end of the Lithuanian era, the need for closer assimilation with the crown’s laws called for this position to be taken over by the voivode. The country, due to its expanse, had to be divided up into provinces; Wołyń and Braclaw. Wołyń had its own states administered by lords, bishops, princes, gentry also landed. In 1547, the King was asked, for the last time, that their privileges be ratified. Apart from the grand Duchy meetings, which were attended by the upper nobility, Wołyń also had its own local meetings where internal matters were discussed. Present were: firstly 2 Wołyń lords: from Wlodzimierz and Brzesc, Luck and Ostrog, followed by Luck Catholic bishops then the starosts: from Luck, Wlodzimierz and Krzemieniec and the district representatives and governors and finally the Wołyń princes and landed gentry. Theses were presided over by the marshal or sometimes the commissioner. The distant, still sparsely populated Wołyń-Braclaw Podole apparently did not participate at that time.


In face of Wołyń’s close-knit association with its lands and the Crown in the middle of the XVI century, its socio-political character was, not only, distinct, but to a certain degree, exceptional.  It seemed to represent a large nest of magnates represented by the rigorous feudal princes. Feudalism was a normal part of the socio-political relationships in the Duchy.Lithuania introduced it throughout Ruthenia, which it captured and in Wołyń organised what had in the past been introduced. Under Lithuanian rule the system grew and flourished.


The system’s most notable feature was the number of princes. Wołyń had a large number of them in the pre Mongolian era, during the Waregski rule. Later, when the Rurykowicz line died out, many arrived from the neighbouring Turow-Pinsk Polesie. Danil and his sons overthrew the Polesie-Wołyń princes leaving them only their extensive lands. Their titles were only a reminder of their past glory. However, under the milder Lithuanian rule with its organised feudalism, the princes revived, gained in importance, took an active part in the newly awakened political life and left a lasting image in history. Their large numbers increased with the arrival of the Lithuanian newcomers, Giedyminowicz etc. and united they extended from owners of expansive estates to prince servants. The Wołyń princes’ wealth and power was based, not so much, on the inherited lands as much as the lavish gifts from the Jagiellons. And yet they still grabbed what they could from their host – the King, even as late as during Zygmunt’s rule. Zygmunt Stary alone gifted the following to the princes and gentry: in the 2 districts Luck and Wlodzimierz – 6 castles, 4 manors, 2 estates, 102 villages and smaller parts thereof. In the Krzemieniec district, 1 Kuzmin village gifted to Prince Konstantin Ostrogski comprised of 1 castle, 73 villages, apart from the 11 villages and a small castle Prince Zaslawski received.


The largest royal family in Wołyń was the Ostrogski dynasty, a thoroughly Ruthenian family with absolutely no claims to the Giedymin line. It was proud of descending from King Danil but was probably also part of the Turow-Pinski line from Polesie, as were many families. This line descended from Swietopelek II, son of Iziaslawa, whom Boleslaw Smialy returned to the Kievthrone. The Zaslawski princes (also a Ruthenian family as eventually came to light) were an offshoot of the Ostrogski ones. Prince in Ostroga and Zaslaw rivaled with the afore mentioned but descended from the Giedymin line through Korybut Olgierdowicz. Prince in Zbaraz etc., stemmed from the modest Nieswicki or Nieswiezki, also the Turow branch, which greatly expanded and then divided up into 4 branches: two strong ones Zbarazki and Wisniowiecki and two weaker ones, Porycki and Woroniecki. The Czetwertni princes descended from them and were also of Turew stock. Through time they took the by-name, Swietopelek, to reinforce their claim; they were closely related to the Sokolski and Wyszkowski families. The Rozynski princes and their Rohowicz branch are also Ruthenian although the latter probably stems from Narymunt Giedyminowicz. The more prosperous Czartoryski family is, most likely, Lithuanian as is the Sanguszkow but not the Lubartowicz with its two branches, Kowelski and Koszyrski. The Korec princes of Giedymon blood descend from his grandson, Patryc Narymuntowicz. The related Dubrowicz and Holszanski families are also Lithuanian but go back further in history. Apart from those important families there are a host of lesser princes in Wołyń in the middle of the XVI century, who if stripped off their titles, would be less important than some gentlemen and gentry. It is impossible to count them or arrange them in families as some existed but only a generation or two. The princes in the Luck province are: Kurcewicz, by-name Koryatowicz, former sovereigns of lower Podole, Ostrozecki, Wielicki, Boremlski, Kozikow, Kropotkow from Jelowicz and finally the Lithuanian and Siewiersk newcomers: Sienski, Sokolinski, Lubecki and Massalski.


In face of the diversity of the princes’ importance and descent, the ancient Wołyń boyar machine had expanded and by the mid XVI century its members appeared as gentlemen and gentry. They were the blood and bones, true descendants of the local leaders during the Rurykowicz rule. However, some Lithuanian blood was present and gradually, more and more Polish appeared. During this era, the more well-to-do boyars began imitating the Polish gentry. No longer does one hear the primitive, simple, nickname forms of family names. They now only exist as part of tradition. Antiquated boyar families include: Bohowityn, Bohusz, Bokij, Bolbas, Boloban, Borejko, Borzobohaty, Cata, Czapla, Dederko, Denisko, Hornostaj, Hurko, Chmara, Chomek, Jelo, Kierdej, Kisiel, Kiszka, Kostiuszko, Meleszko, Mokosiej, Myszka, Nepituszczy, Obuch, Serbin, Siemaszko, Sieniuta, Soltan, Szylo and the Lithuanian Gasztold, Gietold, Montowt appear newly-clad. To a great extent, even patronymic names, newly-formed from the former, are seldom to be found. However, some are still around: Bohowitynowiczow, Bohuszewiczow, Czapliczow, Deniskowiczow, Chodkiewiczow, Jelowiczow, Obuchowiczow, Sieniutyczow, Soltanowiczow and Woronowicz but these forms are temporary, with a few exceptions. The names that appear are modeled on the Polish ones and based on the property held. Often the nickname and patronymic name fall away and so we continue seeing double-formed names: Bohowityn Kozieradzki, Bokij Pieczychwostski, Borzobohaty Krasienski, Czaplicz Szpanowski, Deniskowicz Reduchowski, Hurko Omelanski, Chomek Smordowski, Kierdej Mylski, Kisiel Dorohonicki and Nieskinicki, Myszka Choloniewski, Mokosiej Bakowiecki and Siemaszko Rykanski and others. By the mid XVI century, the majority of the Wołyń gentry are bearing the name of their lands such as: Berestecki, Hostcki, Chrynicki, Jelowicki, Kalusowski, Korytenski, Kozinski, Krasnosielski and many others. Some old families retained their nicknames or returned to them as; Borejko, Hornostaj, Kisiel, Siemaszko. With the passing of time, family names, derived from place names, took on a Polish pronunciation e.g. Drzewinski, Krzywicki, Wierzchowski and the Wołyń gentry discard the use of Orthodox lettering in their seals and begin to use Polish coat of arms. This was in keeping with the Wołyń gentry’s socio-political progression. Their position was further fortified by the general privilege of 1501 and the first statute of 1529, reinforced by the second, known as the Wołyń statute, in 1566. All that was now needed and longed-for, by the Wołyń gentry, long since regarding themselves as nobility, in order to be on par with the Crown nobility, was to gently sway away from Lithuania towards the Crown and surrender to the political consequences of the 1569 union. Till then the nobility was still graded having hospodar and gentry landlords, almost entirely subservient to their princes and lords.


In relation to the princes, lords and gentry, the people of Wołyń and even the district towns such as Luck, Wlodzimierz and Krzemieniec were regarded as inferior. Initially, during the Lithuanian era, these towns were of no little importance either as the centres of trade and industry or as strongholds, barring the enemy at times of war. As the citizens organised and arranged during war time, they were also regarded as indispensable. This was also the case in the larger, private towns like Ostrog, Zbaraz, Korzec etc. In face of the warring gentry situation, the larger hospodar towns in Wołyń tried, in vain, to retain their former rights and extensive properties.


Instead they safeguarded themselves from the corrupt practices of the governors and amassed war bounty thus enabling them to obtain the Magdeburg rights for: Krzemieniec as early as 1431, Luck a year later, Wlodzimierz at the end of the XV century, Kovel in 1518, Torczyn in 1540 and Olyka in 1564.


Immediately at the beginning of Lithuanian rule, the lifestyle of the subjects, or Wołyń peasants, whether belonging to the gentry or hospodars, was probably not much different to that of those living in other parts of the duchy.


In the middle of the XVI century and up till the union, Wołyń’s external appearance was primeval, almost idyllic. To the north a strip of deep forest, many rivers, sands and grazing areas amid woodland just as it had been in Polesie forever before; in central Wołyń, more pastures and arable land but no farms as such yet but still based on the Ruthenian system; in the south, endless steppes dotted with farmsteads. The Wołyń lands are protected by three hospodar castles: Luck, Wlodzimierz, Krzemieniec; a vast number of smaller ones: Ostrog, Zaslaw, Dubno, Korzec, Wisniowiec, Zbaraz, Poryck, Kowel, Kamien, Koszyrski, Czartorysk, Klewan, Kukow, Czetwertnia, Rowno, Zwihel and others. There are also a number of strongholds belonging to ancient families: Beresteczko, Hoszcza, Kisielin, Kozin and others. And finally the ruins dating back to the Waregski times: Stepan, Peresopnica, Dorobuz and on the other hand the newly erected Torczyn.


There are many signs, too, of religious fervour among the ruling class to include the preservation of Slav rituals and upkeep of the famous monasteries in Wlodzimierz, Derman, Mielce, Dubno and Poczajow. Even before the Lublin Union, Catholicism was prevalent around Luck and a Dominican convent had existed for many ages in Podkamien.


As for the ethnicity of the Wołyń people towards the end of the Lithuanian era, it represented a people who, over the centuries, had become standardised: it was Ruthenian and Wołyń and nothing else, retaining, as part of the south Ruthenian branch, all of its own characteristics, own language and traditions. It stood out and still does in contrast to Lithuanian or Krzywicki Ruthenia. A people different and individual, separated from its nearest relations in the Brzesk-Pinsk upper Polesie, later annexed to Lithuania. If there were any shades of difference among the peoples of the Wołyń lands then it was in the north borderlands where the Polesie influences could be detected, south east in the Braclaw steppes where Ukrainian influences were noticeable. These belonged to the eastern group of south Ruthenia. The western group comprised the genuine Wołyń people along with the Halicz Reds. The Polish influence had been present in Wołyń for a long time and it slowly permeated the land, firstly coming from the nearby Polish Podlasie, which belonged to the Crown, and then from the Crown itself, in spite of the fact that there had been many impediments and legal obstacles concerning the nobility.


The situation remained such until the Union of 1569, when Wołyń, earlier divided into two provinces, Wołyń and Braclaw, was incorporated into the Crown.


Source: Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego - Warsaw [1893, vol. 13, pp.915-920]


Wojewodstwo wołyńskie is not translated [p. 920-931]


Wolyńska gubernia is not translated [p. 931-935]


This translation, by Jolanta Siestrzewitowska, is used by permission.

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