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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“If This Should Be My Destiny ...”

Pavlo Teteria’a “shadow hetmanship”
1 February, 2005 - 00:00

(Conclusion. Part One of this article appeared in the previous issue)

After Bohdan Khmelnytsky died and Ivan Vyhovsky was proclaimed hetman (at first temporarily, until Yuriy Khmelnytsky came of age and was proclaimed a full- fledged hetman in October 1657 at the Korsun council) Pavlo Teteria continued to play a prominent role in the political life of the Ukrainian state. He was often mentioned as the second most important official: there were practically no important diplomatic visits or negotiations at which the hetman was not accompanied by the colonel of Pereyaslav. So it is no accident that Teteria helped conclude the Treaty of Hadiach. In the spring of 1658 he had several meetings with the Polish emissary Stanislaw Beniewski in Mezhyrichia, Volyn. On July 5, 1658, they signed a draft document, which later became known as “Teteria’s Articles.” This document formed the basis of the Ukrainian-Polish agreement approved in September 1658 by the Cossack Rada in Lypova Dolyna, near Hadiach. It was the Pereyaslav colonel who had to persuade the Cossacks to accept this pact. One of his expressions from this period became the well-known saying: “A docile calf sucks two mothers.” In the spring of 1659 Teteria accompanied a Ukrainian delegation to Warsaw, where the Sejm elevated him to the nobility. From then on, he remained at the royal court as chief expert on Ukrainian affairs. This may have been a calculated step in his plans gradually to ascend to the highest position in Cossack Ukraine’s ruling hierarchy. For where else could you display your loyalty and reliability better than at a royal court? Residing in Warsaw, Teteria could keep abreast of all the most important developments in Ukraine. The events in Chudniv of October 1660, when the Ukrainian government abruptly changed the vector of its foreign policy back toward Poland, created favorable conditions for Teteria to resume his activities in the Zaporozhian Sich. With the support of the Polish envoy Beniewski, Teteria was appointed general secretary on November 11, 1660, at the council of Korsun. He was in fact entrusted with keeping an eye on the young Khmelnytsky, a clear sign of confidence on the part of the Cossacks. Addressing the Cossacks, Teteria emphasized Moscow’s plans for Ukraine and tried to warn them about the grave consequences of an alliance with Russia. Thanks to his oratorical skills, he made such a strong impression on the Cossacks that they enthusiastically cried out, “May God protect us from the tsar and rebellions!” “Lord Secretary,” they said, “be merciful and teach the hetman right from wrong, for he is still young! We entrust him to you, as we do our wives, children, and property.”

Teteria occupied this office only briefly. In late 1660 he went to Warsaw and spent more than a year at the royal court. Remembering that his first sojourn in Warsaw had helped him assume the influential office of general secretary, this time Teteria decided to vie for no less than the hetman’s mace. Royal service would be a new steppingstone toward this goal. To attain it, he planned to take advantage of the weak position of the young and indecisive Khmelnytsky and enlist the Polish government’s support. He managed to carry out his plan brilliantly. The future hetman succeeded in persuading King Jan Kazimierz that he was completely loyal to the Rzeczpospolita.

In February 1662 Teteria set out for Ukraine on a royal mission aimed at assessing the political situation and determining the causes of Cossack unrest and the real meaning of the hetman’s relations with the Crimean khan. Further substantiation of Teteria’s influence on the young Khmelnytsky is the fact that, after arriving in Chyhyryn in late March, he managed to persuade the hetman to rescind his edict ousting Polish managers from royal and nobles’ estates in Ukraine. In all probability, Teteria believed that this edict would heighten tensions between Ukraine and Poland and would have extremely negative consequences for the Ukrainian state in the growing sociopolitical crisis. It may have been on Teteria’s advice that the hetman’s new edict stressed that the royal government’s demand would only be met if the king promised to leave the treaties of Hadiach and Slobodyshche in force. Teteria obviously believed that the Hadiach Articles, of which he was one of the creators, should be implemented as a true model of relations between Ukraine and Poland. Teteria, as an expert in Ukrainian affairs in the Polish government and the king’s representative at the hetman’s court, soon found himself at the hub of political life in Cossack Ukraine. His letters to Warsaw give a clear indication of the situation in the state. For instance, in a letter to the king, dated September 13, 1662, he pointed to Yuriy Khmelnytsky’s inability to control the situation in Ukraine: “Things are in disorder here because, although the hetman is a well-intentioned and diligent person, the army refuses to obey him.” The hetman himself also saw this. By October 17, 1662, H. Lysnytsky brought a letter to Warsaw from Khmelnytsky, requesting permission to offer his resignation. Thus, there are ample grounds to claim that by October 1662 the young hetman had in fact ceased to rule the state, perhaps under pressure from Teteria. Real power was grabbed by his experienced relative, who had also obtained the Polish king’s sanction.

One of Teteria’s objectives was to try to curb the unruliness of the Crimean khans on Ukrainian lands. In his opinion, the Tatars were one of the most destabilizing factors that affected the morale of Ukrainian society, and Yury Khmelnytsky’s failure to protect the populace from the tyrannical horde was one of the reasons why he lost his authority. From September 1662 onwards, Teteria, in his capacity as the king’s representative, repeatedly sent letters to Warsaw, in which he described the anti-Ukrainian and anti-Polish actions of the Tatars, who “...have entire cities and districts at their mercy, [and are] wreaking havoc, looting and killing people.” Teteria even contemplated leading a military force to defend Polissia from the horde. In a letter of November 20, 1662, he wrote that the Tatars had decided to spend the winter in Ukraine, which they had never done before, and that he had no means to counter this. Also in the fall of 1662 the future hetman sought to win over influential representatives from among Cossack officers, the nobility and the clergy, resorting to promises as well as to downright bribery. It may be assumed, however, that what finally influenced the Cossacks’ attitude was the fact that as Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s godson and son-in-law, the future hetman belonged, in the words of Y. Dashkevych, to “the Khmelnytsky clan”. Apparently, Warsaw also got wind of Teteria’s attempts to lay the groundwork for his official election as hetman, but Teteria responded to this in quite a diplomatic manner. He announced that, although many colonels wished to see him, specifically, in the hetman’s seat, he was not trying to win the Cossacks’ disposition in advance because, in his view, this might result in the loss of the Cossacks’ trust. Still, in our opinion, the main factor that allowed Teteria to obtain the hetmanship and enlist the support of most Right Bank Cossacks was the idea of healing the rift in Ukraine. He was officially elected hetman on January 1-2, 1663, during the Chyhyryn council. In a letter dated December 26, 1662, the Polish delegate J. Swiderski noted that the main contenders for the hetmanship were Hryhoriy Hulianytsky, Mykhailo Khanenko, Petro Doroshenko, and Pavlo Teteria. The latter managed to take the greatest possible advantage of the pre-election situation and enlist the support of not only Poland but also the Crimea. For example, on the very eve of the election, he personally visited the Tatar sultan and suggested that he send a representative to the Cossack council, although earlier he had spoken out against the presence of Tatars in Ukraine. This is a convincing demonstration of Teteria’s ability to carry out a political maneuver and find a way to achieve his goal. Obviously, he had to promise something to the Crimean leadership, which allowed the latter to count on cooperation with the future Ukrainian hetman.

A bitter contest between the two main candidates, Hulianytsky and Teteria, ended in favor of the latter whom Kyiv Metropolitan Dyonisy Balaban swore in as hetman. Teteria managed to present his election in such a way that both Poland and the Crimea considered themselves the makers of the new hetman. This situation fully suited the hetman, who was not going to show a marked preference for either of his neighbors — recall his well-known dictum, “A docile calf sucks two mothers.”

By Volodymyr HAZIN, Candidate of Sciences (History); Associate Professor, Department of Ukrainian History, Kamyanets-Podilsky State University