An enormous prairie extending to the north of the Black Sea, containing some of the richest farmland in the world. It is an ancient land, and has been a home for a bewildering variety of peoples and cultures. Because of its vast plains and open terrain, it has also often been a highway for migrating nomads or marauding armies. Here is a sampling of some of the states which this land has hosted.

Presently this covers: Bayanid Bulgars, Belz, Berezan, the Bolokhovo Confederation, The Brodniks, Bukovina, Chernigov, the Cossacks (overall) and the Zaporozhie, the Derevlians, Don, Dorogobuzh-Gorynsky, Dubrovitsa, East Podolia, Galitzia, Glukhov, Kiev (Princes), Kuban, Lipovets, Luchesk, the Maeotes, Munkacs, Novgorod-Severskiy, Odessa, Olbia, Ostrog, Peresopnitsa, Pereyaslavl, Podolia, Putivl, Ruthenia, Shumsk, Snovsk, Stepan, Terebovl, Terek, Tikhomel, TorcheskUzhegorod, Volhynia, Vorgol, Vyr, West Podolia, and Zvenigorod

Files of neighboring regions: (Eastern) Balkans, the Baltic, Belarus, Central Europe, the Crimea, (Minor) Russian states, Russia.


The Bulgar people emerged as an identifiable ethnoi as one wing of the Hunnic relicts who retreated back onto the Ukrainian steppes in the wake of the destruction of the Hun Empire in the 5th century. A Group called the Onogundars established themselves on the Don River and, falling under the hegemony of the Avars, awaited an opportunity to spring free. That occured in the early 7th Century, and the folk, now usually called Bulgaros (after the founder of the Onogundar Horde, Bulgar) lived free for a generation under Khagan Kubrat. He divided his horde into fifths at his death - one wing swung north to the Volga and settled near Kazan; another migrated into ancient Thrace, there to found what would eventually become the modern Bulgarian state. Two others were swiftly absorbed by more powerful neighbours. The last, staying in more-or-less their Don homeland near the Sea of Azov, also fell under the sway of another people, the Khazars...

BELZ A town in modern Lvov oblast of Ukraine about 35 miles (60 km) north of Lvov, on the Ukrainian/Polish frontier. A sub-Principality under Volhynia (1170-1233), it came within Lithuanian influence in the 2nd half of the 14th century, and then became part of the allodial lands in Mazovia (Plock) in the 15th century.

Gk. Borysthenes, Turk. Pirezin)
An island in the Black Sea at the entrance of the Dnieper-Bug estuary, Ukraine. The island measures approximately 900 metres in length by 320 metres in width. It is separated from the mainland (to which it may have been connected long ago) by about a mile and a half of shallow water.

BOLOKHOVO CONFEDERATIONA group of small towns in northwestern Ukraine which, resisting encroachment by Kiev and Galicia, banded together in a kind of free association during much of the Middle Ages. Although "Bolokhovian Princes" are refered to by outsiders, no names have been preserved, and in fact the local rulers seem to have been more military officers on the style of Novgorod, rather than hereditary aristocracy. The towns involved were: Bakota, Bozhskiy, Derevich, Dyadkov, Gorodesk, Gubin, Kobud, Kudin, Mezhibozhye, Michesk, Mikulin, Semots, and Vozvyagl.

The BRODNIKS (Brodnici, Bordinians)
The Brodniks were a tribal group that rose to prominence in the 13th-century.  Their ethnicity is uncertain, as various authors suggest they were Romanian, Slavic, Turkic, or Alanic, or some combination thereof. The Brodniks did not leave any provable material or written traces, which makes their identification difficult. The only known contemporary ethnic description of Brodnici is by Byzantian chronicler Niketas Choniates in his History, who describes them as a branch of "Tauroscythians," and this term he seems to apply to the Rus' people, drawing a distinction of them from Turkic Polovtsians and from Vlachs.

BUKOVINA A heavily-forested (Bukovina is Rumanian for "beechwood") district in the eastern Carpathians, lying athwart the frontier between northern Romania and western Ukraine. Bukovina's population was historically a mixture of Romanians, Ukranians, Jews, Hungarians, Ruthenians and Germans.

CHERNIGOV In northern Ukraine, about 100 miles northeast of Kiev, and about 35 miles from the Belarus frontier.

COSSACK STATES: Overall The Cossacks are a distinct culture of steppe-dwellers descended from a heterogenous mixture of peoples who accepted land from the Russian Czars in return for military service, primarily that of defending or extending frontiers. Normally intensely loyal to Russia, there have been sporadic outbreaks of nationalist feeling among them. The main Cossack regions have been the Don Basin, and areas east and southeast of the Sea of Azov.

COSSACK STATES: The ZAPOROZHIE Among the four original clans, or voiska (The Don, Yaik, Terek, and Zaporozhie), the Zaporozhie were the most purely Ukrainian. Originating as associations of adventurers and masterless men on the steppes in the late 15th century, they were organized by Poland into military colonies charged with frontier defense. Briefly independent in the mid 16th century, their allegiance shifted to the Russian Czars, with whom they continued in the same duties in an often turbulent relationship; by times intensely loyal, at other times rebellious. They were finally brought to heel toward the end of the 18th century. Put under direct government control in 1764, a fort was built in 1770 to oversee them, which later became the town of Zaporozhie (reminding this American author of nothing so much as the American government's response to the management of Indians in the 19th century), and the Zaporozhie were suppressed completely in 1775. Nevertheless, they and other cossacks continued to serve in Czarist armies until 1917. Since they were not hereditary, I give their names in Ukrainian.

The CRIMEA The Crimean Peninsula has it's own page now, located here.

THE DEREVLIANS The Derevlians were a tribe of early East Slavs between the 6th and the 10th century inhabiting northwestern Ukraine between the Slich River to the west and the Teteriv River to the southeast - basically, the region between Kiev and Pinsk, Belarus. Their neighbours were the early Volhynians and the Buzhans to the west, and the Drehovichi to the north. The name of the tribe derives from the Old Ruthenian word for "tree", due to the fact that the Derevlians used to live in thick woods.

DOROGOBUZH (-Gorynsky)A town (now village) in modern Rovno oblast of Ukraine 20 miles (35 km.) east of Rovno. It was the center of Pogorina. A sub-Principality under, first Kiev (1084-1171), then Luchesk (1175-1227).

DUBROVITSA A town in modern Rovno oblast of Ukraine. A sub-Principality (under Turov, then Pinsk) in 1184-late 13th or 14th century.

GALITZIA In the Carpathians, north of Romania, north-east of Hungary, east of Slovakia, and south-east of Poland. A Russian Principality from the 11th century, it became a kingdom in 1253, albeit it was a Mongol tributary in that era. The Kingdom was shattered by internal conflicts, and the region was occupied by Poland in 1340 and annexed in 1349. During the 19th century the Austro-Hungarian Emperors took the style "King of Galicia and Lodomeria", and in fact Galitzia had considerable local autonomy after 1867.

GLUKHOV A town in modern Sumy region of Ukraine, about 75 miles (120 km) northwest of Sumy; a Principality in the latter 13th century loosely associated with Nogorod-Severskiy. In the late 17th and 18th centuries this town was the residence of Ukrainian Cossack Hetmans.

KIEV (The UKRAINE) A vast prairie north of the Black Sea, this region has been dominated for ages by the city of Kiev, which seems to have existed in one form or another from at least the 6th century CE (but note that a wealth of pre-iron age remains have been found on the site, including a huge collection of mammoth bones).

LIPOVETS A town which no longer exists, the site of which is in the modern Sumy oblast of northeastern Ukraine, about 12 miles (20 km.) southwest of Sumy.

LUCHESK (LUTSK) Called Lutsk from the 14th century. This town became the capital of Volhynia from 1349 when Vladimir-Volynskiy was annexed to Poland. In the late 11th-mid 12th centuries Luchesk was a sub-principality in fief to Volhynia. In 1170 Luchesk became independent of Volhynia. In 1228 Luchesk was re-united with Volhynia thereafter. With the accession of the Gediminas dynasty in Volhynia, Lutsk became the capital of Volhynia. At present Lutsk is center of Volyn region of Ukraine.

MAEOTES An obscure Indo-European (possibly Thraco-Phrygian or Cimmerian) tribe living around the Azov Sea c. 1200-500 BCE

MENA Town in modern Chernigov region of Ukraine. Only Pr. Urustay "Menskiy" is mentioned in chronicles of the events of 1408, when he emigrated to Moscow with Pr. Svitrigailo Olgerdovich and many others princes from Chernigov, Bryansk and Severian lands. Based on the term "Menskiy" he might have been prince of Menesk (Minsk, modern capital of Belarus) but the relevant chronicles do not refer otherwise to Belarussian Princes. Urustay was grandson of Gr. Pr. Olgerd of Lithuania and brother of Ostey (known by his leadership of the defense of Moscow against the Tatar khan Toqtamish in 1382). He might have been prince of Mena before Urustay.

MUNKACS (MUKACHEVO) A town in Transcarpathian Ruthenia (Zakarpatskaya Oblast). A major economic center from the 1300s on, Munkacs, like the rest of Zakarpatskaya, has changed hands numerous times over the last 1000 years, eight times in the 20th century alone. The town's population was a mixture of Hungarian-, Slovak-, Ukrainian-, Ruthenian-, and German-speaking elements; it also boasted one of the most culturally significant Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. See Ruthenia for affairs within this general region.

NOVGOROD-SEVERSKIY A city in modern Chernigov region of Ukraine (about 150 km northeast of Chernigov). A Principality 1097-c.1370 (under Chernigov to 1164, nominally - to early 13th century).

ODESSA Odessa is the fifth-largest city in Ukraine and its most important trading city. The modern city is built on the ruins of the ancient Greek colony of Olbia (not to be confused with Odessos, which is modern day Varna, Bulgaria.)In the 19th century it was the fourth city of Russia, after Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev. Its historical architecture looks more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles.

Pontic Olbia or Olvia) A colony, no longer in existence,  founded by the Milesians on the shores of the Southern Bug estuary (Greek: Hypanis), opposite Berezan Island. The site is about 60 miles (100 km.) northeast of Odessa , 18 miles (29 km.) south (on the opposite, western, bank of the Bug) of Nikolaiev, and about 35 miles (55 km.) west of Cherson. Its harbour was one of the main emporia on the Black Sea for the export of cereals, fish, and slaves to Greece, and for the import of Attic goods to Scythia. Its ruins lie near the modern village of Parutino.

OSTROG A town in modern Rovno oblast of Ukraine 25 miles (40 km.) southeast of Rovno. The origin of the Ostrozhskiy family is obscure: some sources claim the earliest ancestor as being a son of Voidat (d.1381, son of Gr. Pr. Keistut of Lithuania who was baptised a Christian as Daniel. Other sources Theodore was the son of a Galitzian boyar Daniil who with Demetrius Dedko organized resistence in Galitzia against Polish troops in 1340-41. Still other sources relate that Theodore was a Rurikovich whose ancestors were Princes of Pinsk. Constantine, son of the last prince, was founder of the Academy of Ostrog. The town was a sub-Principality under Kiev 1100-1101, Lutsk 1215-1223, and a Lithuanian Principality in the 15th and early 16th centuries.

PERESOPNITSA A town (now village) in modern Rovno oblast of Ukraine 9 miles (15 km.) southwest of Rovno. A sub-Principality under Kiev until 1152, then to Lutsk 1175-1226.

PEREYASLAVLA city about 45 miles southeast of Kiev.

PODOLIA A territory to the east of Galitzia in modern Khmelnitskiy and Vinnitsa oblasts of Ukraine. It belonged to different steppe nomads until the mid 14th century, when it was settled by Ukrainians. After the battle at Blue Water (between Lithuanian and Tatar armies) Podolia became part of Lithuania, and four brothers (grandsons of Gediminas) ruled there until 1390's. War between Poland and Lithuania over this region (1382-1438) resulted in partition: the east (with center in Bratslav) remained part of Lithuania, while the west (with center in Kamenets) transfered to Poland and became part of Galitzia.

PUTIVL Town in modern Sumy region of northern Ukraine about 60 miles (100 km) northwest of Sumy. A sub-Principality under Novgorod-Severskiy 1180-1212, it achieved full Principality status 1212-c. 1370, before once again becoming a sub-Principality under Lithuanian hegemony after about 1370.

RUTHENIA A somewhat difuse region in far western Ukraine, generally the south flank of the Carpathian Mountains as far as the modern Romanian and Hungarian frontiers, with an extension along the Slovak/Polish border. The Ruthenian people (their name for themselves is "Rusyn") are a Slavic ethnoi closely related to Ukrainians, Galitzians, Slovaks , and Poles. They are noted inasmuch as they have never possessed a viable state of their own. See Munkacs and Uzhegorod for important cities within this district.

SHUMSK A town in modern Ternopol region of Ukraine 40 miles (70 km.) northeast of Ternopol. Sporadically a sub-Principality under Luchesk.

SNOVSK Town (now called Sednev) in modern Chernigov region of Ukraine 18 miles (30 km.) northeast of Chernigov. It was a sub-Principality under Chernigov, remanded to the descendants of Gr. Pr.Yaroslav III of Chernigov (1181-98).

STEPAN Town in modern Rovno region of Ukraine. Sub-principality (under Pinsk) from in mid 13th-late 14th or early 15th centuries. The last prince's (fl 1387) origins are obscure - he might be a Rurikovich, but there is indirect evidence to suggest that he could be of the Gediminas dynasty, the chief Lithuanian dynasts.

TEREBOVL Town (now called Terebovlya) in modern Ternopol region of Ukraine. A sub-Principality within Peremyshl 1084-1130's, and again under Galitzia 1206-1300's.

TIKHOMEL A town (now village) in modern Khmelnitskiy region of Ukraine 48 miles (80 km) northwest of Khmelnitskiy. Briefly a sub-Principality under Volhynia in 1214, it re-emerged as a sub-Principality under Luchesk.

A locale, about 50 miles (80 km.) south of Kiev, between the town of  Sharki just to the north and the village of Ol'shanitsa to the south. It was a tribal center and later a town, first mentioned in a chronicle under the year of 1093 as the center of the Torkil, a Turkic people who settled along the Ros River and served Kievan princes as part of the confederacy of the Cherniye Klobuki ("Black Hats"). In the second half of the 12th century, Torchesk became the capital of a Knyazi (principality), with its rulers being appointed by the grand princes of Kiev.

UZHGOROD (Ungvar) Ancient town in Transcarpathian Ruthenia, known as Uzhgorod in Ukrainian, and as Ungvar in Hungarian and Yiddish. Like Munkacs it was a major cultural center and economic hub for the region. The name probably derives from the Uzh ("Eel") River. Today it is the capital of Zakarpatskaya Oblast in the Ukraine.  See Ruthenia for affairs within this general region.

VOLHYNIA A region straddling the frontier between southeastern Poland and western Ukraine

VORGOL A town (no longer existing) in modern Sumy region of Ukraine.

VYR At present the village of Viry in Sumy region of Ukraine 30 miles (50 km.) northwest of Sumy. It was the center of Posemia (Chernigovian territory south of river Seymwegded between Severian and Pereyaslavian lands) from 1147 when Kursk was joined to Severian land.

ZVENIGOROD Town (at present village) in Lvov region of Ukraine, about 15 miles (25 km.) east of Lvov. A sub-Principality under first Peremyshl (1084-1144), and then (1206-1211) Galitzia.