“A man who wants to do something will find a way; a man who doesn’t will find an excuse.” Stephen Dolley
“If we forget the past, we are doomed to repeat it.” “It’s terrible to live in chains and rot in dungeon deep…”
Ukraine is the birthplace of a great number of outstanding people, politicians, philosophers, scientists and warriors. We honour the memory of those whose life was a brilliant example of true love and devotion to their Motherland and its people. The Ukrainian land gave birth to gifted, strong-willed and determined people. It’s time to get acquainted with one of the most-outstanding Ukrainian atamans.
The entire course of the historical development has shown that our countryman Ivan Sirko was among outstanding figures of Ukraine in the 17th century.
Ataman Sirko was a great sorcerer. There are many legends about him and his heroic deeds. Whoever wanted to fight against Sirko, he knew it at once and called his army and sharpened spears and prepared the battle-field. Not without reason the Turks called him the “devil”.
Cossacks were not afraid of anybody until Sirko commanded, as there was no force to win them. Before Sirko came to lead our people had to pay Poles contribution: the third part of everything. But after Sirko had become the ataman, he contacted the Polish king at once. “Well he said, “your Majesty, you may fight, you may reconcile, but we won’t give your people the third part any longer.” “As you like”, the king said, “it is done not by my order.” Sirko gathered all the Cossacks of Zaporizhzhia and fifteen thousand Turks and drove away Poles from Ukraine. He caught up with them near the Slutch and said, “That side of the Slutch is yours and this side is ours.”
When ataman Sirko was dying he told Cossacks, “The one who waters my grave before sunset, will know as much as I do. When there is a great battle against the white Tsar, dig out my arm and carry it in front of the army — the enemy will run away.”
In 1812, the French occupied Moscow. Our guns shot much — but nothing would help. Then one Black Sea man said, “Wait, brothers! It won’t go till we get Sirko’s arm!” They went to Kapulivka (in Yekaterynoslav region where Sirko’s grave is) dug out his arm and went back. After they had run around Moscow with that arm, the French army moved at once from there. Frenchmen were running away so fast that lost there shoes.
Ivan Dmytrovych Sirko was one of the greatest political figures of the Cossacks’ time. Each time he came to Sich, the Cossacks elected this intelligent and brave man their leader. He was the only person who was elected for 22 times!
General or military councils usually gathered in Sich 2 or 3 times a year. It was on 1 January, on 1 October and some days after Easter. The Cossacks elected their administration there. According to the custom the newly elected chief, called ataman, had to refuse twice and to agree for the third time only. Old Cossacks put some sand or mud on his head for he would not forget his place in future. The chief had to thank the Cossacks and to bow to the four sides. After that the Cossacks promised to obey the new ataman.
Sirko’s military glory and talent seem to some of the historians similar to that of Tamerlane. Having conducted about 55 battles and sea campaigns against Osman Empire and the Crimean Khanate and often commanding large joint military subdivisions of Zaporizhian and Don Cossacks, regular troops he never knew defeat. The name of Sirko was well-known all over Europe.
- The national emblem of Ukraine (7).
- Climbing plant, whose fruit is the grape (4).
- A small group of houses in the countryside (7).
- An egg painted in one colour (9).
- A piece of wax, or lead stamped with a design, attached to a document (4).
- One of Ukrainian national trees (6).
- A heavy cavalry sword with a curved blade (5).
- Cossacks’ food made of maize porridge (6).
- A lock of hair growing just above the forehead (8). Cossacks lived according to democratic principles.
Key: 1) trident; 2) vine; 3) village; 4) krashanka;
5) seal; 6) willow; 7) sabre; 8) kulish; 9) forelock; key word: Ivan Sirko.
You are Ivan Sirko. Here are some facts from your biography.
- Date of birth: beginning of the 17th century;
- Place of birth: a village in Kherson region;
- Family: married to Sirchyha;
- Children: 2 sons and 2 daughters;
- Course of life:
1646 – served with B.Khmel’nyts’kyi in France, took part in the siege of Dunkirk;
1648-1654 – fought against Poles; 1667-1668 — was a colonel in Kharkiv;
- – captured Kafa- defeated Tatars at Ol’khivtsi;
- – attacked Ochakiv;
- — destructed the Turkish fortress of Islamkermen;
- — was arrested and exiled to Tobolsk;
1673 – was discharged at Cossacks and Polish ambas-
1675 – Zaporizhian Cossacks wrote the famous letter to Turkish sultan Muhammad W,
1679 – defeated Turks at Chertomlyk Sich.