Ivan Mazepa – Cossack leader
Ivan Mazepa (ca. 1644-1709) was the Ukrainian Cossack leader, Hetman.
Ivan Stepanovich Mazepa was raised in Poland and educated in the West. In 1663 he returned to Ukraine to enter the military service during the turbulent period of Ukrainian history known as the Ruin. Mazepa reached the rank of inspector general while still in his early 30s.
In 1687 he was elected hetman (chief) of the Ukrainian Cossack state. Mazepa managed to build new schools and churches, but his chief goal became the freeing of his people from Russian domination and the formation of an independent state including all of the Ukraine.
During Russia’s campaign against the Crimean Tatars he fell from favor. He owed his promotion partly to the patronage of Prince Vasily Golitsyn.
In 1704, during the Great Northern War against Sweden, he occupied part of right-bank (Polish) Ukraine with Peter I’s permission.
In 1708, Mazepa made a secret agreement to help Charles XII of Sweden invade Russia and to establish a Swedish protectorate over Ukraine.
When the Swedes were decisively defeated by the Russians at Poltava on June 27, 1709 Mazepa had to join Charles XII in hazardous flight to Turkey. He died there, of natural causes, a few months later.
He remains a controversial figure in Ukraine, while elsewhere he is best known from romanticized versions of his life in fiction and opera.
He was the commander, diplomat, poet and musician, and finally, a lover of women. In addition, he was an art lover, who spent a lot of money on grandiose cultural projects for the country. Hetman Mazepa became a symbol of the desire for freedom for some and very treacherous betrayal for others.
Some people believe that Hetman hid huge treasure. Legend said that after the defeat in the Battle of Poltava in 1709 Cossacks led by Mazepa hid gold, silver, precious weapons in a secret underground passage near one of the churches in Pereiaslav.
– The year of Ivan Mazepa’s birth is still unknown (the possible variants are 1629, 1633, 1639, 1644).
– Mazepa was fluent in Russian, Polish, Italian, German, French, Tatar, and Latin.
– He was the richest man in Europe.
– At the age of 70, Mazepa started a romance with his goddaughter, 16-year-old Matryona Kochubeevna.
– Ivan Mazepa was a hetman for 22 years (8,081 days).
– The film A Prayer for Hetman Mazepa is the most expensive project in the history of Ukrainian cinematography, it cost $ 4 million.