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The fatal love of Bohdan Khmelnitsky, which changed the course of European history
The fatal love of Bohdan Khmelnitsky, which changed the course of European history

Not all wars in the history of mankind were unleashed for the sake of pure and bright ideas: such as national liberation, conquest, or religious. Sometimes a woman became the cause of a military conflict. For where two powerful loving men clashed, two armies often crossed. And no matter how they later justify themselves, and what reasons the triumphants did not invent, no matter how historians misinterpret the facts, they still cannot hide the truth: wars over women have taken place on our planet since ancient times and very regularly. So is the personal life of the famous hetman of Ukraine Bohdan Khmelnytsky is precisely the side of the coin that largely influenced his policy and played a significant role in the history of Ukraine, and not only.

Bohdan Khmelnitsky - Ukrainian hetman, leader of the Cossack uprising

Political and statesman, leader of the Cossack uprising, experienced warrior and diplomat, one of the most educated people of his time, Hetman Bohdan Khmelnitsky occupies a special place in the list of outstanding personalities of all times and peoples. Once a well-known political figure in England, Oliver Cromwell, in his message to the Ukrainian hetman, addressed him as follows: And it was the sheer truth.

Bohdan Khmelnitsky is a Ukrainian hetman

Bogdan (Zinovy) Khmelnitsky was born at the end of December 1795 in Chigirin. His father Mikhail served as a siege, and then as an old man and a Chigirin centurion. It was near Chigirin (now the Cherkasy region) that the elder Khmelnitsky founded his farm Subotov (after the name of the Suba river). It is this farm, or rather its fate, as subsequent events showed, will become a stumbling block and in many respects will decide the share of Ukraine for several centuries ahead.

Turkish captivity

The first time Bohdan Khmelnytsky went down the aisle already in adulthood, returning from Turkey, where he was in captivity when he was well over thirty. Together with their father, they took part in the Polish-Turkish war. As a result of hostilities, the Polish troops were defeated by the Turks. Bogdan's father found his death on the battlefield, and the future hetman was taken prisoner by Turkey, where he spent two long years, which became the most difficult in his life.

While imprisoned, Khmelnitsky studied the Koran up and down, in which he used worldly wisdom, and even managed to make acquaintance with some representatives of the Turkish state elite. It should be noted that Khmelnitsky was a highly educated person who received a very decent education in a Latin school in the city of Lvov, and was fluent in several languages ​​- Polish, Tatar, Turkish, Latin.

Hetman's first marriage

Anna Somko. / Bohdan Khmelnytsky

Bogdan owed his release from captivity, first of all, to his mother, who bought him out for a lot of money from the Turks. Upon his return to the Subotov farm, which belonged to his deceased father, Khmelnitsky soon led Anna Somko, the daughter of a wealthy Pereyaslavl bourgeoisie, to the crown. For two decades of marriage, Anna gave birth to Bogdana 8 children, information about the fate of which, unfortunately, has practically not survived to this day. The exceptions were Timofey, Bogdan's right-hand man and Yuri. As eyewitnesses testified, Anna was a faithful wife to the hetman, a good and caring mother to his children, as well as an assistant in household affairs. One thing was bad - she was in poor health.

Passion Khmelnitsky

By the end of 1647, Anna fell ill altogether.It was then that a young girl appeared in the master's house - Gelena (Elena). According to documentary evidence, she was a special noble birth. According to one version, the girl came from the Bratslav Orthodox gentry. Now it is difficult to assert who she originally appeared in the house of the Cossack Colonel Khmelnitsky. However, it is known for certain that this coincided in time with Anna's illness, when it was necessary to take care of the house, the children, and the mistress of the house herself.

Gelena is the second wife of Bohdan Khmelnitsky

Gelena was very attractive, and 52-year-old Khmelnitsky began to show her attention rather openly. Anna, of course, immediately realized that she had warmed her rival in the house, but it was useless to protest, knowing the harsh nature of her husband.

Historians do not undertake to assert whether Gelena became Khmelnitsky's mistress during Anna's lifetime, or after her death, one thing was obvious: the Cossack colonel intended to connect his life with her, knowing full well that the days of his wife were numbered. Looking ahead, I would like to note that the path to her heart and the conquest of the hand of "Steppe Helena" (as some Ukrainian and Polish historians called her) was not easy enough …

"Stepnaya Elena", a harbinger of trouble

Almost from the time Gelena appeared in the Khmelnitsky house, all their troubles began. Success in the affairs of Bogdan Mikhailovich, his career growth and in the management of the economy in Subotov has long haunted the envious. Many gentry were not against snatching such a tasty morsel. One of these was the vain and proud nobleman Chaplinsky, a native of Lithuania, and at that time a Chigirinsky podstarosta.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky

Even during Anna's lifetime, having once seen the beautiful Gelena in the Khmelnitsky house, he conceived an insidious plan. Chaplinsky could not forgive Khmelnytsky for a long time that he, being a man of noble birth, managed to climb the career ladder so high - to become a large landowner, to rise to the prestigious rank of colonel, to receive recognition from the Polish king and other European monarchs, as well as noble nobles. And now there is also a beautiful young woman in his house … Apparently, just when he first saw Gelena in the house of his sworn enemy, Chaplinsky firmly decided that he would take away from Khmelnitsky not only Subotov, but this woman as well.

Having calculated the time when the owner Subotov would not be at home, Chaplinsky's servants seized the farm, burned the mills, drove the cattle into the fields, which almost instantly trampled all the crops. And Gelena was taken to Chaplinsky's estate, with whom she later got married.

Khmelnitsky, having learned about the lawlessness on his farm, in a rage rushed to the offender with a demand to return both the farm and the woman. But instead he ended up in jail. Soon he was released and this time, almost having lost his head, he was severely beaten by the servants of the elder.

Finally realizing that the enemy is much stronger, Bogdan temporarily abandoned open confrontation. Chaplinsky himself could not feel completely calm while his opponent was alive and free. Several times he sent his people as an old man to Khmelnitsky, but he always managed to stay alive. Then Khmelnytsky began to seek justice in court, but there he was only answered with a mockery, reimbursing only 100 gold (according to historians, the amount of damage was more than 2 thousand gold).

Bohdan Khmelnitsky is a Ukrainian hetman

In the end, having lost the farm, the first wife, who could not bear the troubles that befell her family and died, as well as his beloved woman, Khmelnitsky, along with his 15-year-old son Timosh and close associates, went to the Zaporizhzhya Sich in December 1647. And there he began to organize an uprising. Here on April 19, 1648, he was elected hetman. Then, having led the Cossack army, he entered into an alliance with the Crimean Khan. By the way, since then, throughout the entire Liberation War, the Tatars will be allies of the Ukrainian hetman - corrupt, unreliable, but still allies, without which it was impossible to do.So, already in the late spring of 1648, Khmelnytsky's army near Zheltye Vody and Korsun defeated the crown army led by hetmans Pototsky and Kalinovsky, the main force of the Polish army in Ukraine.

Having scored brilliant victories, Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky turned his troops to Cherkassy, ​​and on June 18, 1648, he sent a message to the Russian Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich with a request to accept the Hetmanate into Russian citizenship. It was at that moment that the course of the history of Ukraine was radically changed.

Bohdan Khmelnitsky's entrance to Kiev. Author: Painting Nikolay Ivasyuk. (End of the 19th century)

So, leaving his native land as a Cossack colonel deprived of his property, Khmelnitsky returned to Chigirin already as hetman and commander-in-chief of the Cossack-peasant army of many thousands. It is known that the advance detachment of the Cossacks, entering Chigirin, the first thing to do was to arrest Chaplinsky, but he fled, leaving his young wife. Gelena was delivered to "daddy Khmel", and soon he will marry her. Khmelnitsky receives permission to marry an undivided Catholic woman while her first husband is still alive in Kiev from Patriarch Paisiy. And as a present for the forgiveness of sins, he presents him with a gift of six horses and 1000 gold coins.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky is a Ukrainian hetman

Having become the wife of the most famous person in Ukraine, Gelena, was far from her husband's political affairs. She was much more interested in outfits, jewelry and balls in high society. She indulged in fun and pleasure, drank along with men. Behind her husband's back, she started an affair with Ivan Vygovsky, Khmelnitsky's ally. And in general, the hetman was not particularly worried about her moral character.

Some facts suggest that Gelena adhered to certain criteria in choosing partners. In most cases, Chaplinskaya connected her life with a victorious man or with someone who had the opportunity to become such in the future. While in the duel between Chaplinsky and Khmelnitsky, the old man was gaining the upper hand, Elena was with him. When fortune smiled at Bogdan, Chaplinskaya, without much hesitation, married him. And when Ivan Vyhovsky went up the hill noticeably, she began to give preference to that, foreseeing that he would be the new hetman … It is clear that such a spouse could not be a reliable support for the hetman Khmelnitsky.

Death penalty without trial or investigation

Somehow preparing for a new campaign, "Father Khmel" discovered that the treasury lacked a large amount. At first, he thought that Timosh took the money. The investigation showed that the heir was not involved in the theft. Khmelnitsky went to war, instructing his son to find the culprits.

Portrait of Rosanda Lupul-Khmelnitskaya. / Portrait of Timosh Khmelnitsky. / The hetman's daughter-in-law and son

19-year-old Timosh, having figured out what's what, soon informs his father that Gelena had an affair with the treasurer and stole the money. Of course, the luxurious life to which Gelena quickly became addicted had to be paid for. And then, without waiting for an answer, Timosh executed his stepmother - in May 1651, she hung her naked at the entrance to the Subotov family farm. The detail about the woman's undressing before her death testifies that the reason for Timosh's hatred for her could well have been a hidden or undivided passion. According to one of the versions, the charges against Gelena were fabricated by the elders' opposition, or personally by the hetman's son.

Khmelnitsky was so depressed by the news of the betrayal and execution of his wife that this is considered one of the reasons for his defeat at the Battle of Berestechko. And according to another version, he himself ordered the execution of the unfaithful wife. What the truth really was, we will certainly never know.

The third wife of the great hetman

Wives of Bohdan Khmelnitsky

The last wife of Khmelnitsky was Anna Zolotarenko, the sister of the famous Cossack commander Ivan Zolotarenko. This wise woman was fundamentally different from the previous wives of "Father Khmel" primarily in that she took part in the affairs of state of her husband. It is thanks to her that the Chigirinsky courtyard of Khmelnitsky has become much more solid and representative than before. Drinks, orgies, drunken brawls were suppressed, and instead of traditional vodka, Anna ordered Hungarian wine poured into beautiful silver vessels to be served to foreign guests.Receptions of foreign diplomats were held at the highest level.

Anna Zolotarenko

The hetman herself was a model of piety and was distinguished by great tact. She asked guests quite pertinent and important questions, delighting her husband with her wisdom. And the hetman became less hot-tempered and more courteous, he infinitely trusted his wife. History remembers cases when Anna independently compiled and published "Universals".

She lived with Bogdan for six years, having learned not only the joy of a happy family life, but also a lot of grief. Her brother Ivan laid down his head on the battlefields, and a little later Bogdan's son Timofey died. In the summer of 1657, the great hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky himself died in her arms from a cerebral hemorrhage. 14 years later, the widow of "Batka Khmel" went to the monastery, taking the name Anastasia.

Continuing the theme of the personal life of the Zaporozhye hetmans, read:Truth and fiction about the personal life of the hetman of the Zaporizhzhya army Ivan Mazepa.

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