The Cossack Myth: History and Nationhood in the Age of Empires

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Cambridge University Press, Jul 26, 2012 - History - 386 pages
In the years following the Napoleonic Wars, a mysterious manuscript began to circulate among the dissatisfied noble elite of the Russian Empire. Entitled The History of the Rus', it became one of the most influential historical texts of the modern era. Attributed to an eighteenth-century Orthodox archbishop, it described the heroic struggles of the Ukrainian Cossacks. Alexander Pushkin read the book as a manifestation of Russian national spirit but Taras Shevchenko interpreted it as a quest for Ukrainian national liberation and it would inspire thousands of Ukrainians to fight for the freedom of their homeland. Serhii Plokhy tells the fascinating story of the text's discovery and dissemination unravelling the mystery of its authorship and tracing its subsequent impact on Russian and Ukrainian historical and literary imagination. In so doing he brilliantly illuminates the relationship between history, myth, empire and nationhood from Napoleonic times to the fall of the Soviet Union.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
A call for freedom
15
The Cossack annals
28
The birth of the myth
47
A noble heart
69
The Cossack prince
88
The Kyiv manuscript
108
A matter of time
131
The Cossack aristocrats
225
The liberated gentry
243
A history teacher
261
A missing name
287
A soninlaw
307
The rivals
328
Epilogue
351
Cossack family networks
369

Uncovering the motive
149
How did he do it?
170
The Cossack treasure
188
People and places
207
Acknowledgments
371
Index
374
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University. His previous publications include Ukraine and Russia: Representations of the Past (2008) and The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (2006).

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