Holota

Holota. Stratum of landless peasants that appeared in Ukraine at the end of the 15th century as serfdom was introduced under Polish and Lithuanian rule. The term holota appears in documents dating back to the 16th century. Some of these impoverished peasants resettled in the free territories of the Bratslav region, the Kaniv region, and the Cherkasy region, where they formed a significant part of the Cossack stratum. Later, in the 16th–18th centuries, many fled to the territories of the Zaporozhian Sich, where they constituted the majority of the population. Most became poor Cossacks who worked as hired hands on the estates of wealthy Cossacks or in fishing, salt-making, or chumak enterprises. Some traveled to the Crimea, Moldavia, or Wallachia in search of work. The holota took part in the Cossack uprisings against the Poles and constituted a large part of Bohdan Khmelnytsky's army in the Cossack-Polish War of 1648–57. In the 18th century it played an important role in the Haidamaka uprisings. It ceased to exist as a separate social stratum with the introduction of serfdom under Russian rule after the destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich. The holota is remembered in folk songs (‘Oi nastupyla ta chorna khmara’) and dumas; eg, ‘Duma about Cossack Holota's Duel with a Tatar’ and ‘Duma about Handzha Andyber.’




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