Bendery, Constitution of

Image - Bendery Constitution of 1710 (first page). Image - Bendery Constitution of 1710 (last page). Image - Bendery Constitution of 1710 (Latin version, first page).

Bendery, Constitution of (Бендерсъка конституція; Benderska konstytutsiia). A covenant signed on 16 April 1710 in Bendery by the newly elected Hetman Pylyp Orlyk with his officers and the Zaporozhian Cossacks. The title of the document, Pacta et Constitutiones Legum Libertatumque Exercitus Zaporoviensis, indicates that the treaty was modeled on the pacta conventa that the Polish nobility made with their newly elected kings. The document consisted of 16 articles, which can be divided into four thematic groups. Articles 1–3 dealt with general Ukrainian affairs. They proclaimed the Orthodox faith to be the faith of Ukraine and independent of the patriarch of Moscow, designated the Sluch River as the boundary between Ukraine and Poland, and recognized the need for an anti-Russian alliance between Ukraine and the Crimean Khanate. Articles 4–5 reflected the interests of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, who constituted the overwhelming majority of the Bendery emigration. They obligated the hetman to expel, with the help of Charles XII of Sweden, the Russians from Zaporozhian territories, to grant the town of Trakhtemyriv (with Trakhtemyriv Monastery) to the Zaporozhians to serve as a hospital, and to keep non-Zaporozhians away from Zaporozhian territories. Articles 6–10 limited the powers of the hetman and established a unique Cossack parliament, similar to an extended council of officers, which met three times a year. The council was to consist not only of the general staff and the regimental colonels, but also of ‘an outstanding and worthy individual from each regiment.’ Articles 11–16 protected the rights of towns, limited the taxation of peasants and poor Cossacks, and restricted the innkeepers. In the introduction to the constitution, Ukraine's independence of Russia and Poland was stipulated as a precondition. Charles XII, who was present in Bendery at the time, confirmed these articles, as ‘the protector of Ukraine.’

‘Dogovor i postanovlenie mezhdu Get'manom Orlikom i voiskom Zaporozhskim v 1710,’ in Chteniia v Imperatorskom obshchestve istorii i drevnostei rossiiskikh (Moscow 1858)
Krupnyts’kyi, B. Het’man Pylyp Orlyk i ioho politychna diial’nist’ (1672–1742) (Warsaw 1938)
Vasylenko, M. ‘The Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk,’ AUA, 6, nos 3-4 (1958)

Orest Subtelny

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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