Danubian Sich

Danubian Sich (Zadunaiska Sich). A settlement of Ukrainian Zaporozhian Cossacks, who fled to Turkish territory after the destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich in 1775. They were first settled by the sultan at the mouth of the Danube River in Dobrudja, but there they soon came into conflict with earlier emigrants—descendants of Don Cossacks who after Kondratii Bulavin's rebellion were led by Ihnat Nekrasov to the Kuban and then later migrated to the Danube. The Turkish government ordered the Zaporozhians to move to the Silistra-Rushchuk (now Ruse) line south of the Danube. Dissatisfied, a large number of them (about 8,000) migrated to Austrian territory in 1785 and settled in the Banat (between the Tysa River and the Danube), where they received the right to an elective system of self-government and a fee for their service from the Austrian emperor. They could not, however, get used to the tight Austrian control and the bureaucratic imperial regime, and in 1811–12 returned to Dobrudja. After joining forces with the local Zaporozhian Cossacks to defeat the followers of Nekrasov, these Cossacks settled on a tributary of the Danube—the Dunavets River—and organized themselves on the model of the old Zaporozhian Sich: they had 38 kurins, an elected otaman, etc. The basic occupations in peacetime were fishing and small-scale farming. They were obligated to take part in Turkish military campaigns and were often forced, against their convictions, to fight against other Christians. At the same time the Russian government regarded a separate Cossack formation outside its control with suspicion and called upon the Danubian Cossacks to join Russian military formations. In 1828 during the Russo-Turkish War the Russians found an ally in Otaman Yosyp Hladky, the commander of the Danubian Sich. Taking the military standards and treasury, Hladky went to the Russian side with a small force (1,500) of Cossacks. For this betrayal the Turks destroyed the Danubian Sich. The remaining scattered Cossacks were not able to renew the organized life of the Sich communities. Their descendants still live in the Danube delta. Hladky's followers were organized by the Russian government into the Azov Cossack Host.

Antonovich, V. ‘Poseleniia zaporozhtsev v Banate,' KS, 1882, no. 6
Kondratovich, F. ‘Zadunaiskaia Sech’,’ KS, 1883, nos. 1, 2, 4
Stepovyi, Kh. ‘Z istoriï Zadunais’koï Sichy,’ Ukraïna, 1914
Riabinin-Skliarevs'kyi, Olehsandr. ‘Zadunais’ka Sich v narodnikh perekazakh i pys’menstvi,’ Naukovyi zbirnyk Istorychnoï sektsiï VUAN, 1928
—‘Kinets’ Zadunais’koï Sichi,’ Ukraïna, no. 36 (1929)
Golobutskii, V. ‘O sotsial’nykh otnosheniiakh v Zadunaiskoi Sechi,’ Istoricheskie zapiski AN SSSR, 30 (1949)

Bohdan Kravtsiv

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

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