Petty gentry

Petty gentry. Members of the nobility (mainly in Western Ukraine) who had the legal rights of that estate (see Estates) but did not own serfs, and worked their relatively small landholdings by themselves. They tended to live in compact groups, in whole villages or parts of villages. The greatest number of such villages were in Subcarpathia (particularly Sambir and Skole counties), Podilia (Bar county), and central and eastern Polisia (the Ovruch and Liubech areas). The petty gentry became a distinct social class in Galicia in the 14th century; it consisted mainly of impoverished boyars, the retainers of princes, and the free peasantry of the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. The families of petty gentry often adopted the name of the village they resided in as their own (Bereziv–Berezovsky, Chaikovychi–Chaikivsky, Terlo–Terletsky, Krushelnytsia–Krushelnytsky, Hordynia–Hordynsky, Kulchytsi–Kulchytsky). The Polish coats of arms most often used were the Sas (an arrow above a crescent moon with stars at each end) and Korczak (three horizontal rivers of unequal length). The petty nobility participated in anti-Polish uprisings, particularly those led by Mukha (see Mukha rebellion) and Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny and a number of Greek Catholic leaders and educators came from that class. After the abolition of serfdom they lost their social privileges but still differed from former serfs in their everyday habits and specific traditions. In the 1920s and 1930s, attempts made to Polonize them were largely unsuccessful.

Yaroslav Isaievych

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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