Universal (from the Latin litterae universales). An act issued by a government as a proclamation of a certain position, as a political resolution, or for the conferral of privileges. In 17th- and 18th-century Ukraine, various hetmans, members of the General Officer Staff, and colonels followed the example of Polish kings and the Sejm in issuing universals, which dealt with military affairs (eg, the beginning of a campaign, a duty roster), land affairs (eg, the recognition of land claims, distribution of holdings, setting of boundaries, enserfment of peasants), appointments to government positions, the levying of taxes, and declarations of foreign policy (eg, the appointment of envoys, signing of treaties). Some universals served as certificates of personal protection.

Universals were written largely in the hetman's or a colonel's chancellery. The preamble contained the names of the issuing party and the addressee, and the end section included the place and date of issue and a signature. Most universals were disseminated through local administrative offices (one per company), and some were read in public squares or in churches.

One of the first hetmans to issue a universal directly to the Ukrainian population was Pavlo Pavliuk in 1637. Thereafter virtually every hetman, including Kyrylo Rozumovsky, issued universals (see Hetman manifestos). Also notable was the universal issued on 22 July 1655 by A. Zolotarenko, the wife of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, in defense of the estate of the Hustynia Trinity Monastery.

Later, political documents and addresses to the population by leaders of revolutionary movements also came to be called universals. The leaders of the Koliivshchyna rebellion, for example, issued a universal in 1768, calling the peasantry to revolt against the Polish nobility. In 1917–18 the Ukrainian struggle for independence (1917–20) culminated in the proclamation of the four universals of the Central Rada.

Universaly Bohdana Khmelnyts’koho 1648–1657 (Kyiv 1998)
Universaly Ivana Mazepy 1687–1709 (Kyiv–Lviv 2002)
Universaly ukraïns’kykh het’maniv vid Ivana Vyhovs’koho do Ivana Samoilovycha (1657–1687) (Kyiv–Lviv 2004)

A. Zhukovsky

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