Special Sub-Topic: History of the Cossacks
|The Cossacks are a free people living on the steppes and southern parts of Russia. They had no landowners, no taxes, no government land to farm and no hierachy to serve. Yet they were arguably the fiercest and most effective fighting units in the world. When did they first appear to the West?|
In 1814 - London. In Hyde Park in 1814, when the Coalition against Napoleon gloriously celebrated their victory in Europe (although Napoleon would escape exile subsequently), the Cossacks were first introduced to Western public in London. Many were astonished by their ragged clothing, unshaven faces and uncouth manners, but they were nonetheless regarded with awe. A year later Cossacks would sack Paris.
|This Russian Cossack explored Western Siberia and engaged the Tatar nomads in combat successfully, defeating an entire khanate with only a little over 500 men. He crossed the Ural Mountains but turned back after his men became victims of ambushes, starvation and frostbite. His fate had been sealed when he drowned under the weight of his heavy armor. What was this Cossack explorer's name?|
Yermak Timofeyevich. Yermak Timofeyevich was his name! Yermak is a very mysterious figure: nobody knew exactly when he was born (except the fact it was during the first half of the 16th century) nor even his family name! (Timofeyevich is a patronymic, not a family name). Ambitious to expand Tsar Ivan the Terrible's empire and trade, he set forth to the East in search of furs and land.
|Cossack hosts (administrative centers led by a Hetman) were situated all over the Southern and Western frontiers of Mother Russia. Which of these hosts wrote the infamous letter full of abuse and threats to the Turkish Sultan? |
Zaporozhian Host. These Cossacks were of Ukrainian origin who were distinctly apart from other hosts - wearing traditional Turkish dress and shaving their heads leaving only a single lock of hair hanging called a "hokhol". They often fought alongside the Russian armies against the common enemies.
|How did Napoleon Bonaparte describe the Cossacks?|
"A disgrace to the human species". Yes, this is the way the little Corsican described the Cossacks. He also said "this rabble of Cossacks should be treated as we treated the Arabs of Egypt." Perhaps this was colored by the fact that Napoleon's Grande Armée was thoroughly harassed by Cossack units in its decisive defeat in 1812 all the way to Paris.
|What can describe the process of "registration" of the Cossacks which happened in the 1600s?|
Polish intentions to recruit Cossacks. Cossacks were a free people with no landowners and this was to stay so. When the King of Poland sought to expand his domains and started forcibly conscripting Cossacks into his ranks, a large uprising led by national-hero Bogdan Khmelintsky assured their independence. Also, he looked towards the Romanov Tsar for assistance and thus the Russian-Ukrainian alliance was initiated.
|Who was the first to form a Cossack military unit?|
Ivan IV ("The Terrible"). Ivan the Terrible was first to produce Cossack soldiers after his capture of Kazan, the Tatar capital, to protect his large, but insecure borders. The origins of the Cossacks are debated, but the most reasonable view would be that they were a mixture of Russians, Tatars and numerous other minorities. The word itself is most likely of Tatar origin but the ranks were predominantly Russian, nevertheless.
|The Revolution and Civil War in Russia led to the persecution of Cossacks. Paradoxically, which Red general and later Marshal of the Soviet Union had Cossack origins?|
Semyon Budenny. He was one of the five Marshals in the Soviet Union and one of the two who were not executed in Stalin's purges. However, he was dismissed and replaced subsequently after his failures during the opening stages of WWII. It was said that he did "not understand the principles of modern warfare."
|The Cossack dance is famous throughout the world. Stalin once mocked one of his subordinates by making him dance it! What was that famous person's name?|
Nikita Khrushchev. It happened when he still held the rank of head of the Communist Party of Ukraine.
|Against whom did the famous Cossack Pugachev rebel in the late 18th century?|
Catherine the Great. Yemelyan Pugachev led an uprising against Tsaritsya Ekaterina after she tighten Russia's hold over Cossack lands. He also claimed to be heir to throne. He was eventually executed in Moscow after causing widespread unrest in the Russian countryside.
|The Cossacks led a very conservative way of life - being very independent, stern and most importantly, very religious. Which faith did the Cossacks have?|
Orthodox Christianity. Cossacks saw themselves as subjects of Christ and fought in his name. They were very keen on keeping their ranks Christian and often agreed to fight enemies solely based on religious differences.
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