Bohdan Khmelnytskyi was the first Hetman and the Head of the State. He was the Supreme commander of the Cossack Army, the top legislator and the supreme judge. Bohdan Khmelnytskyi was the founder of the Hetman State (1648-1782).
Bohdan (Fedir) Zinovii Khmelnytskyi was bom ca 1595-6 in the family of Mykhailo Khmelnytskyi, an officer under the Polish Crown, his mother was of the Cossack descent. He received his elementary schooling in Ukrainian and higher education in Polish (probably in Lviv). He spoke Polish, Latin, Turkish, Tatar and French. In 1620 in the battle of Cecora he lost his father and was captured by the Turks. He spent two years in Istanbul. In 1622 he was ransomed by his mother. He returned to Ukraine and joined the Registered Cossacks. In 1627 he married a Cossack 's daughter Hanna Somko and settled in his estate in Subotiv near Chyhyryn. In 1637 he took part in the Cossack uprising under the Hetman of the Unregistered Cossacks Pavlo Pavliuk. In 1638 he became a military Chancellor.
In 1638 the Polish king revoked the autonomy of the Zaporizhzhian Sich. The Registered Cossacks were placed under direct Polish military command in Ukraine. B. Khmelnytskyi became a Captain of Chyhyryn regiment. With a Cossack delegation he visited Warsaw with a petition to restore the Cossack privileges. Seven years B. Khmelnytskyi spent in his estate in Subotiv. In 1645 he served with a detachment of the Cossacks (2500 men) in France and probably took part in the battle of Dunkirk. His reputation for leadership became known and king Wladislaw turned to him to obtain the support of the Zaporizhzhian Cossacks.
In 1646 B. Khmelnytskyi received a royal title to Subotiv. In spite of this fact, the Chyhyryn vicegerent Czaplynskyi raided the estate. B. Khmelnytskyi's small son Yurii (1641-85) was severely beaten at the marketplace. His wife died in 1647. In December 1647 B. Khmelnytskyi departed for Zaporizhzhia with a small detachment (up to 500 men). There he was elected Hetman. In 1648 a new Cossack uprising began and turned into a national struggle for independence under outstanding military and political leadership of B. Khmelnytskyi. The Cossacks defeated the Polish troops at the battle of Zhovti Vody and the battle of Korsun. After the battle of Pyliava (now a village in Khmelnytskyi region) the Cossacks (100,000 men) defeated the Polish troops (140,000 men) and besieged Lviv. In November 1648 the Polish government signed an armistice. B. Khmelnytskyi signed a treaty with the Crimean Khan Islam-Ghirei (1604-1654).
In 1649 B. Khmelnytskyi married Matrona, the former wife of his enemy D. Chaplynskyi. In spring 1649 the war began again. In the Battle of Zboriv the Polish troops were defeated. In 1650 B. Khmelnytskyi led a campaign against the Hospodar of Moldova V. Lupul and made him sign a treaty with the Hetman government. On June 18, 1651 the battle of Berestechko (Volhynia) began. On June 20, the ally of B. Khmelnytskyi Khan Islam Ghirei took B. Khmelnytskyi as a prisoner and withdrew to the Crimea. The Cossacks were encircled by the Polish troops.
Only on June 30 the Cossacks under I. Bogun broke the encirclement and withdrew to Kyiv. In 1651 while B. Khmelnytskyi was away his wife Matrona was executed by Khmelnytskyi's son Tymish (1632-1653) for conspiracy. In the summer of 1651 B. Khmelnytskyi married Hanna Zolotarenko, a Cossack woman from Korsun.
On September 18, 1651, B. Khmelnytskyi had to sign the treaty of Bila Tserkva. Ukraine had to be under the Polish rule again. The number of the Registered Cossacks reduced from 40,000 to 20,000. On June 1-2, 1652, in the battle near the Batih Mount (now v. Chetvertynivka in Vinnytsia region) the Cossack Army under B. Khmelnytskyi defeated the army (20,000 men) of the Polish Crown Hetman M. Kalynovsky who fell in the battle.
In spring 1653, he Cossacks under B. Khmelnytskyi together with the Crimean Tatars circled the Polish army at Zhvanets (now in Khmelnytskyi region). The Crimean Khan signed an armistice with Poland.
In 1653 the Zemsky Sobor in Moscow adopted the decision about the reunification of the Ukraine with Russia.
On January 8, 1654 the Pereiaslav Rada (Council) took place and confirmed the reunification of the Ukraine with Russia.
On September 12, 1653, the elder son of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, Tymish, was deadly wounded in the battle during the Suchava (now in Romania) defence under his command. He died on September 15 and the Cossacks had to retreat. Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, the founder of the Cossack Hetman State died on August 6. 1657. He was buried in St.Elijah's Church in Subotiv, which he himself had built.
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