Start your quest through 16-18th century European geographical maps right now!
Ukrainian Lands at
the 16-18th Centuries Maps
Unique project Vkraina.com
vkraina.com is an online multimedia presentation, based on private collection of European maps of 16th-18th centuries. Initiated by Kyivstar, the national telecom operator, vkraina.com aims to popularize Ukrainian history with the help of modern multimedia.
The main purpose of this project is to shed a light on Ukrainian cartography from the times of European Renaissance till the Cossack State disintegration in 18th century. Here, the genuine historic materials of this electronic archive illustrate a topic that is somehow a bit forgotten, restricted in the past, and yet
not enough explored and popularized in Ukraine nowadays.
The world history is often rethought and might contain many contradictions but true knowledge of certain events and their evaluation in historic retrospective can still be gained through documented data. The maps are one of the most available documentary sources. It is interesting to analyze and compare cartographic sources of different times, different political formations and different circumstances.
The maps, selected for the project, are of great importance for the history of Ukraine’s international relations and provide a generalized perception of the Ukrainian lands status as seen by the Europeans in 16th-18th centuries.
European Mapping of Ukrainian Lands
Since the times of its origin, cartography has been one of the main sources of diverse knowledge about lands and territories: landscape features, natural characteristics, political and national system, borderlines, everything can be learnt from a map. Ukrainian lands from ancient times were mapped far beyond its borders, mainly in Holland, France, Germany, and England – the scientific centers of the epoch. Unfortunately, we could not rely on the needed scientific basis or political demand in our own boundaries after the Mongols invaded Rus`. That is why it is possible to reach the deepness of Ukrainian history only with the help of European maps and their point of view. Europeans of 16-18th centuries had rather primitive knowledge about our
land. Only few researchers, scientists and even travelers reached the middle of Rus' territories, and even less could claim floating down the Dnieper River or Bug. We can simply envy the bravery and courage the renaissance researchers had, for the territories from Kaniv through the Black Forest and up to immense steppes near the Black Sea have been a constant danger for one’s life and freedom.
The first mentions of the "Ukraine" name on the maps by Krzysztof Radziwiłł and Guilla- ume le Vasseur de Beauplan
One of the chapters in Guillaume de Beauplan’s Desciption of Ukraine says, “100 or even 1000 people cannot feel safe here. Even the armies need to move forward in a peculiar strict order. These
lands are invaded by the Tatars that never settle down but keep on sneaking all over the endless plains; they usually ride in squats of 5-6 thousand, sometimes 10 thousand even”. Beauplan spent 17 years in Ukraine, and during this period he not only managed to built numerous fortresses for Polish Crown, but also created an accurate and neat both geographical and artistic description of the lands between Transilvania and Moscovia, under the name Ukraine. The first edition of Description of Ukraine included a detailed map was published in Rouen in 1651. It remained the main source of cartographic knowledge about Ukraine for the next 200 years. Before Beauplan, the territories known as Volun', Podillya and Chervona (Red) Rus' were explored in 1586, by an order of Lithuanian ruler, Krzysztof Radziwiłł. No wonder we have a few cartographic artifacts of that period as the
Wild Plain (or Dzike Pole by Beauplan), the lands from Cherkasy down the Dnieper flow, were not welcoming for travelers or settled life.
Ukraine at the Map of Radziwiłł
In 1613, a fabulously crafted and extremely detailed Lithuanian map, the result of long research work inspired by Krzysztof Radziwiłł, was published. It also included an important annex – a map of Dnieper River flow from Cherkassy down to the Black Sea. This masterpiece of late Renaissance scholar is of fundamental importance for the history of Ukrainian cartography. Being a detailed and geographically correct depiction of Ukrainian lands, villages, towns, rivers, and roads, the Map of Lithuania by Radziwill also is the first cartographic source that stated the name "Ukraine",
marked in the central Dnieper, between cities Rzhyshchev and Kaniv. Before that, the lands of central and western Ukraine were called only as Rus’ (Russia), Volyn’, Podillya according to a tradition. All of the earlier cases of using the name "Ukraine" on European maps are seriously doubtful and probably unreliable.
Maps and Politics
At all times mapping was an instrument of manipulation and political intrigues, and the history of Ukrainian land cartography is no exception here. Some of the neighbors repeatedly tried to include certain lands to their own states and officially state it in a valid source as the map was. As far as only the cartographers certified by the monarchs had the right to publish maps, the political message of the treatises was presupposed to fit in with
the royal will. Constant division of our lands and confrontations between Poland, Lithuania, Moscowia, and Tatars, permanent re-owning the positions and territories by Zaporozhian Cossacks during 16-17th centuries resulted in poor knowledge of our land by the Europeans. Consequently, it caused certain, and sometimes complete chaos in the minds of European geographers that tried to mark the huge space between the Carpathians and Moscowia. Yet today, despite those objective circumstances, we should be grateful to all of the European scientists, cartographers, geographers and engravers who managed to spotlight the geographic and political aspects of the lands we nowadays call Ukraine. Counting all of the anxiety during Cossacks origin, during the formation of the Cossack State, and Ukrainian struggle for political independence from Poland, Tatars and
Moscowia in the 17th century through the decline of the Ukrainian state in the late 18th century, we still have written evidences of Ukraine's geopolitical legacy at the political map of Europe. Along with Guillaume de Beauplan, there are many famous European cartographers who contributed to Ukrainian mapping heritage. Nicolas Sanson, Frederick de Witt and the Bleau family, Moses Pitt, Johann Homann and Matheus Zoyter, they all had engraved the name of Ukraine in hundreds of historical documents, stating the role, place and significance of our country in all-European history.
From the Carpathians to Russia the Rus’ journey
Not to overload the project with single-type content and to avoid a duplication of data, here we represent the selected
works of the rich European legacy of Ukraine’s maps from 16-17th centuries. The most important, in my humble opinion, and vivid specimens of both artistic and scientific value were chosen for this digital presentation you are welcome to enjoy. It is supposed to reflect the main message of my collection: to show the name Ukraine on the maps of the late Renaissance and early modern history, to illustrate the "journey" Rus’ had made from the Carpathians to the territory of modern Russia Federation.
The collection today and tomorrow
The whole collection nowadays includes about 200 maps and is being appended on an ongoing basis. I still haven’t got a chance to get the genuine in vivo publication of the Special and/or General map of Ukraine by
Guillaume de Beauplan, too few specimens have left, and they all rest on the shelves of libraries and respectful collections. One can only rely on bon chance. There is still a dozen theoretically attainable but still elusive items worth hunting for in order to consider the collection complete. I am working through this.
I do hope that a submitted map archive, my comments and the way of presentation will be interesting and fascinating to everyone: scientists, politicians, historians, students, schoolchildren and the ones who love and cherish the interest in history of Ukraine and its international relations.
vkraina.com is initiated by Kyivstar – the national telecom operator in Ukraine. Every year Kyivstar runs new social and educational programs in order to encourage Ukrainians to learn more about their country using modern telecom tools.
vkraina.com is an online multimedia presentation, based on Andrii Osadchyk’s, Kyivstar’s member of board, private collection of European maps of 16-18th centuries. Andrii Osadchuk granted an exclusive permission to Kyivstar to digitalize a part of his collection, which up to date has about 200 original antique maps that cover the territory of modern Ukraine.
16-18th centuries are considered to be a golden age in modern European cartography. Those were the times when geographical maps were not merely used with educational and military needs,
but also created a
cultural and political image of the depicted states and territories. The map itself was a masterpiece back then.
Each map carries a unique distinctive image of Ukrainian land as seen by the Europeans of that time with all of the names and boundaries caught in their diversity. It is the story of our land from the earliest Ptolemy’s thoughts of Sarmatia up to the skillful description by the French military engineer Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan.
The specimens have been collected for more than 5 years; most of them were brought back to Ukraine from Europe and US.
vkraina.com gives you an outstanding opportunity of an exciting time travel revealing the European perception of Ukrainian land during 16-18th centuries, focusing on its’ shaping, evolution and status. There are 44 chronologically ordered, maps commented by the collector himself, that give a glimpse on cartographic history of Ukrainian lands in 16th-18th centuries.
The Renaissance and Baroque music, specially created for this project by the Ukrainian composer Vadym Borysenko, will take you deeper into the époque represented by the cartographical artifacts.
Leave your comments and feedback here
P.S. The project in no way claims the status of academic research or Kyivstar position on any issue; it only represents a private view towards peculiar historical data.
Vkraina is available for download as a mobile application on Android, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iOS platforms.
Download the application here:
Android (tablet + phone)
iOS (iPad + iPhone)
Windows 8 (tablet + desktop)
The project Vkraina received many awards in Ukraine and in the world as well.
In particular, such awards as:
- Yerevan International Communications Biennale SILVER in the “Best of Contest” nomination, in the “C. DIGITAL & NEW MEDIA” category;
- Kyiv International Advertising Festival XIV SILVER in the “Contest Interactive” nomination;
- Entered in the short list of The World Summit Award Mobile in the “m-Learning and Education” category.
On the eve of New Year 2015 Kyivstar developed the interactive mobile app Vkraina Calendar 2015.
Vkraina Calendar offers to learn interesting facts about the history of Ukraine through the prism of modern fashion. Fashion images were created by Ukrainian designer Mila Negru and based on the collection of historical maps of Ukraine from the Vkraina project.
All 12 pictures of the Vkraina Calendar in high quality can be downloaded from here.
Here you can see how we were making Vkraina Calendar 2015: watch on youtube.
Vkraina Calendar 2015 was created by:
Creative idea – Kyivstar,
Project Manager – Daria Partas,
Photographer – Dmitry Peretrutov, Peretrutov Studo,
Fashion Designer – Mila Negru,
Makeup Artist – Liana Yarygina,
Hairdresser – Denis Yarotskiy,
Historian Reviewer – Sergiy Gromenko,
Historical maps collector – Andriy Osadchuk,
Vkraina Calendar 2015 mobile application – Olexiy Garbuzenko.
The Ukrainian designer Mila Negru was inspired by Vkraina project by Kyivstar and created prêt-à-porter collection with prints of Ukrainian historical maps which were used in the project. You can find this collection on the designer website: mila-negru.com.
On the model's shoulders: the image of the I century AD Europae Tabula VIII map, by Giacomo Gastaldi.
For a long time, Ukrainian lands have been a home to various peoples. In 1 century AD the Black Sea coast had been already inhabited by Sarmatians, brave horsemen warriors.
Dance steps performed on the Moschovia Nuova Tavola map, by Girolamo Ruscelli, 1562.
Ukrainian theater is known throughout the world for many of its prominent figures: Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Mykhaylo Starytsky, Les Kurbas. And it is not surprising, since the first school theater was founded here in the end of the 17th century.
Model wears a dress with a print of Poloniae Finitimarumque locorum descriptio Auctore map, by Wencelslao Godreccio and Abraham Ortelius, 1580.
In 1580, Ukrainian printer Ivan Fedorov published the New Testament and Psalms — "The Book of New Testament" — in Ostrog. A year after, a true masterpiece of craftsmanship, the Ostrog Bible, was also completed. Ukrainian scribes Herasym Smotrytsky, Tymofiy Mykhaylovych and others have been preparing the text for the publication along with Ivan Fedorov.
Model wears a dress with a print of Lithvania map, by Gerard Merkator, 1609.
Ukraine is an open and welcoming land to people of different views and beliefs. In 1609, famous Christian religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, the Jesuits settled in Lutsk.
Model wears a dress with a print of Magni Ducatus Lithuaniae Caeterarumque Regionum Illi Adjacentium Anno map, 1613.
Ukrainian Cossacks are widely known in the world for their bravery. The first mentions of so-called "free people" are found in 15th century chronics, and in the 17th century the Zaporizhia Cossack army has been considered one of the most powerful armies in Europe. For instance, in 1613, Hetman Petro Sahaydachny and his fleet held two military campaigns to the Turkish coast of the Black Sea.
On the model: the image of Typus Generalis Ukrainae sive Palatinatum Podoliae, Kioviensis et Braczlaviensis map, by Moses Pitt, 1681.
Ukraine's way to independence was hard. The peace treaty signed in Bakhchysarai in 1681, by the Turkish Empire, Crimean Khanate and Muscovy, was an important milestone in the development of Ukrainian statehood.
Model wears a turban with a print of Tabula nova totius regni Poloniae Amsterdam map, by Visscher Nicolas, 1690.
Ivan Mazepa, one of the most known Cossack leaders in history, influenced the cultural development of the country greatly, supporting education and spiritual life. During the time of his Hetman ruling, Ukrainian land became closer to Europe. In 1690, Ivan Mazepa restored the Assumption Cathedral of Kyiv-Pechery Lavra at his own expense.
Model wears a dress with a print of Ukrania quae et Terra Cosaccorum cum vicinis Walachiae, Moldoviae map, by Johann Baptiste Homann, 1720.
The russification of Ukraine has a long history. In 1720, Tsar Peter I issued an order which prohibited printing in Kyiv and Chernigiv: no other new Ukrainian church books but the metric were allowed to be printed.
The eyes of the model are tied with a ribbon imprinted with Nova et Accurata Tartariae Europae seu Minoris et in specie Crimeae map, by Matthaus Seutter, 1740.
In 1740, the representatives of the nobility, Cossack officers and senior Ukrainian clergy started to develop the code of rights and obligations of Left-Bank Ukraine residents. Three years after, the ideas were collected in one document under the name of Legislations for the Malorossia People Judiciary.
The model stands in front of the wall with the image of Amplissima Ucraniae Regio Palatinatus Kioviensem et Braclaviensem map, by Matthaus Seutter, 1742.
Children continue their parents work, and when in 1742, the author of the first European Constitution Pylyp Orlyk died, his son Grygory led the Ukrainian political emigration. Largely through the efforts of the emigration, Ukrainian people started to be recognized as a separate nation.
Model wears a kerchief with a print of Partie Du Cours du Dneper map, 1769.
There is no order of any power that can take away the culture from its people. Although in 1769, the printing house of Kyiv-Pechery Lavra was prohibited to print alphabets in Ukrainian, people kept their own written language and linguistic traditions.
Model dances in a dress with a print of Confluent et embouchure du Bog et du Dniéper map, 1785.
Ukrainian philosopher Grygory Skovoroda defended the individual rights of a human being and sympathized the enslaved peasants. In 1785, he completed his poetic book "The Garden of Divine Songs", in which the main aim of the lyrical hero is the liberation of his people. The poem "On Liberty" sees freedom as the greatest wealth of the person.
Start your quest through 16-18th century European geographical maps right now!