THE AGREEMENT OF PEREIASLAV
Paul Robert Magocsi
Excerpts from the book ”History of Ukraine”, Toronto / 1996
The following excerpts are from the Articles of Petition brought to Moscow by Hetman Khmel'nyts'kyi's delegates. Because they were dated 14 March 1654, the Pereiaslav agreement is often referred to as the 'March Articles' (Bereznevi staffi).
Before Your Tsarist Majesty we, Bohdan Khmelnyts'kyi, the Hetman of the Zaporozhian Army, and the entire Zaporozhian Army as well as the entire Ruthe- nian Christian world, how our forehead to the face of the earth.
In the beginning, grant that Your Tsarist Majesty will confirm our rights and our military freedoms as they have existed for ages in the Zaporozhian Army, which was governed by its own laws and which possessed its own prerogatives in matters of property and of justice; grant that neither a military commander nor a boyar nor court official shall interfere with the courts of the Army and that its members be judged by their own elders. ...
That the Zaporozhian Army to the number of sixty thousand men always be at full strength.
That the gentry that has turned to Russia and taken an oath, in accordance with the immaculate commandment of Christ, to You, Our Great Sovereign, Your Tsarist Majesty, continue to retain the class privileges of their estate. That from among their own elders they continue to select their own judicial officials and to hold possession to their own property and freedoms, as it had been under the Polish kings.
That in the cities there be selected from among our own worthy people officials who are to govern or supervise Your Tsarist Majesty's subjects and who are to transmit to Your Tsarist Majesty's treasury the incomes justly belonging to it.
That to the office of hetman there be attached the district of Chyhyryn with all of its appurtenances in order that it might continue to provide income to that entire office.
That the Zaporozhian Army on its own select from within itself a hetman and make him known to His Tsarist Majesty since this is an ancient custom of the Zaporozhian Army.
That no one take away Cossack properties,
That to the general secretary of the Zaporozhian Army there be allocated, because of the kindness of His Tsarist Majesty, one thousand gold pieces for the employees of his office and a mill to provide for quartermaster needs.
That to each colonel there be assigned a mill because expenditures are great.
Additionally, for justices of the Zaporozhian Army three hundred gold pieces to each, as well as a mill, and for each court recorder, one hundred gold pieces.
That the chiefs of staff of the Zaporozhian Army and the regimental chiefs of staff that are on permanent military duty be granted a mill.
For the manufacture of ordnance equipment and of artillery and for all persons employed with ordnance, we request attention to both the problems of winter and of quarters.
That the rights granted through the centuries by princes and kings to both clerical and lay persons not be violated in any way.
That envoys from foreign lands coming to the Zaporozhian Army with good intentions be freely received by the Lord Herman and the Zaporozhian Army.
Inasmuch as in other countries tribute is paid in one sum, we also wish to give in the accepted manner to those persons appointed by Your Tsarist Majesty.
Our envoys are to seek an agreement to the effect that no visiting commander shall violate our rights. And wherever among local people there are qualified persons, these shall see that justice is done with respect to violations of local laws and traditions.
That His Tsarist Majesty write down our privileges in charters stamped by seals, one for Cossack freedoms and a second for the freedoms of the gentry, so that these freedoms might be forever. And when we shall receive this, we ourselves are to maintain order among ourselves. He who is a Cossack shall have Cossack freedoms, and he who is a land-working peasant shall give to His Tsarist Majesty the customary obligation, as before.
With respect to the Metropolitan there are to be discussions, and concerning this matter we have given oral instructions to our envoys.
That His Tsarist Majesty send troops quickly and directly to Smolensk without delay, so that the [Polish] enemy might not improve his position and consolidate with others.
That for any eventuality a contingent of persons, around 3,000 or preferably more, should be stationed here along the border with the Poles.
That there be paid 100 efimki to each colonel, 200 gold pieces to each regimental chief of staff, 400 gold pieces to each chief of staff on the highest staff level, 100 gold pieces to each centurion, and 30 gold pieces to each Cossack.
If the [Crimean Tatar] Horde should become aggressive, then it will be necessary to move against them from Astrakhan' and Kazan'.
That His Tsarist Majesty will henceforth order the supplying of rations and powder for artillery for the fortress of Kodak, which was constructed at the frontier with Crimea and in which the Lord Hetman at all times posts 400 men and provides them with all kinds of provisions.
source: John Basarab, Pereiaslav 1654: A HistoriographicalStudy (Edmonton 1982), pp. 230-236.
Bohdan Khmelnitski at Pereyaslav, as seen by modern Russian artist