Red Ruthenia

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Red Ruthenia
Ruś Czerwona (Polish)
Червона Русь (Ukrainian)
Historic region
Market Square, Lviv
Panorama of Przemyśl
Pidhirtsi Castle
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ternopil
Location of Red Ruthenia
Location of Red Ruthenia
Country Poland
Largest cityLviv

Red Ruthenia, or Red Rus' (Ukrainian: Червона Русь, romanizedChervona Rus'; Polish: Ruś Czerwona; Latin: Ruthenia Rubra; Russia Rubra; Russian: Червoнная Русь, romanizedChervonnaya Rus' or Russian: Красная Русь, romanizedKrasnaya Rus'; Romanian: Rutenia Roșie), is a term used since the Middle Ages for the south-western principalities of the Kievan Rus', namely the Principality of Peremyshl and the Principality of Belz. Nowadays the region comprises parts of western Ukraine and adjoining parts of south-eastern Poland. It has also sometimes included parts of Lesser Poland, Podolia, Right-bank Ukraine and Volhynia. Centred on Przemyśl and Belz, it has included major cities such as: Chełm, Zamość, Rzeszów, Krosno and Sanok (now all in Poland), as well as Lviv and Ternopil (now in Ukraine).[1]

Red Ruthenia (Ruś Czerwona) and other historical lands of Poland against the background of modern administrative borders (names in Polish)

First mentioned by that name in a Polish chronicle of 1321, Red Ruthenia was the portion of Ruthenia incorporated into Poland by Casimir the Great during the 14th century.[citation needed] The disintegration of Rus', Red Ruthenia was contested by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (the Gediminids), the Kingdom of Poland (the Piasts), the Kingdom of Hungary and the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia. After the Galicia–Volhynia Wars, for about 400 years most of Red Ruthenia became part of Poland as the Ruthenian Voivodeship.

Pogórzanie folk costumes

A minority of ethnic Poles have lived since the beginning of the second Millennium in northern parts of Red Ruthenia. The exonym "Ruthenians" usually refers to members of the Rusyn and/or Ukrainian ethnicity.[2]



Lemkos in folk costumes from Mokre, near Sanok

The first known inhabitants of northern Red Ruthenia were Lendians[3] and White Croats,[4] while subgroups of Rusyns, such as Boykos and Lemkos, lived in the south.

Later Walddeutsche ("Forest Germans"), Jews, Armenians and Poles also made up part of the population.[5] According to Marcin Bielski, although Bolesław I Chrobry settled Germans in the region to defend the borders against Hungary and Kievan Rus' the settlers became farmers. Maciej Stryjkowski described German peasants near Rzeszów, Przemyśl, Sanok, and Jarosław as good farmers. Casimir the Great settled German citizens on the borders of Lesser Poland and Red Ruthenia to join the acquired territory with the rest of his kingdom. In determining the population of late medieval Poland, colonisation and Polish migration to Red Ruthenia, Spiš and Podlachia[6] (whom the Ukrainians called Mazury—poor peasant migrants, chiefly from Mazowsze[7]) should be considered.

During the second half of the 14th century, the Vlachs arrived from the southeastern Carpathians and quickly settled across southern Red Ruthenia. Although during the 15th century the Ruthenians gained a foothold, it was not until the 16th century that the Wallachian population in the Bieszczady Mountains and the Lower Beskids was Ruthenized.[8] From the 14th to the 16th centuries Red Ruthenia underwent rapid urbanization, resulting in over 200 new towns built on the German model (virtually unknown before 1340, when Red Ruthenia was the independent Kingdom of Halych).[9]

The ducal seal of Vladislaus II of Opole (Władysław Opolczyk): "Ladislaus Dei Gracia Dux Opoliensis Wieloniensis et Terre Russie Domin et Heres" (c. 1387)

Political history[edit]

1199 to 1772[edit]

The 1507 Lesser Poland and Red Ruthenia Map (Polonia Minor; Russia) by Martin Waldseemüller[10]

During the early Middle Ages, the region was part of Kievan Rus' and, from 1199, the independent Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia.

It came under Polish control in 1340, when Casimir the Great conquered it.[11][12] During his reign from 1333 to 1370, Casimir the Great founded several cities, urbanizing the rural province.[13]

The Polish name Ruś Czerwona (translated as "Red Rus") came into use for the territory extending to the Dniester, centring on Przemyśl. Since the reign of Władysław Jagiełło (d. 1434) the Przemyśl Voivodeship was called the Ruthenian Voivodeship (województwo ruskie), centring on Lwów. The voivodeship consisted of five regions: Lwów, Sanok, Halicz (Halych), Przemyśl, and Chełm. The town of Halych gave its name to Galicia.[citation needed] During the 1340s, the influence of the Rurik dynasty ended; most of the area passed to Casimir the Great, with Kiev and the state of Volhynia falling under the control of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Polish region was divided into a number of voivodeships, and an era of German eastward migration and Polish settlement among the Ruthenians began. Armenians and Jews also migrated to the region. A number of castles were built at this time, and the cities of Stanisławów (Stanyslaviv in Ukrainian, now Ivano-Frankivsk) and Krystynopol (now Chervonohrad) were founded.

In October 1372, Władysław Opolczyk was deposed as count palatine. Although he retained most of his castles and goods in Hungary, his political influence waned. As compensation, Opolczyk was made governor of Hungarian Galicia. In this new position, he contributed to the economic development of the territories entrusted to him. Although Opolczyk primarily resided in Lwów, at the end of his rule he spent more time in Halicz. The only serious conflict during his time as governor involved his approach to the Eastern Orthodox Church, which angered the local Catholic boyars. Under Polish rule 325 towns were founded from the 14th century to the second half of the 17th century, most during the 15th and 16th centuries (96 and 153, respectively).[14]

Ruthenia was subject to repeated Tatar and Ottoman Empire incursions during the 16th and 17th centuries and was impacted by the Khmelnytsky Uprising (1648–1654), the 1654–1667 Russo-Polish War and Swedish invasions during the Deluge (1655–1660); the Swedes returned during the Great Northern War of the early 18th century. Red Ruthenia consisted of three voivodeships: Ruthenia, whose capital was Lviv and provinces were Lviv, Halych, Sanok, Przemyśl and Chełm; Bełz, separating the provinces of Lviv and Przemyśl from the rest of the Ruthenian voivodeship; and Podolia, with its capital at Kamieniec Podolski.

Ruthenian Voivodeship
  • Chełm Land (Ziemia Chełmska), Chełm
  • Halych Land (Ziemia Halicka), Halicz
    • Powiat of Halicz, (Powiat Halicki), Halicz
    • Kolomyja County, (Powiat Kołomyjski), Kołomyja
    • Trembowla County, (Powiat Trembowelski), Trembowla
  • Lwów Land (Ziemia Lwowska), Lwów
    • Powiat of Lwów, (Powiat Lwowski), Lwów
    • Powiat of Żydaczów, (Powiat Żydaczowski), Żydaczów
  • Przemyśl Land (Ziemia Przemyska), Przemyśl; Its area was 12,000 km2. and in the 17th century it was divided five smaller regions (county, powiaty).
    • Przemyśl County (Powiat Przemyski), Przemyśl
    • Powiat of Sambor, (Powiat Samborski), Sambor
    • Powiat of Drohobycz, (Powiat Drohobycki), Drohobycz
    • Powiat of Stryj, (Powiat Stryjski), Stryj
  • Sanok Land (Ziemia Sanocka), Sanok
    • Sanok County (Powiat Sanocki), Sanok: Intensive settlement occurred from the 13th to 15th centuries in an area flanked by the Wisłok, San and Wisłoka Rivers. The Vlachs primarily engaged in agriculture; moving west, they established a number of villages during the 15th century. In Sanok Land were six Jewish communities, with synagogues and kahal organizations. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Jewish Communities were also autonomous in criminal law.[citation needed]
Village of Markowa, about 150-200 km southeast of Kraków. Its 18th- and 19th-century Upper Lusatian houses evoked the mountains of Saxony.[15]
Bieszczady Mountains
Bełz Voivodeship

1772 to 1918[edit]

Red Ruthenia (except for Podolia) was conquered by the Austrian Empire in 1772 during the First Partition of Poland, remaining part of the empire until 1918.[16] Between World Wars I and II, it belonged to the Second Polish Republic. The region is currently split, with its western portion in southeastern Poland (around Rzeszów, Przemyśl, Zamość and Chełm) and its eastern portion (around Lviv) in western Ukraine.

Largest cities[edit]

City Population (2022) Country Administrative
1 Lviv 717,273 Ukraine Lviv Oblast
2 Ivano-Frankivsk 238,196 Ukraine Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast
3 Ternopil 225,004 Ukraine Ternopil Oblast
4 Rzeszów 198,609 Poland Subcarpathian Voivodeship
5 Drohobych 73,682 Ukraine Lviv Oblast
6 Kalush 65,088 Ukraine Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast
7 Chervonohrad 64,297 Ukraine Lviv Oblast
8 Kolomyia 60,821 Ukraine Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast
9 Stryi 59,425 Ukraine Lviv Oblast
10 Zamość 58,942 Poland Lublin Voivodeship
11 Chełm 57,933 Poland Lublin Voivodeship
12 Przemyśl 57,568 Poland Subcarpathian Voivodeship
13 Krosno 44,322 Poland Subcarpathian Voivodeship
14 Jarosław 35,945 Poland Subcarpathian Voivodeship
15 Sanok 34,687 Poland Subcarpathian Voivodeship
16 Sambir 34,152 Ukraine Lviv Oblast
17 Boryslav 32,473 Ukraine Lviv Oblast
18 Novoiavorivsk 31,366 Ukraine Lviv Oblast
19 Truskavets 28,287 Ukraine Lviv Oblast
20 Chortkiv 28,279 Ukraine Ternopil Oblast

See also[edit]


  • "Monumenta Poloniae Historica"
  • Akta grodzkie i ziemskie z archiwum ziemskiego. Lauda sejmikowe. Tom XXIII, XXIV, XXV.
  • Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego (Digital edition)
  • Lustracja województwa ruskiego, podolskiego i bełskiego, 1564-1565 Warszawa, (I) edition 2001, pages 289. ISBN 83-7181-193-4
  • Lustracje dóbr królewskich XVI-XVIII wieku. Lustracja województwa ruskiego 1661—1665. Część III ziemie halicka i chełmska. Polska Akademia Nauk - Instytut Historii. 1976
  • Lustracje województw ruskiego, podolskiego i bełskiego 1564 - 1565, wyd. K. Chłapowski, H. Żytkowicz, cz. 1, Warszawa - Łódź 1992
  • Lustracja województwa ruskiego 1661-1665, cz. 1: Ziemia przemyska i sanocka, wyd. K. Arłamowski i W. Kaput, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków. 1970
  • Aleksander Jabłonowski. Polska wieku XVI, t. VII, Ruś Czerwona, Warszawa 1901 i 1903.


  1. ^ Janeczek, Andrzej (2022). "Atlas historyczny Rzeczypospolitej. Ruś Czerwona w drugiej połowie XVI wieku – koncepcja i program projektu". Studia Geohistorica (in Polish) (10): 224–238. ISSN 2300-2875.
  2. ^ "The dominant population of Galicia, or Red Rus', called itself “Rusyn” ... and was considered by Russophile authors to be Russian, or, more specifically, Little Russian. That view began to gain ground after the publication in the Russian Empire of a Russian translation of Pavol Šafárik's Slovanský národopis in 1843." (Serhii Plokhy, Lost Kingdom: The Quest for Empire and the Making of the Russian Nation, New York, Hachette, p. 168.
  3. ^ Rozwałka, Andrzej (2008). "Pobuże region as an object of research and protection of the archaeological heritage from the period of Early Middle Ages". In Zięba, Maciej St. (ed.). Our Bug. Creating conditions for development of the border areas of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus through enhancement and preservation of natural and cultural heritage (PDF). Catholic University of Lublin. p. 109. ISBN 978-83-7363-508-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 July 2011.
  4. ^ Magocsi, Paul Robert (1983), Galicia: A Historical Survey and Bibliographic Guide, University of Toronto Press, pp. 56–58, ISBN 9780802024824
  5. ^ "were mainly Germans, Poles, Armenians and Jews, but also Karaims, Crimean Tatars, Greeks or Wallachians [in:] "Kwartalnik historii kultury materialnej: t. 47, PAN. 1999. p. 146
  6. ^ Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 1992
  7. ^ M. H. Marunchak. The Ukrainian Canadians, 1982
  8. ^ Czajkowski, 1992; Parczewski, 1992; Reinfuss, 1948, 1987, 1990
  9. ^ Kwartalnik historii kultury materialnej: t. 47, PAN. 1999. p. 146
  10. ^ „Karte von Germania, Kleinpolen, Hungary, Walachai u. Siebenbuergen nebst Theilen der angraenzenden Laender“ von des „Claudii Ptolemaei geographicae enarrationis libri octo“, 1525, Strassburg
  11. ^ H. H. Fisher, "America and the New Poland (1928)", Read Books, 2007, p. 15
  12. ^ N. Davies, God's playground: a history of Poland in two volumes, Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 71, 135 [1]
  14. ^ A. Janeczek, Town and country in the Polish Commonwealth, 1350-1650, in: S. R. Epstein, Town and Country in Europe, 1300-1800, Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 164
  15. ^ Franciszek Kotula. Pochodzenie domów przysłupowych w Rzeszowskiem. "Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej" Jahr. V., Nr. 3/4, 1957, S. 557
  16. ^ K. Kocsis, E. K. Hodosi, Ethnic Geography of the Hungarian Minorities in the Carpathian Basin, Simon Publications, 1988, p. 84