1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mazepa-Koledinsky, Ivan Stepanovich

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 17
Mazepa-Koledinsky, Ivan Stepanovich, by Robert Nisbet Bain

MAZEPA-KOLEDINSKY, IVAN STEPANOVICH (1644?–1709), hetman of the Cossacks, belonging to a noble Orthodox family, was born possibly at Mazeptsina, either in 1629 or 1644, the latter being the more probable date. He was educated at the court of the Polish king, John Casimir, and completed his studies abroad. An intrigue with a Polish married lady forced him to fly into the Ukraine. There is a trustworthy tradition that the infuriated husband tied the naked youth to the back of a wild horse and sent him forth into the steppe. He was rescued and cared for by the Dnieperian Cossacks, and speedily became one of their ablest leaders. In 1687, during a visit to Moscow, he won the favour of the then all-powerful Vasily Golitsuin, from whom he virtually purchased the hetmanship of the Cossacks (July 25). He took a very active part in the Azov campaigns of Peter the Great and won the entire confidence of the young tsar by his zeal and energy. He was also very serviceable to Peter at the beginning of the Great Northern War, especially in 1705 and 1706, when he took part in the Volhynian campaign and helped to construct the fortress of Pechersk. The power and influence of Mazepa were fully recognized by Peter the Great. No other Cossack hetman had ever been treated with such deference at Moscow. He ranked with the highest dignitaries in the state; he sat at the tsar’s own table. He had been made one of the first cavaliers of the newly established order of St Andrew, and Augustus of Poland had bestowed upon him, at Peter’s earnest solicitation, the universally coveted order of the White Eagle. Mazepa had no temptations to be anything but loyal, and loyal he would doubtless have remained had not Charles XII. crossed the Russian frontier. Then it was that Mazepa, who had had doubts of the issue of the struggle all along, made up his mind that Charles, not Peter, was going to win, and that it was high time he looked after his own interests. Besides, he had his personal grievances against the tsar. He did not like the new ways because they interfered with his old ones. He was very jealous of the favourite (Menshikov), whom he suspected of a design to supplant him. But he proceeded very cautiously. Indeed, he would have preferred to remain neutral, but he was not strong enough to stand alone. The crisis came when Peter ordered him to co-operate actively with the Russian forces in the Ukraine. At this very time he was in communication with Charles’s first minister, Count Piper, and had agreed to harbour the Swedes in the Ukraine and close it against the Russians (Oct. 1708). The last doubt disappeared when Menshikov was sent to supervise Mazepa. At the approach of his rival the old hetman hastened to the Swedish outposts at Horki, in Severia. Mazepa’s treason took Peter completely by surprise. He instantly commanded Menshikov to get a new hetman elected and raze Baturin, Mazepa’s chief stronghold in the Ukraine, to the ground. When Charles, a week later, passed Baturin by, all that remained of the Cossack capital was a heap of smouldering mills and ruined houses. The total destruction of Baturin, almost in sight of the Swedes, overawed the bulk of the Cossacks into obedience, and Mazepa’s ancient prestige was ruined in a day when the metropolitan of Kiev solemnly excommunicated him from the high altar, and his effigy, after being dragged with contumely through the mud at Kiev, was publicly burnt by the common hangman. Henceforth Mazepa, perforce, attached himself to Charles. What part he took at the battle of Poltava is not quite clear. After the catastrophe he accompanied Charles to Turkey with some 1500 horsemen (the miserable remnant of his 80,000 warriors). The sultan refused to surrender him to the tsar, though Peter offered 300,000 ducats for his head. He died at Bender on the 22nd of August 1709.

See N. I. Kostomarov, Mazepa and the Mazepanites (Russ.) (St Petersburg), 1885; R. Nisbet Bain, The First Romanovs (London, 1905); S. M. Solovev, History of Russia (Russ.), vol. xv. (St Petersburg, 1895).  (R. N. B.)