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Compare the cossack costume described in the text with the present-day uniform.
2 Answer the questions:
1 Have you ever seen a typical cossack «kuren» and where?
2 Why is the Cossack culture so unique and amazing?
3 Try to draw a cossack dress.
The Famous Cossacks
Ermak, a monument to whom we can see in Novocherkassk, is known as «a Conqueror of Siberia». He was born in the Don area but no one knows when and where. He participated in the Livon war of 1558-1583 and after it organized a group of soldiers to liberate the Russians captured by the Tatars. The tzar troops stopped this activity and Ermak was invited by the merchants – the Stroganovs – to defend their property against the Siberian Tatars.
On the 1-st of September 1582 Ermak with 850 Cossacks equipped with cannons, powder and food started a trip to Siberia in order to widen the lands belonging to the Stroganovs. His army gained several victories over the Tatars. Ten thousands of the Tatars led by khan Kuchum were defeated. But Ermak realized that he was not able to continue struggling as only 300 Cossacks stayed alive. He sent a letter and many presents to the czar, Ivan the Terrible, asking him to include Siberia into the Russian borders. The tsar was pleased and awarded the Cossacks. He proclaimed Ermak the Prince of Siberia and sent 500 soldiers to him.
In 1585 Ermak with only 50 Cossacks were moving along the Irtish. When the soldiers fell asleep khan Kuchum treacherously attacked them. Ermak fought heroically but he was seriously wounded. He tried to escape by swimming but his wounds as well as heavy armour – a present from the tzar – made him sink.
Ermak Timofeevitch is one of the most popular heroes in the Don history. Many legends, songs and pictures are devoted to him. There are several monuments to Ermak and his name is given to stanitsa Ermakovskaya. His deeds and his name are immortal.
Stepan Rasin is a legendary personality in Russian history. He was born in Cherkassk (now stanitsa Starocherkasskaya) approximately in 1630. His father Timofey Rasya came from Voronezh and became a lieutenant-colonel of the Cossack Army thanks to his military deeds. Nothing is known about his mother but that she was of eastern origin (from Turkey or Persia) and died very young.
In 1658 Stepan with a group of Cossacks who constituted the Embassy traveled across Russia to Moscow. He got a lot of vital experience about the life of poor people during this trip. By this time he had already learnt eight foreign languages. He was readily appointed a diplomat because he possessed an outstanding will-power, an ability to communicate and have an influence upon different people. Besides he was very imposingly looking: everything in him – his deliberate manners, reserved speech and gestures -– excited respect and trust. Stepan was a skilful warrior as well: during all his life full of battles he was wounded only once. As a military leader he was famous as an experienced and cunning tactician. There was nothing pretentious in his clothes and he could have been accused only of two «sins»: card gambling and smoking a pipe.
In spring 1667 Stepan Rasin was elected the ataman of the poorest Don Cossacks who decided to move to the Volga in order to enrich themselves. At first they attacked Tsaritsin and after several battles approached the Caspian Sea. The army of Rasin was met with enthusiasm everywhere: the poor felt themselves ready to get free from their landlords. In 1668 Rasin and his people destroyed a powerful Persian fleet and returned to Astrakhan where they decided to stay after the czar had forgiven Stepan.
In 1670 Rasin with his people established a democratic order in a number of towns: Astrakhan, Tsaritsin, Saratov, etc. The people of these towns were liberated from the yoke and all the matters were solved by voting. But near Simbirsk Rasin was seriously wounded and his army retreated to the Don. He reached Kagalnik safely and after some time started a siege of Cherkassk. The ataman of Cherkassk at that time was his god-father Kornila Yakovlev. As many other well-to-do Cossacks he was against Rasin‘s actions and in 1671 his people defeated Rasin and took him and his brother Frol into custody. They were taken to Moscow where in June 1671 they were executed in the Red Square.
Many centuries passed since then and the names of the people who fought against Stepan Rasin erased from our memory but every Russian remembers this talented and brave person whose deeds will be kept for ever in people‘s songs and legends.
1 a lieutenant-colonel – войсковой старшина
2 card gambling– игра в карты
3 to take into custody – взять под стражу
Ataman Matvey Platov is considered to be the most popular cossack general and an outstanding military leader awarded almost with all the Russian and many foreign awards. He was born in 1751 in the town of Cherkassk. When he was 13 he joined the army and for his brave struggle against the Turks he was proclaimed an officer.
Serving in the Crimea he got acquainted with A.V. Suvorov who highly appreciated his military talent and heroic deeds during the battles of Ochakov and Ismail.
Platov’s activity was also appreciated and respected by Katherine II and Potemkin who awarded him more than once. However during the reign of Pavel I he was sent into the exile in Kastroma and then was taken into prison for a number of months in Petropavlovsky fortress being accused in organizing a rebellion against the czar. But when the conviction was reversed Platov got an award and was appointed the Don Army Ataman.
In 1806-1807 he heroically participated in severe battles against the Napoleon Army and was even awarded with the order by Napoleon himself but refused to accept the award from the enemy of his Motherland. His military career reached its culmination during the years of the Patriotic War in 1812-1814. The Cossacks under his command became the greatest threat for the enemy and glorified themselves in the battles of Borodino and Krasnyi. In 1814 ataman Platov with the Russian Army entered the defeated Paris. After some time he was awarded with the law diploma of Oxford University.
Ataman Matvey Platov died in 1818. His tomb is in Novocherkassk Cathedral and there is also a magnificent monument to him in this city. His deeds were described by such great Russian writers as N.S. Leskov, L.N. Tolstoy, A.I. Gertsen, M.A. Sholokhov and others and will always inspire gratitude among his compatriots.
Emelyan Pugatchov was born in stanitsa Zimoveyskaya-on-Don about 1742. As many other Cossacks he honestly defended Russia in several wars but then being tired of constant struggle and hardships he fled from the army. For several years he lived among the peasants and understood that their life had not been better. So he made an attempt to persuade the Cossacks to move to the Kuban in search for «free lands». But he was arrested and sentenced to a penitentiary term in Siberia. In 1773 he managed to escape from the prison again and returned to the Cossacks. It was decided among them that Pugatchov would proclaim himself the emperor Peter III and organize a new rebellion of Cossacks and peasants against the tzar. His ultimate aims were as following: a just state can be ruled by a czar who was a poor common man himself.
Though having no special education he turned out to be an outstanding military leader and organizer of the peasant movement. He had an inborn wit and wisdom, he was brave and resolute. A lot of writers and artists were attracted by this outstanding character, however, the best psychological analysis of Pugatchov’s activity one can find in The Captain’s Daughter by A.S.Pushkin. In 1774 he was betrayed by several conspiracy-makers and arrested. After a trial in Simbirsk and Moscow he with four of his friends wereexecuted and his family was sent into the exile.
THE MILLERS – THE DON COSSACKS
When you hear the name of the town Millerovo or Millerovsky Region you can be surprised because it sounds quite unusual among the other cossack villages. As a matter of fact, the Millers contributed much into the history of our native land.
The name of their family was mentioned for the first time in the chronicles about the coup d’etat which led Elizaveta Petrovna to the Russian throne. In 1741 a German physician in ordinary Abraham Miller together with Shetardy and Lestok participated in this historic event.
But after mounting the throne Elizaveta took all the measures in order to reduce the influence of the foreigners in Russian policy and sent almost all her former supporters to the suburbs of the country. So Abraham Miller was appointed a doctor in one of the Don armies. He settled in Cherkassk, married a relative of the ataman Efremov, changed his religion into Orthodoxy and thus gave a birth to the new Cossack kin. His son Ivan became a Colonel of the Don Army, and the grandson, Feodor, being in the detachment of ataman Platov participated in the attack of Ismail. Many other descendants of this kin served in the Don Cossack Army defending their Motherland - Russia.
The Millers’ kin gave also a number of outstanding engineers, scientists and lawyers. Mikhail Miller, for example, was an archeologist and in 1926-1932 he organized several expeditions on the shores of the Azov Sea. Since 1934 he was a professor of the Rostov State University and the Teachers’ Training Institute. Many of his investigations dealt with the history of the Don land. After the World War II he became one of the founders of the Munich Institute which studied the USSR and since then his work was conducted in Germany. Professor Miller was elected the honoured member of several other foreign Academies and Societies. In 1963 M.A. Miller died. He stayed in the history as a Don Cossack of German origin, a great patriot and an outstanding historian.
1 coup d’etat – государственный переворот
2 a physician in ordinary – (истор.) лейб-медик
3 kin– род
4 to mount the throne – взойти на престол
5 descendant – потомок
The Fortress Named after St. Dmitry Rostovsky
The beginning of the history of our city is connected with the construction of Temernik Custom and the Fortress named after St. Dmitry Rostovsky. During the period of the Azov wars of 1695-1696 Peter I being on the territory of modern Rostov searched for a place for a future fortress. He liked the abrupt bank of the river Don near Bogaty Spring. However this plan had not been realized as after the defeat in 1711 Russia had to destroy some important fortresses in the South and to give Azov back to the Turks.
The presence of the Turks, the Tatars and other hostile peoples on the left bank of the Don made the Russian government found the St.Ann’s fortress. It was built in 1731 on the island situated between the Don and Aksay. But in due course the Russian government decided to find a more strategically convenient point on the Don territories as the location of the St.Ann’s fortress had been considered disadvantageous.
In summer 1749 the leader of the Don Army ataman Daniil Efremov received the decree of the Russian empress Elizaveta Petrovna, the daughter of Peter I, to found a custom-house in Cherkassk – the main town of the Don Cossack Army. But free-loving Cossacks were against this order as it limited their own trade with Russian and foreign merchants. They wrote a letter to the empress reminding about special privileges for the Cossacks: duty- and tax-free trading. And as the Don Army played an important role in the defense of the Southern borders of the country she changed her mind. On 15-th of December, 1749 it was decreed to build the custom up the river Don, near Bogaty Kolodetz. Bogaty Kolodetz was the name of a rich spring of fresh water around which a small settlement appeared. However, the construction started only in March 1750 and quite at the other place: on the left bank of the Temernik. So this custom was called Temernitskaya. Later different buildings appeared around it and in 1761 the Russian government decided to build a fortress at its place which was called then in honour of St.Dmitry Rostovsky. By this time in 1761 according to the decree of Katherine II the St.Ann’s fortress had been dismantled.
On September 23, 1761 the ceremonial laying of the foundation-stone of the St.Dmitry Rostovsky‘s fortress took place. The fortress was called so in honour of St.Dmitry, the metropolitan and a wonder-worker from Rostov the Great. The new fortress was situated on the steep right bank of the Don near the settlement of Bogaty Kolodetz («Rich Spring»), located near the mouth of the Temernik river. The fortress was built under the supervision of the engineer-colonel Alexander Rigelman, its constructor and a commandant. Major-general Somov was appointed the first commandant of the St.Dmitry’s fortress. All the soldiers, offices and guns of the St.Ann’s fortress were transferred to the new one.
The St.Dmitry’s fortress was very important at that time. In the first place, it defended the Russian border from the nomadic tribes, and in the second place, it was a trade point connected with the South of Russia. And at the same time with the help of its soldiers the Russian government could control the Don Cossacks. The territory occupied by the fortress was limited by present day Krepostnoy by-street in the East, Chekhov street – in the West, M. Gorky street – in the North and Stanislavsky street – in the South. It was built in the form of a sixteen-pointed star opened from the side of the Don so the enemies were always under the fire. A deep moat ran around the fortress which had six gates. It occupied the highest part of the right bank of the river and that was very important from the strategic point of view. The area of the fortress was about 1 sq. km. In the middle of the fortress there was a church of the Robe of Our Lady (the church has been recently built in this place). There were also seven longitudinal and seven transverse streets inside of the fortress. The central street got the name Bogotyanovskaya (now Kirovsky avenue).
By 1835 the fortress had lost its military importance because it was already located deep inside the Russian lands. The troops were sent to Anapa and the fortress was dismantled. Now only the Krepostnoy Lane reminds us by its name about the existence of the fortress, which had given the name to our city.