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Koliyivshchyna rebellion
Camp of haidamakas.PNG
Camp of Haidamakas
Date May 1768–June 1769
Location Right-bank Ukraine
Result Polish-Russian victory
Herb Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodow.svg Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Russia Russian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Mikhail Krechetnikov
Jan Klemens Branicki
Maksym Zalizniak
Ivan Gonta
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Koliyivshchyna 1768-1769 (Ukrainian: Коліївщина, from Ukr. "impaling") was a Ukrainian Cossack and peasant rebellion against Poland, which was responsible for the murder of noblemen (szlachta) and other Polish population, Jews, Uniates, and Catholic priests across the part of the country west of the Dnieper river. While this rebellion may have begun with the aim of stopping social, national, and religious oppression of Ukrainians,[citation needed] it rapidly became a full-fledged campaign of ethnic cleansing aimed against Poles, Jews, and non-Orthodox Ukrainians. It was simultaneous to the Confederation of Bar and a de facto civil war in Poland. Some historians[who?] have stated that Russia may have had a role in fomenting the rebellion and the fact that Ukrainian Catholics were among its victims adds credence to this interpretation. The rebellion was fueled by the circulation of letter ostensibly written by the Empress Catherine of Russia, in which she promised military help if Ukrainians rise against the Poles.[citation needed]

The peasant rebellion quickly gained momentum and spread over the territory from the right bank of the Dnieper River to the river Syan. At Uman it led to a massacre of legendary proportions. Poles, Jews and Uniates were herded into their churches and synagogues and killed in cold blood. In three weeks of unbridled violence the rebels slaughtered 20,000 people, according to numerous Polish sources. The leaders of the uprising were Cossacks Maksym Zalizniak and Ivan Gonta. The latter was a Registered Cossack who changed sides and joined Zalizniak at Uman while being sent by Polish Count Franciszek Salezy Potocki to protect it. Gonta was in fact а sotnyk (i.e. a commander of a unit of 100 sabers) of the Uman Regiment.

The rebellion was suppressed by the joint forces of Polish and Russian armies, with numerous hangings, decapitations, quarterings and impalings.[1]


According to numerous Polish sources, the total number of casualties of the Koliyivshchyna 1768 on the right-bank Ukraine is estimated at 200,000 murdered people, mainly Poles and Jews.[1]

Koliyivshchyna in popular culture

Taras Shevchenko's epic poem Haidamaky (The Haidamakas) chronicles the events of the Koliyivshchnyna. The event also inspired recent artwork during the latest Ukrainian unrest.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Norman Davis (1982). God's playground. A history of Poland, vol 1. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-05350-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Davies" defined multiple times with different content