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The History of Vinnitsa
This picturesque corner of Ukraine has always been called the earthy paradise. The biggest river that runs peacefully though Vinnitsa was praised by our ancestors like a God.
So we are living on the earth that was generously gifted by The Most High with the most fertile ground in the whole Europe, with limpid rivers, thick forests and velvet meadows, spreading fields and stern hills. That is our motherland that concentrates within itself all the enticements and lavishness of Ukraine.
Vinnitsa is one of the most ancient cities of Ukraine. It has been situated on the marvelous banks of The South Bug for more than 600 years.
The history of Vinnitsa is a part of the history of western part of Ukraine. It is undividedly connected with the historical development of the Ukrainian nation, with its economy, culture, with fight against foreign invaders. The basin of The South Bug was settled by Slovaks, who successfully repulsed all attacks of numerous peoples. But in the middle of the XII century hordes of Mongol- Tatar invaders, taking advantage of the feudal division, invaded nearly all-eastern Slovenian lands, including Pobuzze. At the beginning of the second half of the XIV century Podolye passed to the Lithuanian State. Vinnitsa was founded precisely in this period. Grand Lithuanian duke Olgerd strived to join Lithuania and the whole Russ together and did everything that was in his power persistently to achieve his aim. In 1362 Kievschina and Pereaslavschyna appeared under control of Olgerd. After the invasion of Kiev, the troops of Olgerd moved to the South and on the river “Blue Water” they clashed with the troops of three Tatar dukes – Kytlubag, Khodzibey and Dmytryy. Here a great battle took place between Lithuanian and Turkish troops in 1362. Tatars were defeated. This event determined the further destiny of Podolye, starting from this moment it went under the control of Lithuanian State.
One of the decisive agreements of the successful protection of the land from Mongol- Turkish invaders was the building of fortifications around cities.
For the first time Vinnitsa was mentioned in the Lithuanian chronicles in 1363. Historians explain the origin of the name of the city differently. The most evident theory is the one, saying that the word “Vinnitsa” came from ancient Russian word “vino” (means “wine”), which meant “gain”. So that, Polish lands were really the gain of Lithuanian dukes (brothers Koriatovichy got them under their power as legacy from their uncle, the grand duke of Lithuania) then, most evidently, the name “Vinnitsa” originates from “vino”.
Social and economic development of Eastern Podolye in XVI-XVI is characterized by slow but consistent process of forming “stanovs” taking into consideration their Polish model. The development of Vinnitsa was connected undividedly with the strengthening of feudalism.
After the signing of “Lyublinska Union” (1569), Vinnitsa joined Province of Bratslav. At the end of the century Vinnitsa turned into a real city. It became a trade, economic and handy-craft center of Bratslav and played an important role in the life of the country. It can be admitted with all responsibility as in 1580, 1593 and 1634 Vinnitsa got the privilege for the right on unaccustomed trade along all the Polish-Lithuanian State.
The 30th –40th of the XVII century were the years of considerable economic and cultural growth in the history of Vinnitsa. Thanks to the activity of Vinnitsa Fraternal School and Vinnitsa Fraternal Collegium, a great number of educated people from local lower middle class appeared in the city.
In 1640 Vinnitsa got the right to have its own stamp. Two sabres were pictured in its emblem. These sabres symbolized that Vinnitsa was situated on the border and all inhabitants were entrusted with military obligations. They also meant that rulers decided the rights of inhabitants as during the XVI century Vinnitsa headmen prohibited the numerous departures of people of low class off the city, as it weakened forces of city protectors when Tatars attacked.
Later on, Western Ukraine was invaded by Polish gentry. During the period of feudalism the city used to be the center of popular uprisings against Polish and Ukrainian exploiters.
A great number of significant events of the war for independence of Ukrainians in 1648-1654 are of close connection to Vinnitsa and Vinnitsa Regiment, which was headed by a very talented military leader Ivan Bogun.
On March 11, 1651 front line troops of Polish forces came up to Vinnitsa. Polish forces and Ukrainian ones were unequal. The garrison of three thousand people, commanded by I. Bogun, was located in Vinnitsa, when Polish army consisted only of two thousand solders. The heroic defense of Vinnitsa had been lasting from the 11 to the 20 of March 1651 and it’s one of the most famous pagers of the war for independence of the Ukrainian nation.
Polish commanders decided to take possession of Vinnitsa by sudden attack and sent here the attachments headed by Lyantskoryanskiy. But Cossacks were very well prepared.
Bogun sent a small cavalry against the Lyantskoryanskiy detachment. After the short fight Cossacks pretended that they were retreating and ensnared Polish cavalry on the ice where the ice-holes were disguised by hay. At this moment cannons and guns assaulted Poles. Substantial part of Polish cavalry that got into ice-holes went down under the ice and after the decisive counter-attack of Bogun’s forces the whole detachment of Lyantskoryanskiy was practically destroyed.
Having got to know about the heroic defense of Vinnitsa, Bogdan Khmelnitskiy sent Bogun two regiments as a help. After that the demoralized remains of Polish forces passed to Bar and then to Kamyanets-Podolskiy. But after the liberation war the wstern part of Ukraine passed to Poland, and Vinnitsa together with the whole Podolye soon went under the power of Turkish sultan. More than two decades Turkish enslavers mastered here. Within this time the city was greatly destroyed and practically completely devastated. When at the very end of the XVII century Poland recovered Podolye, it appeared so that Vinnitsa degraded to the position of the grain-producing settlements. Only in the second part of the XVIII century it gained again the typical features of a city.
The joining of the western and eastern parts of Ukraine to the Russian empire in 1793 put a stop to unceasing, devastating assaults of Turkish-Tatar invaders and Polish oppression. But the fight in Podolye didn’t stop in the XIX century. In 10th -30th the detachments of national avenger Ustima Karmalyuk operated here that led partisan warfare against landowners-landlords. At the end of 50th the mass country movement embraced the whole province. Much earlier, in the 20th of the XIX century in Tulchin “The Southern Fellowship” of Decembrists at the head of P.Pestel started its work.
During the XIX century Vinnitsa remained a desolate provincial city. Even after the reform in 1861 Vinnitsa was in the same condition, although the development of capitalism in the country was fairly quick at that time. It can be explained by the fact that the city was located in a typical agrarian province of Podolye. Only at the end of XIX – the beginning of the XX century Vinnitsa became one of the significant commercial-economic and cultural centers of the western part of Ukraine.
Te railway line Kiev-Odessa that went through Vinnitsa was built in 1871. It assisted in the further development of the city. The history of the pre-revolutionary Vinnitsa is connected with the number of famous people. The great Ukrainian poet M.Kotsyubinskiy was born and lived here for a long period of time. The great Russian scientist M.Pirogov and famous composer M.Leontovich worked and lived in the city of Vinnitsa.
In October 1917 the new period in the history of Vinnitsa began. The period of the foreign intervention and civil war started in February 1918 and lasted till the end of 1920.
After the end of the civil war the process of the national economy revival started. It was held in incredibly severe conditions. Soon the city was completely rebuilt and its industry gained the prewar level and soon after that even surpassed it.
During the time of the Great Patriotic War Vinnitsa experienced all the horrors of fascist intrusion. Thousands of Vinnitsa inhabitants were executed by shooting or subjected to tortures, also taken out to Germany to work. Vinnitsa inhabitants with the weapon in hands defended their native land on fronts and at the rear.
Great changes occurred in Vinnitsa within last years. A great deal of new powerful enterprises grew here, the old ones were completely reconstructed.
Vinnitsa today is one of the largest industrial and cultural cities of Ukraine, the center of Vinnitsa region and Podolskiy economic district.