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© Copyright

All rights reserved. Any use of the image without the permission of the author is prohibited. Copyright © 

© Copyright

2016, canvas, oil, 100 X 80 cm. 

Petro Doroshenko

(1627 – 1698)

Petro Dorofiiovych Doroshenko was a Ukrainian statesman, military commander, diplomat, and hetman of Cossack Ukraine from 1665 to 1676. He was born in Chyhyryn (today in Cherkasy oblast) into the Cossack family of Dorofii Doroshenko. It is likely that Petro studied at the Kyivan Mohyla College. He subsequently was colonel of Pryluky, colonel of Cherkasy, and general osaul (aide-de-camp).

Together with Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Petro Doroshenko joined the Zaporozhian Sich in 1647. He later supported Ivan Vyhovsky in his struggle with the opposition. Doroshenko was against the ongoing civil war and sided with Yurii Khmelnytsky in 1659. At the end of 1659 and beginning of 1660, Petro Doroshenko represented the interests of the Hetmanate in Moscow. He took part in the Battle of Chudniv and afterwards signed the ensuing peace treaty. In 1663 Doroshenko was appointed general osaul in the government of Right-Bank Ukraine, headed by Hetman Pavlo Teteria.

To achieve the unification of Right- and Left-Bank Ukraine, Doroshenko took part in the military campaign launched by the Polish King Jan II Casimir to Left-Bank Ukraine in the fall of 1663 and the winter of 1664. On 18 August 1665, having eliminated the danger posed by two of his rivals—Vasyl Drozdenko and Stefan Opara—Petro Doroshenko became hetman of Right-Bank Ukraine. He emphasized that his goal would be to unite Right-Bank and Left-Bank Ukrainian lands under his mace. So as to strengthen his position, on the advice of his friend Metropolitan Yosyf Tukalsky, Hetman Doroshenko implemented several carefully considered reforms. To gain support of rank-and-file Cossacks, Petro Doroshenko often held sessions of the General Council where he heard their thoughts. Seeking to avoid excessive dependence on the Cossack starshyna, he established a corps of 20, 000 mercenaries (serdiuks) to report to him personally.

Nevertheless, Hetman Doroshenko’s most far-reaching achievements were in the realm of foreign affairs. Similar to all hetmans of Right-Bank Ukraine before him, Doroshenko initially maintained a pro-Polish foreign policy orientation. His views, however, changed drastically, when in January 1667 the Treaty of Andrusovo was signed by the Poles and Muscovites. The treaty effectively partitioned the Ukrainian Hetman state into Right-Bank Ukraine, ruled by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Left-Bank Ukraine, remaining under the protectorate of Muscovy. This resulted in Zaporozhian lands becoming jointly controlled by Poland and Muscovy and destined to turn into a buffer zone against the Tatar raids.

In 1669 Doroshenko reached the height of his power, when—with Turkish help—he brought both Left- and Right-Bank Ukraine under his control and declared himself hetman of all Ukraine. The success, however, proved to be short-lived. Unsettled by the expansion of the hetman’s power, many of his opponents sought to destroy it. This time Muscovy, taking advantage of the opportunity, moved against Left-Bank Ukraine and compelled Demian Mnohohrishny, the acting hetman, to renounce Petro Doroshenko’s authority and recognize instead the superiority of the Muscovite tsar.


Understanding the hopelessness of the situation, in 1676 Petro Doroshenko relinquished his mace and handed it over to the hetman of Left-Bank Ukraine, Ivan Samoilovych. In March 1677, as required by Tsar Feodor Alekseevich, Doroshenko departed for Moscow. The tsar was relatively lenient toward Doroshenko when he ordered the exile of “this last of the true Cossacks” to the north and toward the end of his life allowed him to reside at the Yaropolcha estate near Moscow (today in the Volokolamsk district), where Doroshenko died and was buried. Petro Doroshenko entered history as a hetman who dedicated his whole life to fighting for the unification of the Left- and Right-Bank hetmanates under one mace and who constantly sought to improve conditions for the existence of the Cossack state.



History of painting the Petro Doroshenko portrait

I painted this portrait of Petro Doroshenko in 2017 in collaboration with Serhii Shamenkov, researcher of historical garments, and on the basis of historical research done by Dr. Olga Kovalevska. It was thanks to Dr. Kovalevska’s work, who in the process of analyzing all existing portraits of Doroshenko, uncovered a primary source—an engraving of the hetman made during his lifetime by Johann Martin Lerch in 1674.

I also consulted published descriptions of the exhumed remains of Petro Doroshenko that testified to his great height, his large skull and prominent facial features, and his big-boned skeleton and hands. The exhumation took place in the late 1800s during an investigation into the desecration of Doroshenko’s grave in Yaropolcha. This event broke stereotypical views about his appearance—as with every passing century in portraits of Doroshenko, he appeared to grow thinner and more delicate, while his nose became ever smaller.

Translated from Ukrainian by Iryna Fedoriw
English language editing by Jars Balan

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