Scientific Information Agency
25 November 2021

From the History of Ukrainian Ethnonymy (From Ruthenians to Ukrainians)

Ukrainian historical journal
From the History of Ukrainian Ethnonymy (From Ruthenians to Ukrainians)

Ukrainian people changed their title because of certain circumstances. The first title of Ukrainian people, who established in the final stage of its formation (late 12th — 13th — early 13th — 14th centuries), was a joint term “Rus’ ” (in plural) and “Ruthenian” (in singular), later “Ruthenians”. This form of exonym that is associated with the name of the country — “Rus’ ” is found in the different documents of to the early 18th century, common people used it longer. However, after entering the Eastern Ukraine into the Russian Empire exonym “Rus’ ”/“Ruthenian” in the official documents was replaced into “Malorosiiany” (Small Russians) by Moscow authorities. This process started the destruction of Ukrainian exonomy, though the ethnos continued to exist. The term “Ruthenians” retreats on the Right Bank, and then to the west of Ukrainian ethnic territory. Along with the destruction of the old name (“Ruthenians”), on the territory of the Cossack Ukraine there is a new, firstly a regional exonym “Ukrainians”. This term was caused by the events of Cossack Revolution of the mid 17th century and the emergence on the territory of actual Ukraine (frontier territories of Wild Field) the Het’man state. In the 19th century, in order to counter the monopolization of Russia to Old Rus’ heritage, Ukrainian intellectuals began to use the terms “Ukraine” and “Ukrainians”. The new term is finally established in Ukraine in the middle of the 20th century.

Source: Balushok V. (2018) From the History of Ukrainian Ethnonymy (From “Ruthenians” to “Ukrainians”). Ukrainian historical journal. 2: 163-178

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