“In 1492, the year Christopher Columbus landed on the Caribbean island he named San Salvador and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella signed a decree expelling the Jews from Spain, the Cossacks made their first appearance in the international arena. According to a complaint sent that year to Grand Duke Alexander of Lithuania by the Crimean khan, subjects of the duke from the cities of Kyiv and Cherkasy had captured and pillaged a Tatar ship in what seems to have been the lower reaches of the Dnieper. The duke never questioned that these might be his people or that they might have engaged in steppe-style highway robbery. He ordered his borderland (the term he used was “Ukrainian”) officials to investigate the Cossacks who might have been involved in the raid. He also ordered that the perpetrators be executed and that their belongings, which apparently had to include the stolen merchandise, be given to a representative of the khan. If Alexander’s orders were carried out, they had no lasting effect. In the following year, the Crimean khan accused Cossacks from Cherkasy of attacking a Muscovite ambassador. In 1499, Cossacks were spotted at the Dnieper estuary ravaging the environs of the Tatar fortress at Ochakiv… To stop Cossack expeditions going down the Dnieper to the Black Sea, the khan considered blocking the Dnieper near Ochakiv with chains“, starts one of the chapters of his book “Gates of Europe: History of Ukraine” Harvard Professor Serhii Plokhii. Why the Ukrainian Cossacks were the subjects of Lithuanian dukes can be learnt in the previous article.
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