Ukraine during the second half of the XVII century passed a difficult and dramatic way from an independent state in the time of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky to the autonomous part of the Moscow Tsardom at the time when the hetman’s mace was given to Ivan Mazepa. During the time when Ukraine was under the rule of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the gradual process of the formation of the main institutes of the Kazak state took place. Created by Hetman Khmelnytsky Cossack Army gained in 1648 a number of brilliant victories over the army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Battle of Zhovti Vody, Battle of Korsun, Battle of Pyliavtsi.
The territory of the state received a clearly defined regimental structure. Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky became a full-fledged head of state with all the attributes of power. The sovereign nature of this power was confirmed by numerous political alliances concluded with the leaders of different states (the Crimean Khanate, Ottoman Porte, Moscow Tsardom, Swedish Empire).
After the death of Bohdan Khmelnytsky hetman’s mace was given to Ivan Vyhovsky, elected on the military council in Chyhyryn. At the same time, an opposition to the newly elected hetman led by Poltava colonel Martin Pushkar and Zaporozhian Cossack Ataman Iakiv Barabash emerged in Ukraine. The opposition was supported by the Moscow authorities. The decisive battle between Vyhovsky’s forces and Martin Pushkar’s Cossacks took place on June 1, 1658, near Poltava and ended with the victory of the hetman’s army. This event marked the beginning of a civilian confrontation in Ukraine. Since then, an important factor in Ukrainian politics has become the constant interference in the affairs of the Hetmanate from the Moscow Tsardom, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Ottoman Porte. Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky’s attempt to find an understanding with the Polish king by signing the Hadiach Treaty of 1658 was not successful. Even a bright victory of the Ukrainian army in the Battle of Konotop (1659) did not help him to hold the hetman’s mace.
The next period in the history of Ukraine is characterized by the political division of Ukraine into Left and Right Banks and the gradual advance of the tsarist power on the freedom of the Ukrainian Cossacks. During this time, Ukraine turned into an arena of armed confrontation of both internal and external forces. The period of partial stabilization of the Cossacks State comes at a time when Ukraine was under the rule of Hetman Ivan Samoylovych.
When Hetman Ivan Mazepa came to power in Left-Bank Ukraine (1687), this event marked the end of the civil war and the beginning of the economic and cultural revival of Ukraine. Signed by the hetman Kolomatsky and Moscovski articles finally approved the Hetmanate’s autonomous status and obliged it to take an active part in all armed conflicts of the Moscow Tsardom.
An important role in the formation of the Ukrainian state played the regiments of the Poltava region: Myrgorod, Lubny, Hadiach, and Poltava. The Poltava Regiment was formed in 1648 and became an active participant in the Ukrainian National Revolution. Its territory was an important economic base of the young state. As the southernmost administrative and military unit of the Hetmanate, the Poltava Regiment took an active part in the fight against the Turkish-Tatar troops and repeatedly suffered losses. At the same time, the Poltava Regiment remained interested in maintaining mutually beneficial trade relations with the Crimean Khanate. The political preferences of the Cossacks of this regiment traditionally tended to the democratic principles of the Zaporozhian Sich, which contemporaries often called as “The Cossack Christian republic” and “The knight order”. The most famous Cossack ataman was Ivan Sirko (1605-1680), who repeatedly elected the Koshovyi Otaman of the Zaporozhian Sich. However, protecting primarily the freedom of the Zaporozhian Cossacks and being the armed force of the Ukrainian people, the Zaporozhian Cossacks simultaneously played a destructive role in the process of Ukrainian state formation. The Cossack era in the history of Ukraine left not only the memory of military victories and struggle for the Ukrainian State, but also had significant influence on culture and everyday life. The Poltava region is considered to be the center for the development of Ukrainian culture. That is why many household items used in the Poltava region are recognized as typically Ukrainian. Many events of the Cossack era in the history of Ukraine were described by the famous Cossack chronicler Samiilo Velychko, who was our fellow countryman.
In the hall dedicated to the Cossack state on the eve of the Great Northern war, visitors can see many portraits of hetmans and the most famous Cossack commanders, traditional Cossack weapons and regalia, household items, archaeological finds, documents dated 17th and 18th centuries, maps of Ukraine, etc.