Dear Visitor, this is an outdated version of our website. Although we continue maintaining it, you are more than welcome to visit our new portal containing yet more images and information about Bukovyna. To visit the new version of this page, please, click here: http://bukovyna.in.ua/history.html




Before the 14th century


During Neolithic, Bukovina was populated by Cucuteni-Trypillian culture of early settlers (4500 BC – 3000 BC), which was overrun, around 2000 BC, by the migration of Indo-Europeans.


Starting with the 2nd millennium BC, it was inhabited by the Dacian tribes, such as Costoboci and Carpians, for a period cohabitated also by the Celto-Germanic tribe of Bastarnae. From approx. 70 BC to 44 BC, the region was incorporated in the Dacian polity of Burebista.


When the Dacian Kingdom of Decebal, which included the territories just on the other side of the Carpathian Mountains from what is today Bukovina, fell to the Romans in 106, the area came under linguistic and cultural influence of the Roman Empire.


In 3rd century (240s–270s) the region was plundered by the Goths, in the 4th century by the Huns (370s–380s), and in the 6th century (560s–570s) by the Avars.


Beginning with the 6th century, Slavic populations entered the region and influenced the locals in respect to language and certain agricultural methods (e.g. burning the forests to increase the cultivated land).


In 797 the Avars, who settled in today's Hungary and collected regular tribute from the peasants all over south-eastern Europe, were defeated by Charlemagne.


According to medieval Kievan sources, around 10th century the territory could have been part of the Kyivan Rus, and in 12th to early 14th century, Principality of Halych-Volhynia, included parts of the region. Some sources state that the low-land territory of the present-day Bukovina was included in an early Vlach polity around the city of Siret.


The villages of the Campulung Valley formed a "republic" that preserved its autonomy even under the Principality of Moldavia, which acquired independence in 1359.


Moldavian Principality


In the mid-14th century, the Moldavian state appeared, eventually expanding its territory all the way to the Black Sea. Bukovina and neighboring regions were the nucleus of the Moldavian Principality, with the city of Suceava as its capital from 1388 (after Baia and Siret). The name of Moldavia (Moldova) is derived from a river (Moldova River) flowing in Bukovina.


In the 15th century, Pokuttya, the region immediately to the north, became the subject of disputes between the Principality of Moldavia and the Polish Kingdom. Pokuttya was inhibited by Ruthenians (predecessors of modern Ukrainians) and Hutsuls; the latter also reside in western Bukovina. In 1497 a battle took place at the Cosmin Forest (the hilly forests separating Chernivtsi and Siret valleys), at which Stephen III of Moldavia managed to defeat the much-stronger but demoralized army of King John I Albert of Poland. The battle is known in Polish popular culture as "the battle when the knights have perished".


In this period, the patronage of Stephen III of Moldavia and his successors on the throne of Moldavia saw the construction of the famous painted monasteries of Moldoviţa, Suceviţa, Putna, Humor, Voroneţ, Dragomirna, Arbore, and others. With their renowned exterior frescoes, these monasteries remain some of the greatest cultural treasures of Romania; some of them are World Heritage Sites, part of the painted churches of northern Moldavia. Stephen also settled the first Ruthenians in Bukovina with the hope of having a loyal and more numerous population that would contribute with taxes.[citation needed] In Suceava, in the 16th century, two percent of the population (i.e. about 500–1000 people) was Ruthenian.[citation needed]


In 1513, Moldavia started to pay annual tribute to the Ottoman Empire, but remained autonomous and was governed as before by a native Voivod / Prince, also known as Domnitor or Hospodar (Lord in English).


In May, 1600 Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave), united the three Romanian principalities under his leadership.


For short periods of time (during wars), the Polish Kingdom occupied parts of northern Moldavia. However, the old border was re-established every time after, as for example on 14 October 1703 the Polish delegate Martin Chometowski acknowledges "Between us and Wallachia (i.e. Moldavia) God himself set Dniester as the border" (Inter nos et Valachiam ipse Deus flumine Tyras dislimitavit).


In the course of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774, the Ottoman armies were defeated by the Russian Empire, that occupied the region during 15 December 1769 – September 1774, and previously during 14 September–October 1739. Bukovina was the reward the Habsburgs received for aiding the Ottomans in that war. Prince Grigore III Ghica of Moldavia protested and was prepared to take action to recover the territory, but was assassinated, and a Greek-Phanariot foreigner was put on the throne of Moldavia by the Ottomans.


Austrian Empire


The Austrian Empire occupied Bukovina in October 1774. Following the first partition of Poland in 1772, the Austrians claimed that they needed it for a road between Galicia and Transylvania. Bukovina was formally annexed in January 1775. On 2 July 1776, at Palamutka, Austrians and Ottomans signed a border convention, Austrians giving back 59 of the previously occupied villages, and remaining with 278 villages.


Bukovina was a closed military district (1775–1786), then the largest district, Kreis Czernowitz (after its capital Czernowitz) of the Austrian constituent Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria (1787–1849), and, finally, on 4 March 1849, became a separate Austrian Kronland 'crown land' under a Landespräsident (not a Statthalter, as in other crown lands) and declared Herzogtum Bukowina (nominal duchy, as part of the official full style of the Austrian Emperors). In 1860 it was again amalgamated with Galicia, but reinstated as a separate province once again 26 February 1861, a status that would last until 1918.


In 1849 Bukovina got a representative assembly, the Landtag (diet). The Moldavian nobility had traditionally formed the ruling class in that territory. In 1867 it remained part of the Cisleithanian or Austrian territories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918.


According to the 1775 Austrian census, the province had the total population of 86,000, made up mostly of Romanians (Moldovans), and up to 10,000 Slavs (Polish, Ruthenians and Hutzuls). During the 19th century the Austrian Empire policies encouraged the influx of many immigrants such as Germans, Poles, Jews, Hungarians, and Ukrainians (that time referred to as Ruthenians) from Galicia. By 1900 the Romanian population decreased to roughly 40% of Bukovina, with significant Ukrainian (including Hutzuls) (especially in villages in the northern half), German, Jewish, Polish (especially in towns), and Hungarian (several villages) minorities. To reflect this ethnicity shift, in 1843 the Ruthenian language was recognized, along with the Romanian language, as 'the language of the people and of the Church in Bukovina'.


Late-19th to early-20th centuries


Bukovina in 1901


The 1871 and 1904 jubilees held at Putna Monastery, near the tomb of Ştefan cel Mare, have constituted tremendous moments for Romanian national identity in Bukovina. Since gaining its independence, Romania envisioned to incorporate this historic province which, as a core of Moldavian Principality, was of a great historic significance to its history and contained many prominent monuments of its art and architecture.[5]


Despite the influx of migrants encouraged under the Austrian rule, Romanians continued to be the largest ethnic group in the province until 1880, when Ruthenians (Ukrainians) outnumbered the Romanians 5:4. According to the 1880 census there were 239,690 Ruthenians and Hutsuls, or roughly 41.5% of the population of the region, while Romanians were second with 190,005 people or 33%, a ratio that remained unchanged until World War I. Ruthenian is an archaic name for Ukrainian, while the Hutsuls are nowadays considered as an ethnic group of Ukrainian stock (ethnically Vlach shepherds who acquired a Slavic (Ukrainian) language).


Under Austrian rule Bukovina remained ethnically mixed: predominantly Romanian in the south, Ukrainian (commonly referred to as Ruthenians in the Empire) in the north, with small numbers of Hungarian Székely, Slovak and Polish peasants, and Germans, Poles and Jews in the towns. The 1910 census counted 800,198 people, of which: Ruthenian 38.88%, Romanian 34.38%, German 21.24%, Jews 12.86%, Polish 4.55%, Hungarian 1.31%, Slovak 0.08%, Slovene 0.02%, Italian 0.02%, and a few Armenian, Croat, Gypsy, Serbian, and Turkish. Romanians were still present in all settlements of the region, but their number decreased in the villages in the north. Many of Bukovina's Germans, and a few Romanians, emigrated in 19th and 20th century to North America.[6][7][8] Some Romanian historians, such as Ion Nistor wrote that some Ukrainians were "Romanians who have forgotten the Romanian language”.


In 1783, by an imperial decree Greek Orthodox eparchies in Bukovina and Dalmatia form an Archbishopric with its seat in Czernowitz, later raised to the rank of Metropolitanate.[9] Some friction appeared in time between the Serb archbishops, and the Romanians complaining that Old Slavonic is favored to Romanian, and that family names are being slavicized. In spite of Romanian-Slav frictions over the influence in the local Orthodox clerical hierarchy, there was no Romanian-Ukrainian inter-ethnic tension, and both cultures developed in educational and public life. Moreover, at the end of the 19th century, the development of Ukrainian culture in Bukovina surpassed Galicia and the rest of Ukraine with a network of Ukrainian educational facilities.


In the early 20th century, a group of scholars surrounding the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand created a plan (that never came to pass) of United States of Greater Austria. The specific proposal was published in Aurel C. Popovici's book "Die Vereinigten Staaten von Groß-Österreich" [The United States of Greater Austria], Leipzig, 1906. According to it, most of Bukovina (including Czernowitz) would form, with Transylvania, a Romanian state, while the north-western portion (Zastavna, Kozman, Waschkoutz, Wiznitz, Gura Putilei, and Seletin districts) would form with the bigger part of Galicia a Ukrainian state, both in a federation with 13 other states under the Austrian crown.


Kingdom of Romania


In World War I, several battles were fought in Bukovina between the Austro-Hungarian, German, and Russian armies, which resulted in the Russian army being driven out in 1917.


With the collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1918, both the local Romanian National Council and the Ukrainian National Council based in Galicia claimed the region. A Constituent Assembly on 14/27 October 1918 formed an Executive Committee, to whom the Austrian governor of the province handed power. The Executive Committee called a General Congress of Bukovina for 15/28 November 1918, where 74 Romanians, 13 Ruthenians, 7 Germans, and 6 Poles were elected (this is the linguistic composition, and Jews were not recorded as a separate group). A popular enthusiasm sprang throughout the region, and a large number of people gathered in the city to wait for the resolution of the Congress.


The Congress elected the Romanian Bukovinian politician Iancu Flondor as chairman, and voted for the union with the Kingdom of Romania, with the support of the Romanian, German, Jewish, and Polish representatives, and the opposition of the Ukrainian ones. The reasons stated were that, until its takeover by the Habsburg in 1775, Bukovina was the heart of the Principality of Moldavia, where the "gropniţele domneşti" (voivods' burial sites) are located, and "dreptul de liberă hotărâre de sine" (right of self-determination).


After an official request by Iancu Flondor, Romanian troops swiftly moved in to take over the territory, against Ukrainian protest. Although local Ukrainians attempted to incorporate parts of northern Bukovina into the short-lived West Ukrainian People's Republic, this attempt was defeated by the Polish and Romanian troops. Romanian control of the province was recognized internationally in the Treaty of St. Germain in 1919.


During the interwar period Romanian authorities directed Rumanization policies at the Ukrainian population of the region. Romanian language was introduced into ethnic minority schools in 1923, and by 1926 all Ukrainian schools in Bukovina were closed.


At the same time, the Ukrainian enrollment in the Cernăuţi University fell from 239 out of 1671, in 1914, to 155 out of 3,247, in 1933, while Romanian enrollment in the same period increased several times to 2,117 out of 3,247. This was partly due to some extent to attempts to switch to mostly Romanian language, but chiefly to the fact that the university was one of only five in Romania, and was considered prestigious.


In the decade following 1928, as Romania tried to improve its relations with the Soviet Union, Ukrainian culture was given some limited means to redevelop, though the gains were sharply reversed in 1938.


According to the 1930 Romanian census, Romanians made up almost 45% of the total population of Bukovina and Ruthenians (Ukrainians) 29.2%. However, in the northern part of the region, which subsequently was ceded to the USSR following the June 1940 Soviet Ultimatum, Romanians made up only 32.6% of the population, while Ukrainians slightly outnumbered Romanians.


In 1940, when the region was occupied by the Soviet Union, Chernivtsi Oblast (⅔ of which is Northern Bukovina) had a population of circa 805,000, out of which 47.5% were Ukrainians in 1940, and 28.3% were Romanians, with Germans, Jews, Poles, Hungarians and Russians comprising the rest.[citation needed] Some Romanian intellectuals fled the region before the Soviet occupation. The strong Ukrainian presence was the official motivation for inclusion of the region into the Ukrainian SSR and not into the newly-formed Moldavian SSR. Whether the region would have been included in the Ukrainian SSR, if the commission presiding over the division had been led by someone else than the Ukrainian communist leader Nikita Khrushchev, remains a matter of debate among scholars. In fact, some territories with a mostly Romanian population (e.g. Hertza Region) were allotted to the Ukrainian SSR.


Preceding events and Second World War


Following the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, the June 1940 Soviet Ultimatum demanded from Romania the northern part of Bukovina, a region bordering Galicia (the latter annexed by the Soviet Union at 1939 Poland's partition in 1939). The Soviet demand for Bukovina surprised Nazi Germany, though it did not formally oppose it. In the first Soviet ultimatum addressed to the Romanian government, the partly Ukrainian populated northern Bukovina was "demanded" as a minor "reparation for the great loss produced to the Soviet Union and Bassarabia's population by twenty-two years of Romanian domination of Bassarabia". On 28 June 1940, the Romanian government evacuated Northern Bukovina, and the Red Army moved in, with the new Soviet-Romanian border being traced less than 20 kilometers north of Putna Monastery.


In the course of the 1941 attack on the Soviet Union by the Axis forces, the Romanian Third Army led by General Petre Dumitrescu (operating in the north) and the Fourth Romanian Army (operating in the south) re-occupied Northern Bukovina, as well as Hertsa district, and Bassarabia, during June–July 1941. However, then it continued the war, and occupied during 1941–1944 proper Soviet territories in the south of Ukrainian SSR—the Odessa Oblast, and parts of Mykolaiv and Vinnytsia oblasts.



After the war


Spring 1945 saw the formation of transports of Polish repatriates who (voluntarily or by coercion) had decided to leave. Between March 1945 and July 1946, 10,490 inhabitants left northern Bukovina for Poland, including 8,140 Poles, 2,041 Jews and 309 of other nationalities.


Overall, between 1930 (last Romanian census) and 1959 (first Soviet census), the population of northern Bukovina decreased by 31,521 people. According to official data from those two censuses, the Romanian population had decreased by 75,752 people, and the Jewish population by 46,632, while the Ukrainian and Russian populations increased by 135,161 and 4,322 people, respectively.


After 1944, the human and economic connections between the northern (Soviet) and southern (Romanian) parts of Bukovina were severed. While the northern part is the nucleus of the Ukrainian Chernivtsi Oblast, the southern part is tightly integrated with the other Romanian historic regions.

The text is based on the information from http://wikipedia.org