Successor of Ruthenia

Are Mala Rus’ and Malorossiia one and the same?

Myths and Stereotypes Historical Reality

Mala Rus’ and Malorossiia are one and the same

The term “Rosiia” (Rhos) is the Greek title for the medieval principality of Rus’ centered around Kyiv. It dates to the 9th century and its ancient origin explains why at different times throughout the centuries and in various circumstances the term denotes very different territories. In the 14th–15th centuries, “Mala Rus’” refers to territories of the Galician and Kyivan metropolitanates, and is frequently evident in the ecclesiastical correspondence of Byzantium, centered on the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The term “Malorossiia” has a different meaning and appears in a completely different historical context.

Подвесная печать Юрия Львовича Галицого

Pendant seal of Yuri Lvovych of Halych

In 1303 the Galician-Volhynian prince Yuri Lvovych separates the eparchies of Volodymyr (in Volhynia), Lutsk, Turovsk, Kholm, Galicia and Peremyshl from the Kyivan Metropolitanate to organize the Galician Metropolitanate. Moreover, it is in Prince Yuri’s official title that the term “Mala Rus’” is first used. Furthermore, in 1335, another Galician-Volhynian prince, Yuri-Boleslav, proclaims himself “prince of all Mala Rus’,” thereby marking his domain in what is today the western part of Ukraine. By contrast, in the first half of the 17th century Mala Rus’ is referred to as the Kyivan Metropolitanate. This practice is used to distinguish the Kyivan Church from the Moscow Patriarchate.

In the second half of the 17th century and following the 1654 Treaty of Pereiaslav (see: “The March Statutes of Bohdan Khmelnytsky”) the term “Mala Rus’” more and more evolves into the notion of “Malorossiia,” which is associated with the lands of Left-Bank Ukraine—the Hetmanate (see: “Are Ukraine and Malorossiia [literally Little Russia] one and the same?”).

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