Zaporozhian Cossacks

The Zaporozhian Cossacks, Zaporozhian Cossack Army, Zaporozhian Host (Ukrainian: Військо Запорозьке, romanized: Viisko Zaporozke,[1] or Військо Запорізьке, Viisko Zaporizke, Russian: Войско Запорожское, romanized: Voysko Zaporozhskoye) or simply Zaporozhians (Ukrainian: Запорожці, romanized: Zaporozhtsi, Russian: Запорожцы, romanized: Zaporozhtsy, Polish: Kozacy zaporoscy, Czech: Záporožští kozáci) were Cossacks who lived beyond (that is, downstream from) the Dnieper Rapids, the land also known under the historical term Wild Fields in today's Central Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine. Today much of the territory is flooded by the waters of Kakhovka Reservoir.

The Zaporozhian Sich grew rapidly in the 15th century from serfs fleeing the more controlled parts of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.[2] It became established as a well-respected political entity with a parliamentary system of government. During the course of the 16th, 17th and well into the 18th century, the Zaporozhian Cossacks were a strong political and military force that challenged the authority of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Tsardom of Russia, and the Crimean Khanate.

The Host went through a series of conflicts and alliances involving the three powers, including supporting an uprising in the 18th century. Their leader signed a treaty with the Russians. This group was forcibly disbanded in the late 18th century by the Russian Empire, with most of the population relocated to the Kuban region in the South edge of the Russian Empire. The Cossacks served a valuable role of conquering the Caucasian tribes and in return enjoyed considerable freedom granted by the Tsars.

The name Zaporozhtsi comes from the location of their fortress, the Sich, in Zaporozhzhia "land beyond the rapids", from Ukrainian za "beyond" and poróhy "rapids".