On the Historical Foundations of Belarusian Identity


  • Hienadz Sahanovic University of Warsaw


Belarus, Belarusian history, Early Modern Belarus, Belarusian Identity, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth


The article addresses the problem of the modern preconditions for the formation of the Belarusian nation. Among the open questions investigated by the author are the identification of the period in which the specific collective identity of the population settled on the territory of today's Belarus emerged, as well as the study of historical and cultural factors that may have influenced their national identity. As proposed in the article, the inhabitants of the territories of today's Belarus did not begin to consider the Grand Duchy of Moscow as a separate political entity until at least the 15th century: similarly, it is possible that they did not perceive themselves differently from the Ruthenians of Ukraine before the 17th century. It was only with the Chmel'nyc'kyj uprising and, in particular, during the war between Muscovy and the Polish-Lithuanian Confederation (1654-1657) that the peoples of the Belarusian and Ukrainian regions of Ruthenia began to exhibit significant differences in their interests, values and cultural peculiarities. The long-standing membership of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the historical interaction of the Slavs with the Baltic peoples helped shape many specific traits of Belarusian culture and laid the basis for the historical foundations of Belarusian identity as an independent national community. It therefore seems appropriate to associate the creation of the Belarusian nation not only with the Ruthenian identity, but also with the Lithuanian tradition.





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