CHERNIGOV   CHERNIHIV (Ukr);  Czernihòw (Pol).

  1. The Taras Shevchenko theatre at the Red Square...

    The Taras Shevchenko theatre at the Red Square, in the centre of Chernihiv (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    A medieval Russian Principality;

  2. A Russian province;
  3. A Soviet and now Ukrainian oblast (region). 

Named after the city of Chernigov (now Chernihiv), which is northeast of Kiev and stands on the River Desna, a tributary of the Dnieper, which it joins north of Kiev.

The lands of the Great Prince, Yaroslav the Wise, were partitioned among his sons after his death in 1054.   The second son, Sviatoslav, held the Principality of Chernigov, a vast territory which ran from the Dneiper by way of the Desna to beyond Bryansk, then across to the River Oka and the towns of Ryazan and Murom, which are southeast and east of Moscow.

At the end of the century, Ryazan and Murom passed to a younger son of Sviatoslav and thereafter remained separate from Chernigov.   In 1139 another junior branch of the family held the separate Principality of Novgorod Severski, until then the south and east of the Chernigov Principality. The Principality was destroyed by the Mongol/Tatar invasions, its last known Prince dying in 1246.

Whether the Tatars held Chernigov directly or allowed some local prince to rule is not known. In the 1360s and 1370s the Great Principality of Lithuania took the region over.   In 1503 Chernigov was ceded to the Great Prince of Moscow, but in the Time of Troubles just over a century later it came into the hands of Poland, a fact recognised in a truce of 1618 and by Treaty in 1634.   In 1667 it returned to Russia.

Chernigov then belonged to the territories where the Hetman of the Cossacks had authority, an authority that was finally destroyed in the 1780s.   Chernigov was then brought into the normal provincial organisation of Russia, though it was not until 1802 that matters were finally settled and the former Hetmanate (or Little Russia) was divided into the provinces of Chernigov and Poltava.

In the new Soviet order in the 1920s, the province of Chernigov lost its northern lands around Starodub to the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic.   In 1923 the Ukrainian provinces were abolished, but in 1932 a new oblast (region) of Chernihev was created, similar to the old province, except that some of its old southwestern lands had been lost to Kiev.   In 1939 its eastern lands were transferred to the new Sumy oblast.

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