Ruthenians - Encyclopedia


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RUTHENIANS, a name applied to those of the Little Russians who are Austrian subjects. The name is a form of the word Russian. The Ruthenians were separated from the bulk of Russians by the accident of the two feudal principalities of the old Red Russia, Halic and Volhynia, having fallen to Lithuania, which in turn was united with Poland. At the partition of Poland no one troubled about ethnological boundaries. The language is in substance like the Little Russian of the Ukraine, though it has marked differences; the most interesting dialects are those in the extreme W., which approach to Slovak and that of the Huzuli in Bukovina. The Ruthenians number some three million in Galicia, Bukovina, and in the Carpathians along the edges of Hungary from the 21st meridian eastwards. Throughout Galicia the Poles form the aristocracy, though in two-thirds of it Ruthenians form the bulk of the population, while the middle class is Jewish or German. The Ruthenians are therefore under an alien yoke both politically and economically: in religion they mostly belong to the Uniate Church, acknowledging the Pope but retaining their Slavonic liturgy and most of the outward forms of the Greek Church. Their intellectual centre is Lemberg (Lviv or Lwow), where some lectures in the university are given in their language, and they are agitating for it to have equal rights with Polish. Yet here Little Russian is freer than in the Russian empire, and in Lemberg is the centre of its literature, the society called by the name of Sevicenko, the Little Russian poet. This society publishes voluminous transactions in a special orthography and deals with everything concerning Little Russia, its archaeology, people and language.

See summary of the work of the Sevicenko for ten years in Archie f. slavische Phil. xxvii. (1905), p. 279.

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