Carpathian Ruthenia

Carpathian Ruthenia, Transcarpathian Ruthenia, Rusinko, Subcarpathian Rus, Subcarpathia (Rusyn and Ukrainian: Карпатська Русь, romanised: "Karpats’ka Rus’"; Slovak and Czech: "Podkarpatská Rus"; Hungarian: "Kárpátalja"; Romanian: "Transcarpatia"; _yi. קאַרפַּאטן רוּס) is a small region of Central Europe, now mostly in western Ukraine's Zakarpattia Oblast (Ukrainian: "Zakarpats’ka oblast’"), easternmost Slovakia (largely in Prešov kraj and Košice kraj), Poland's Lemkovyna and Romanian Maramureş. It is inhabited by Ruthenian-speakers (Carpatho-Rusyns, Lemkos), and Hungarian, Romanian, Ukrainian and Russian populations.


During the region's period of Hungarian rule lasting approximately a thousand years, it was officially referred to as "Subcarpathia" ( _hu. Kárpátalja) or "North-Eastern Upper Hungary".

After the Treaty of Trianon of 1920 and until 1938-9, when Hungary gained it in two phases, the region was part of Czechoslovakia and it was referred to as "Subcarpathian Rus" (Czech and Slovak: Podkarpatská Rus) or "Subcarpathian Ukraine" (Czech and Slovak: Podkarpatská Ukrajina), and from 1927 as the "Subcarpathian Land" [cite web | title=Subcarpathian Rus’/Podkarpats’ka Rus’ | url= | accessdate=2007-06-10] (Czech: Země podkarpatoruská, Slovak: Krajina podkarpatoruská). Alternative, unofficial names used in Czechoslovakia before World War II included "Subcarpathia" (Czech and Slovak: Podkarpatsko), "Transcarpathia" (Czech and Slovak: Zakarpatsko), "Transcarpathian Ukraine" (Czech and Slovak: Zakarpatská Ukrajina), "Carpathian Rus/Ruthenia" (Czech and Slovak: Karpatská Rus) and, rarely, "Hungarian Rus/Ruthenia" ( _cs. Uherská Rus; Slovak: Uhorská Rus).

The region briefly declared its independence in 1939 as "Carpatho-Ukraine".

Since 1945, as part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the subsequent independent state of Ukraine, the region has been referred to as "Zakarpattia" ( _uk. Закарпаття) or "Transcarpathia", as well as "Carpathian Rus’" ( _uk. Карпатська Русь, translit. "Karpats’ka Rus’"), "Transcarpathian Rus’" ( _uk. Закарпатська Русь, translit. "Zakarpats’ka Rus’"), "Subcarpathian Rus’" ( _uk. Підкарпатська Русь, translit. "Pidkarpats’ka Rus’").


Carpathian Ruthenia rests on the southern slopes of the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, bordered to the east by the Tisza River, and to the west by the Hornád and Poprad Rivers, and makes up part of the Pannonian Plain.

Cities and towns

* Uzhhorod
* Mukachevo
* Hust
* Berehovo
* Vynohradiv
* Chop
* Svaliava
* Rakhiv
* Tiachiv
* Irshava

Historic overview

Slavic tribes began settling in the area of Carpathian Ruthenia in the 6th century, following the invasion of the Huns. By the 7th and 8th centuries, a denser population referred to as the White Croats had settled on the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains. A great deal of this territory and its settlers subsequently became the western edge of the Kievan Rus’ principality at the start of the 9th century, while the western part of this territory came to be part of Great Moravia.

When Tsar Simeon the Great began expanding his kingdom of Bulgaria, he gained control of a segment of this "White Croatia", forcing Prince Laborec (a local ruler) to recognize his authority by the end of the 9th century. In 896 the Proto-Magyars crossed the Carpathian Range and migrated into this territory. Prince Laborec fell from power under the efforts of the Magyars and the Kievan forces; many of these forces remained behind and were assimilated by the White Croats.

As the Magyars had migrated through Carpathian Ruthenia in the 9th century, many of the local inhabitants were assimilated Hungarians, and the local Ruthenian nobility often intermarried with the Hungarian nobles to the south. Prince Rostislav, a Ruthenian noble unable to continue his family's rule of Kiev, governed a great deal of Carpathian Ruthenia from 1243 to 1261 for his father-in-law, Béla IV of Hungary.

The territory's ethnic diversity increased with the influx of some 40,000 Cuman settlers, who came to settle in the area after their defeat by Volodimir II (Monomakh) of Kiev in the 12th century and their ultimate defeat at the hands of the Tatars in 1238.

From 1526, the region was under Habsburg rule (within the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary). Since 1570, the region was divided between the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary and Ottoman Transylvania. During this period, an important factor in the Ruthenian cultural identity, namely religion, came to the fore. The Unions of Brest-Litovsk (1595) and of [ Uzhorod] [1646) were instituted, causing the Byzantine Orthodox Churches of Carpathian and Transcarpathian Rus to come under the jurisdiction of Rome, thus establishing so-called "Unia", or Eastern Catholic churches in the region, the Ruthenian Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. In the 17th century (until 1648) the entire region was part of Transylvania, and between 1682 and 1685, its north-western part belonged to the Principality of the prince Imre Thököly, while south-eastern parts belonged to Transylvania. Since 1699, the entire region was part of the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary.

Between 1850 and 1860 the Kingdom of Hungary was divided into five military districts, and the region was part of the Military District of Košice. In 1918 and 1919, the region for the short time was part of the independent West Ukraine Republic. Carpathian Ruthenia, as well as a broader region, was occupied by Romania from April 1919 until July or August 1919, and then was recoccupied by Hungary. After World War I and the Treaty of Trianon (1920), Carpathian Rus became part of Czechoslovakia. Whether this was widely popular among the mainly peasant population, is debatable; clearly, however, what mattered most to Ruthenians was not which country they would join, but that they be granted autonomy within it. After their experience of Magyarization, few Carpathian Rusyns were eager to remain under Hungarian rule, and they desired to ensure self-determination.

On November 8, 1918, the first National Council (the Lubovňa Council, which was later reconvened as the Prešov Council) was held in western Ruthenia. The first of many councils, it simply stated the desire of its members to separate from Hungary, but did not specify a particular alternative — only that it must involve the right to self-determination. Over the next months, councils met every few weeks, calling for various solutions. Some wanted to remain part of Hungary but with greater autonomy; the most notable of these, the Uzhhorod Council (November 9, 1918), declared itself the representative of the Rusyn people and began negotiations with Hungary, resulting in the adoption of Law no. 10, making four of the Rusyn counties autonomous. Other councils, such as the Carpatho-Ruthenian National Council meetings in Khust (November 1918), called for unification with a Ukrainian state. It was only in early January 1919 that the first calls were heard in Rus for union with Czechoslovakia.Fact|date=March 2007

Prior to this, in July 1918, Rusyn immigrants in the United States had convened and called for complete independence. Failing that, they would try to unite with Galicia and Bukovina; and failing that, they would demand , though they did not specify under which state. They approached the American government and were told that the only viable option was unification with Czechoslovakia. Their leader, Gregory Zatkovich, then signed the "Philadelphia Agreement" with Czech President Tomáš Masaryk, guaranteeing Rusyn autonomy upon unification with Czechoslovakia. A referendum was held among American Rusyn parishes, with a resulting 67% in favor. Another 28% voted for union with Ukraine, and less than one percent each for Galicia, Hungary and Russia. Less than 2% desired complete independence.

In May 1919, a Central National Council convened under Zatkovich and voted unanimously to accept the Czechoslovak solution. Back in Rus, on May 8, 1919, a general meeting of representatives from all the previous councils was held, and declared that "The Central Russian National Council... completely endorse the decision of the American Uhro-Rusin Council to unite with the Czech-Slovak nation on the basis of full national autonomy." Zatkovich was appointed governor of the province by Masaryk on April 20, 1920 and resigned almost a year later, on April 17, 1921, to return to his law practice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The reason for his resignation was dissatisfaction with the autonomy granted by Prague. His tenure is a historical anomaly as the only American citizen ever acting as governor of a province that later became a part of the USSR.

The Treaty of St. Germain (September 10, 1919) granted the Carpathian Rusyns that autonomy, which was later upheld to some extent by the Czechoslovak constitution. Some rights were, however, withheld by Prague, which justified its actions by claiming that the process was to be a gradual one; and Rusyn representation in the national sphere was less than that hoped for. In 1927, Czechoslovakia was divided into four provinces and one of them was Sub-Carpathian Rus.

While it was the Rusyns themselves who had arrived at the decision to join the Czechoslovak state, it is debatable whether "their decision" had any influence on the outcome. At the Paris Peace Conference, several other countries (including Hungary, Ukraine and Russia) laid claim to Carpathian Rus. The Allies, however, had few alternatives to choosing Czechoslovakia. Hungary had lost the war and therefore gave up its claims; Ukraine was seen as politically unviable; and Russia was in the midst of a civil war. Thus the Rusyns' decision to become part of Czechoslovakia can only have been important in creating, at least initially, good relations between the leaders of Carpathian Rus and Czechoslovakia.

In November 1938, under the First Vienna Award — which was a result of the Munich Agreement — Czechoslovakia, and later Slovakia, were forced by Germany and Italy to cede the southern third of Slovakia and southern Carpathian Rus to Hungary. The remainder of Carpathian Rus received .

Following Adolf Hitler's seizure of Czechoslovakia in 1939, on March 15 Carpatho-Rus declared its independence as the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine, with Avhustyn Voloshyn as head of state, and was immediately invaded and annexed by Hungary. On March 23 Hungary annexed further parts of eastern Slovakia west of Carpatho-Rus.

After World War II, in June 1945, a treaty was signed between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, ceding Carpatho-Rus to the Soviet Union. In 1946, Rus was incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The latter in 1991 became the independent state of Ukraine, with Carpatho-Rus as an integral part. Currently, the region is a province within Ukraine, officially known as Zakarpattia Oblast.("See Zakarpattia Oblast for history past that time.")


Carpathian Ruthenia is inhabited mainly by Ruthenian-speakers (Rusyns, Lemkos and since 1945 Ukrainians who may refer to themselves and their language as "Rusnak" or "Lemko"). Places inhabited by Rusyns also span other, adjacent regions of the Carpathian Mountains, and include small regions of present day Poland, Hungary, Romania, and the Balkans as well.

According to the 1880 census, the population of the present-day territory of Carpathian Ruthenia (Zakarpattia Oblast) was composed of:
* Ruthenians/Rusyns = 244,742 (59.8%)
* Magyars = 105,343 (25.7%)
* Germans = 31,745 (7.8%)
* Romanians = 16,713 (4.1%)
* Slovaks and Czechs = 8,611 (2.1%)
* others = 1,817 (0.5%)

According to the 1989 census, the population of the present-day territory of Carpathian Ruthenia (Zakarpattia Oblast) was composed of:
* Ukrainians = 976,749 (78.4%)
* Magyars = 155,711 (12.5%)
* Russians = 49,456 (4.0%)
* Romanians = 29,485 (2.4%)
* others

According to the 2001 census [] , the population of Zakarpattia Oblast was composed of:
* Ukrainians = 1,010,100 (80.5%)
* Magyars = 151,500 (12.1%)
* Romanians = 32,100 (2.6%)
* Russians = 31,000 (2.5%)
* Roma people = 14,000 (1.1%)
* Slovaks = 5,600 (0.5%)
* German = 3,500 (0.3%)

The Rusyn people living in Ukraine are not recognised as a distinct nation but rather as an ethnic group of Ukrainians. About 10,100 people (0.8%) identify themselves as Rusyns according to the last census [] .


The area of present-day Carpathian Ruthenia was probably settled by Slavic tribes in the 6th century. The Ruthene population was ethnically the same as the population of the areas north of the Carpathian Mountains.

However, because of geographical and political isolation from the main Ruthenian-speaking territory, the inhabitants developed some distinctive features. In addition, between the 12th and 15th centuries, the area was colonized by groups of Vlach highlanders. They were assimilated into the local Slavic population, but strongly influenced the culture, making it more distinctive from the culture of other Ruthenian-speaking areas.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Carpathian Ruthenia was a field of struggle between Ukrainian-nationalist and pro-Russian activists. The former asserted that the Carpatho-Ruthenians were part of the Ukrainian nation, while the latter claimed them to be a separate ethnicity and nationality, or part of the Russian ethnos.

In the 19th century and the first part of the 20th, the inhabitants of Carpathian Ruthenia called themselves "Ruthenians" ("Rusyny"). After Soviet annexation the term "Ukrainian," which had replaced "Ruthenian" in eastern Ukraine a century earlier, was imposed to Ruthenians/Rusyns of Carpathian Ruthenia. Most present-day inhabitants consider themselves Ukrainians, although in the most recent census 10,100 people (0.8%) identified themselves as Rusyns.


Carpathian Ruthenia was a part of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary from the 11th century. From 1526, the region was within the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary, and since 1570, it was divided between the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary and the principality of Transylvania under Ottoman suzerainty. In the 17th century (until 1648) the entire region was part of Transylvania, and between 1682 and 1685, its north-western part belonged to the Hungarian Principality of the prince Imre Thököly, while south-eastern parts belonged to Transylvania. Since 1699, the entire region was part of the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the nobility and middle class in the region was almost solely Hungarian-speaking. Following separation of Carpathian Ruthenia from the Kingdom of Hungary, the Hungarian population decreased slightly; the Hungarian census of 1910 shows 185,433, the Czechoslovak census of 1921 shows 111,052, but much of this difference presumably reflects differences in methodology and definitions rather than such a large decline in the region's ethnic Hungarian (Magyar) or Hungarian-speaking population. Even according to the 1921 census, Hungarians still constituted about 18% of the region's total population.

On the eve of World War II, the First Vienna Award allowed Hungary to annex Carpathian Ruthenia. The pro-Nazi policies of the Hungarian government subsequently resulted in extermination and emigration of Hungarian-speaking Jews and other groups living in the territory were decimated by war. The end of the war was a cataclysm particularly for the ethnic Hungarian population of the area: 10,000 fled before the arrival of Soviet forces. Many of the remaining adult men (25,000) were deported to the Soviet Union; about 30% of them died in Soviet gulags. As a result of this development since 1938, the Hungarian-speaking population of Carpathian Ruthenia decreased from 161,000 in 1941 (according to a contested Hungarian census) to 66,000 in 1947 (an equally contested Soviet census); the low 1947 number can be partially attributed to Hungarians' fear to declare their true nationality.

As of 2004, about 170,000 (12-13%) inhabitants of Transcarpathia declare Hungarian as their mother tongue. Homeland Hungarians refer to Hungarians in Ukraine as "kárpátaljaiak".


Memoirs and historical studies provide much evidence that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Rusyn-Jewish relations were generally peaceful. In 1939, census records showed that 80,000 Jews lived in the autonomous province of Ruthenia. Jews were approximately 14% of the prewar population, but they were concentrated in larger towns, especially Mukachevo, where they constituted 43% of the prewar population.

During the Holocaust 17 main ghettos were set up in cities in Ruthenia, from which all Jews were taken to Auschwitz for extermination. Ruthenian ghettos were set up in May 1944 and liquidated by June 1944. Most of the Jews of Carpathian Ruthenia were killed, though a number survived, either because they were hidden by their neighbours, or were forced into labor battalions, which often guaranteed food and shelter.


See German-Russians for information about Carpathian-German (mainly German-speaking Bohemian, Moravian German and Saxon/Low German from middle and eastern Germany) settlement in the 16th to 18th centuries. "to be written"


Czechs in Carpathian Ruthenia are ethnoculturally distinct from other West Slavic groups like the Slovaks, as they originated from Czech-speaking groups from Bohemia and Moravia instead of Slovakia. "to be written"


There are approximately 25,000 ethnic Roma in present-day Carpathian Ruthenia. Some estimates point to a number as high as 50,000 but a true count is hard to obtain as many Roma will claim to be Hungarian or Romanian when interviewed by Ukrainian authorities.

They are by far the poorest and least-represented ethnic group in the region and face intense prejudice. The years since the fall of the USSR have not been kind to the Roma of the region, as they have been particularly hard hit by the economic problems faced by peoples all over the former USSR. Some Roma in western Ukraine live in major cities such as Uzhhorod and Mukachiv, but most live in encampments on the outskirts of cities. These encampments are known as "taberi" and can house up to 300 families. These encampments tend to be fairly primitive with no running water or electricity.

For further information, see


Some 30,000 Romanians live in this region, mostly around the southern towns of Rakhiv (Rahău) and Tiachiv (Teceu) and close to the border with Romania.


Also known as Carpatho-Greeks and Greek-Carpathians."to be written"


Descendants of Armenians whom came and settled in the region in the 15th to 18th centuries. "to be written"

Western views

For urbane European readers in the 19th century, Ruthenia, a forgotten piece of Hungary, was one original of the 19th century's imaginary "Ruritania" the most rural, most rustic and deeply provincial tiny province lost in forested mountains that could be imagined.Fact|date=February 2007 Conceived sometimes as a kingdom of central Europe, Ruritania was the setting of several novels by Anthony Hope, especially "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1894).

Recently Vesna Goldsworthy, in "Inventing Ruritania: the imperialism of the imagination" (1998) has explored the origins of the ideas that underpin Western perceptions of the “Wild East” of Europe, especially of Ruthenian and other rural Slavs in the upper Balkans, but ideas that are highly applicable to Carpathian Ruthenia, all in all "an innocent process: a cultural great power seizes and exploits the resources of an area, while imposing new frontiers on its mind-map and creating ideas which, reflected back, have the ability to reshape reality."

See also

* Black Ruthenia
* Red Ruthenia
* White Ruthenia
* Ruthenia
* Carpatho-Ukraine
* First Vienna Award
* Vienna Awards
* History of Czechoslovakia
* History of Hungary
* Military history of Carpathian Ruthenia during World War II
* Rusyns
* Ruthenians and Ukrainians in Czechoslovakia (1918-1938)
* Oleksandr Dukhnovych
* Ukrainian dialects



* Baerlein, Henri (1938). "In Czechoslovakia's Hinterland", Hutchinson. ISBN B00085K1BA
* Boysak, Basil (1963). "The Fate of the Holy Union in Carpatho-Ukraine", Toronto-New York.
* Fentsik, Stefan A. (1935). "Greetings from the Old Country to all of the American Russian people! (Pozdravlenije iz staroho Kraja vsemu Amerikanskomu Karpatorusskomu Narodu!)". ISBN B0008C9LY6
* Nemec, Frantisek, and Vladimir Moudry (2nd edition, 1980). "The Soviet Seizure of Subcarpathian Ruthenia", Hyperion Press. ISBN 0-8305-0085-5
* Ganzer, Christian (2001). "Die Karpato-Ukraine 1938/39: Spielball im internationalen Interessenkonflikt am Vorabend des Zweiten Weltkrieges." Hamburg ("Die Ostreihe - Neue Folge", Heft 12).
* Kotowski, Albert S. (2001). "Ukrainisches Piemont"? Die Karpartenukraine am Vorabend des Zweiten Weltkrieges", in "Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 49", Heft 1. S. 67-95.
* Krofta, Kamil (1934). "Carpathian Ruthenia and the Czechoslovak Republic". ISBN B0007JY0OG
* Magosci, Paul R. (1975). "The Ruthenian decision to unite with Czechoslovakia", Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. ISBN B0006WVY9I
* Magosci, Paul R. (1978). [ "The Shaping of a National Identity: Subcarpathian Rus’, 1848-1948"] , Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-80579-8
* Magosci, Paul R. [ "The Rusyn-Ukrainians Of Czechoslovakia"]
* Rosokha, Stepan (1949). "Parliament of Carpatho-Ukraine (Coйм Карпатськoї України)", Ukrainian National Publishing Co., Ltd. for Culture and Knowledge (Культура й ocвiтa).
* Shandor, Vincent (1997). "Carpatho-Ukraine in the Twentieth Century: A Political and Legal History", Harvard University Press for the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. ISBN 0-916458-86-5
* Stercho, Peter (1959). "Carpatho-Ukraine in International Affairs: 1938-1939", Notre Dame.
* Subtelny, Orest (3rd edition, 2000). "Ukraine: A History", University of Toronto Press ISBN 0-8020-8390-0
* Wilson, Andrew (2nd edition, 2002). "The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation", Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09309-8.
* Winch, Michael (1973). " Republic for a day: An eye-witness account of the Carpatho-Ukraine incident", University Microfilms. ISBN B0006W7NUW
* Nykolaj Beskyd. “Who Was Aleksander Duchnovyc?” Narodny Novynky. Presov, Slovakia. No. 17. April 28, 1993. Translated by John E. Timo.
* Paul Robert Magocsi. The Carpatho-Rusyns. 1995.
* “Nation Building or Nation Destroying? Lemkos, Poles and Ukrainians in Contemporary Poland.” Polish Review. XXXV 3/4. New York 1990.
* John Slivka. The History of the Greek Rite Gatholics in Pannonia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Podkarpatska Rus 863-1949. 1974.
* Ivan Panjkevic. Українськi Говори Пiдкарпатської Руси i Сумeжних Областeй, Prague. 1938.
* Aleksej L. Petrov. Medieval Carpathian Rus. New York. 1998.

External links

* [ The Carpatho-Rusyn knowledge base]
* [ Paul R. Magocsi, Carpatho-Rusyns, brochure published by The Carpatho-Rusyn Research Center, 1995]
* [ Carpatho-Ukraine] (Encyclopedia of Ukraine)
* [ Diet of Carpatho-Ukraine] (Encyclopedia of Ukraine)
* [ Trans-Carpathia in] (the web library of historical documents & publicism about Malorussia/Ukraine)
* [ Rusyn History in Carpathian Ruthenia]
* [ Villagers reunited by Slovak-Ukraine border crossing] , Reuters, 24 December 2005
* [ Ethnic structure of the population on the present territory of Transcarpathia (1880-1989)]
*/uk icon Mykola Vehesh, "The greatness and the tragedy of Carpathian Ukraine", "Zerkalo Nedeli", 10(485), 13-19 March 2004 [ in Russian] and [ in Ukrainian]
* [ Kárpátinfo]
* [ Carpathian Ruthenia] - photographs and information

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