Говоримо англійською - 40 розмовних тем - Л. П. Ільєнко 1997

Some facts from the history of Ukraine

New words and word-combinations to be remembered:

invasion навала

successor спадкоємець

scion нащадок

independence незалежність

treaty договір

to besiege оточувати

inspite of незважаючи на

suppression пригнічення

magnificent чудовий

creation творіння

Ukraine gained independence in 1991. Her history that stretches back in time hundreds of years was a turbulent one. Now Ukraine wants to become a truly democratic and well-developed state.

The first state to spring up within the boundaries of the present-day Ukraine was Kyiv Rus’ (9th century). In fact, Kyiv Grand Princes ruled over vast territories stretching from the Black Sea in the south to the Baltic Sea in the north, from the Carpathian Mountains in the west to the Volga River in the east. Grand Prince Volodymyr was converted to Christianity and then he made it the official religion of his country under his successor.

Under Volodymyr’s successor, Yaroslav the Wise (1019-1054), Kyiv Rus’ rose to the peak of its development becoming one of the major political powers in Europe. Through series of well-planned marriages of his sons and daughters to scions of the royal families of Europe (France, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Germany and Byzantium) the Grand Prince (Yaroslav himself was married to a Swedish princess) brought his country into European affairs.

Kyiv, as the capital of Kyiv Rus’, was one of the richest cities of Europe where the arts flourished. Magnificent churches and monasteries were built, and choral music to be sung in these churches was composed.. Unfortunately, only a few of the monuments from the glorious past have survived but luckily among them are the great architectural creations of the eleventh and twelfth centuries: St. Sophia’s Cathedral, the Golden Gate of Kyiv, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Monastery.

Civilizations arise, flourish and decline. It was the fate of Kyiv Rus’ too. The end of the twelfth century saw the decline of the Kyiv State which broke up into a number of principalities, Feudal strife accompanied the process of disintegration and the devastating Mongol invasion in the 13th century delivered a mortal blow to Kyiv Rush.

The new Ukraine began to rise again at the end of the fifteenth century, but the road to independence was a long and torturous one. In the late 16th — early 17th centuries the Cossack Republic of Zaporizhya Sich fiercely fought for independence against the Poles and the Crimean Tatars. In 1648— 1654 the Cossack armies, headed by military leader Hetman Bohdan Khmeinytsky, waged wars to liberate Ukraine. Besieged by the enemies on all sides, Bohdan Khmeinytsky was forced to turn for protection to the Russian Tsar and the treaty signed at the town of Pereyaslav formalized Russian-Ukrainian relations.

The Russian Empire puts its heavy boot on Ukraine but in spite of the domineering pressure Ukraine managed to preserve some of her political, economic, cultural and religious heritage. Kyiv Mohyla Academy founded by the Metropolitan Petro Mohyla in the 17th century became the first school of higher learning in Eastern Europe. There were books published in Ukraine, philosophy studied, the arts, music and literature created. There was even a constitution written in 1711.

But it was two centuries later, in January of 1918, that Ukraine gained independence, only to lose it shortly afterwards. The first President of the Ukrainian Republic Mykhailo Hrushevsky became the bitter witness of the rise and fall of independent Ukraine. Nevertheless the lust for freedom lived through the dark years of suppression, famines and wars. In 1991 Ukraine became a sovereign state and joined the world community of independent countries.

Answer the following questions:

1. What state was set up within the boundaries of the present-day Ukraine in the 9th century?

2. When did Kyiv Rus’ rise to the peak of its development?

3. What did the end of the twelfth century see?

4. Who headed the liberation war of the Ukrainian people against the Poles?

5. How long did the Ukrainian people fight for independence?

6. When did Ukraine gain its independence?

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