History of Zhytomir

Zhytomyr-is one of the oldest cities of Ukraine, the administrative, economic and cultural centre of Zhytomyr region (since 1937), the biggest city of Ukrainian Polesye, located in the centre of Ukraine, at the boundary of forest-steppe, on the abrupt coast of inflow of Dnepro and Kamenki rivers.

The territory, on which the city is located, populated in II millennium BC. Traces of settlements of the bronze epoch, the early Iron Age, burial grounds of VII century, the rests of old Russian ancient settlement of ancient settlement of Х-XIII centuries were found there.

884 year considered the year of Zhytomyr foundation. According the legends, the city received its name under the name of Kiev princes Askold's and Dir's combatant - Zhytomyr which, being christened Christian, refused to serve pagan Oleg Veschy, disappeared on Drevlyan's land and lodged on a rock at the merge of rivers Kamenka and Teterev.

In 945 year, the first antifeudal revolt in Kievan Russia, which flashed on Drevlyan's lands, was brightly described in Ipatevsky annals. Drevlyans opposed unreasonable requisitions of Kiev prince Igor and refused to pay him a tribute after that Drevlyan's land definitively departed to Kievan Russia.

The first mention of Zhytomyr in annals refers to 1240 - in connection of campaign of Baty armies to the West after Kiev defeat. During mongolo-tatar invasion, Zhytomyr was completely ruined and destroyed. Until XVII century, Zhytomyr was suffering from Tatars some more times.

In 1320, Zhytomyr fortress appeared in hands of Lithuanian princes. The same years attacks of nomads became frequent. The local population built defensive constructions with underground courses on which rests builders come across until now.

In 1399 Mongolian armies of khan Edigey, having crushed a team of Lithuanian prince Vitovt, they grasped and plundered Zhytomyr. According to the words of chronicler, «...Without a measure much malicious has done" attack of the Crimean Tatars at 1469.

In 1444, Zhytomyr has acquired the Magdebourg right. The city was gradually growing and building, crafts and trade were developing. The castle was its centre and the largest construction. In 40-th years of XVI century, it was reconstructed and strengthened under the project of local architect Semyon Babinsky. The defensive ditch filled with water surrounded its thick fortifications.

В1482 the city was destroyed by a horde of khan Mengli-Girey.

In 1559, Zhytomyr became a district city with a «privilege on district parliament». Polish historian Pavel Klekpatsky confirms, that it was the period of Zhytomyr city blossoming. The city conducted brisk trade with cities of Lithuania and Poland and even with more remote cities.

After Lublin union of 1569, which broke the unity of orthodox Old Russian people, Zhytomyr was under the yoke of the powerful European state - Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, szlachta Poland. Soon the city became the centre of starostvo, which was the part of Kiev voivodship. However, simultaneously it was the property of separate Polish magnates.

In 1571, there were wooden houses in the city, in comparison with the Lithuanian period the quantity of the population decreased. Historian M. Grushevsky based on examining of annalistic documents of 16 centuries came to conclusion, that during that period in Zhytomyr, there was a decline of trade and the transport stream through a city decreased. Some historians assume that it was connected with population migration in Zaporozhian Host. Thus, the orthodox population rescued from oppression of Polish-Catholic magnates and implanting of European values. Zhytomyr orthodox poor actively participated in Cossack-peasant revolts of the end of 16 - beginning of 17 centuries.

After the Andrusovsky armistice of 1667, Zhytomyr remained as a part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Poland returned to Moscow state Smolensk and Chernigov lands, the Old Russian Kiev city, recognized reunion with the Moscow state of Cherkashchina.

Having lost the main administrative centre of Kiev voivodship, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth made Zhytomyr the main city of simultaneously two districts - Kiev and Zhytomyr. This historical event defined city development as important administrative centre.

Since 1668 according to Grzhimulotovsky treatise Zhytomyr was actually the centre of Kiev voivodship. There voivodship parliament of Polish szlachta were holding. By constitution of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1724, Kiev district was attached to Zhytomyr. Same year Catholic diocese was transferred to Zhytomyr, the monastery of a Jesuit award and collegiums with own school was founded. Catholic influence amplifies the orthodox population.

On Zamkovaya square in 1746, the majestic Catholic cathedral of St. Sofia was erected. It is one of the most ancient monuments of architecture in Zhytomyr.

In 1768 in Zhytomyr, the court session took place over participants of orthodox national- liberation movement to which some time later Таras Shevchenko devoted a poem «Gaidamaky». The Polish authority in the village Kodnya executed 3 thousand people.

By constitution of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of 1775 Zhytomyr among capitals of the Polish crown was recognized the first one after Krakov and received senatorial advantage. The civil and military government operated in the city.

Falling of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1793 marked restoration of historical unity of orthodox Russia: Right-bank Russia reunited with Russia, Zhytomyr reunited with Russia, was called then as Russian empire and in 1804 under the decree of the imperial government, it was officially confirmed an administrative centre of Volynsk province. The small Ukrainian city at various times was a place of stay of outstanding figures of national history. In 1802 - 1809 the great Russian commander M.Kutuzov many times came to Zhytomyr. Since September, 1811 there lived P.I.Bagration , who was commanding Podolsk and then 2-nd Western army. Well- known poet Denis Davidov - the organizer of guerrilla movement in war with Napoleon's armies was subsequently the courier for special commissions at the army staff.

In the beginning of XIX century educational and cultural establishments started to operate: man's grammar school, four-class district school, later finishing school, library, theatre on which such actors as M.Schepkin, V.Davidov, G.Fedotova and composer A.Rubinshteyn acted.

Serfdom cancellation, development of capitalist relations promoted transformation of Zhytomyr into industrially - shopping centre. In 1896 the narrow-gauge railway Zhytomyr - Berdichev was built, and during the First World War the broad gauge connected Zhytomyr with Berdichev and Korosten'.

Zhytomyr, as well as the majority of all Ukrainian cities, suffered from events of revolutionary 1917 year. The power in the city changed thirteen times during that period.

After the civil war, mass building and city reconstruction began. The Volynsk iron-works and mechanical factory "Sel'mash" which were organized in due course in machine building, and later in motor-repair factory was created.

New enterprises: factories of musical instruments, hosiery factory, paint factory, grinding factory began an output, the furniture combine, brick-works, confectionery and macaroni factories ha been reconstructed. Movement of trains, connecting Zhytomyr with Korosten' and Berdichev was restored, and in 1935 trains on the line of Zhytomyr-Fastov which connected Zhytomyr with Kiev went.

On the eve of the Great Patriotic War in Zhytomyr, there were 62 enterprises, 29 medical institutions operated in the city. The theatre, a philharmonic hall, a palace of pioneers, 3 cinemas, 4 clubs, a museum worked there.

Poet A.Bezymensky, playwright I.Kocherga, composers V.Kosenko, B.Lyatoshinsky, M.Skorulsky, the director V.Magar, the specialist in folklore and the chorus master M.Gaiday and others were active explorers of a cultural revolution on the Zhytomyr lands. Zhytomyr became the large industrial and cultural centre.

On 22 of June, 1941 during the first hours of wars the city was subjected to bombardment of Hitlerite aircraft. On July 9, fascists rushed into Zhytomyr. After city occupation, rainy days began. Active operations in the beginning of 1942 conducted about twenty underground groups together with guerrilla groups. In December, 1943 the city was released. During 1957-1990 tens industrial, transport, building, engineering objects were constructed in the city. Among them: flax processing business, factories of a chemical fibre, automatic machines, "Promavtomatika", "Jelektroizmeritel'", structural steel, a meatpacking plant, factory of laboratory glass, etc. Number occupied in industrial production only for 1968-1976 increased in twice. In the city new higher, average special, research design organizations appeared; culture, sports, tourism establishments received development.

As a result, the population of Zhytomyr for the last thirty years (1959-1989) increased from 105 to 300 thousand people.

Under the editorship of: V.A. Kovalenin

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