Letter to the Turkish governor of Khotyn, Ukraine


POLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad

POLONIKA The National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad
Warszawa, Poland

The letter was sent to the Turkish Pasha, the governor residing in Khotyn on the Dniester River. Khotyn, now located within the borders of Ukraine, during the time of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a border fortress in the southeast, passing into Polish, Moldavian and Turkish hands. Ilyas Kolchak Pasha resided there in the 1730s; at the time Khotyn was under Turkish rule, and the Commonwealth bordered the Ottoman Empire.
For political reasons the Pasha – a Turkish high official – maintained numerous contacts also on the Polish side of the border. During this period the relations between the Commonwealth and Turkey were friendly, which was important especially because of the threat from Russia. Thanks to the fact that letters to the Pasha at Khotyn have been preserved, we know that he had about 100 Polish correspondents who kept him informed about the situation in the Commonwealth. The letters that have survived date from between 1730 and 1739, which was a turbulent time of civil war for the Polish throne between supporters of Stanisław Leszczyński and the Russian-backed Augustus II the Strong, and after his death, his son Augustus III. In one of the letters to the Pasha written by the Lublin voivode Jan Tarło we find an account of the coronation ceremony of Augustus III, which took place in Cracow on 17 January 1734.
The surviving correspondence to the Pasha indicates that he was not only a diplomat gathering information about events of political importance, but also had to solve conflicts and problems of everyday life of his subjects, such as disputes over debts or cases of robbery and theft; besides, he engaged in trade on both sides of the border.

In 1739, during the Russo-Turkish War, the Pasha was taken prisoner and exiled deep into Russia, and his documents were looted at that time as well. In unexplained circumstances some of the documents found their way to Chernihiv, and they were recently edited and published by Polish researchers. The bulk of Ilyas Kolchak Pasha's Archive is in Moscow.

Projects of POLONIKA Institute
- 2020 - program RESEARCH - publication of the book "Turecki pasza i szlachta: korespondencja osmańskiego gubernatora Chocimia Iliasza Kołczaka paszy ze szlachtą Rzeczypospolitej z lat 1730-1739" / [The Turkish Pasha and the Noblility: Correspondence between the Ottoman Governor of Khotyn Ilyas Pasha and the Nobility of the Commonwealth from 1730-1739], ed. Mariusz Kaczka, Dariusz Kołodziejczyk


  • Title: Letter to the Turkish governor of Khotyn, Ukraine
  • Date Created: 1730/1739
  • Physical Location: Muzeum Historyczne im. W. Tarnowskiego w Czernihowie
  • Location: Khotyn, Ukraine
  • Publisher: © Narodowy Instytut Polskiego Dziedzictwa Kulturowego za Granicą POLONIKA
  • Rights: public domain

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