“New Russia” revisited

In 2014 and 2016, I wrote several posts about Novorossiya (or Novorossia, or simply New Russia) as a historical term denoting certain areas to the north, northeast, and east of the Black Sea, as opposed to a latter-day political label. There is a decent, if approximate and unsourced, map of the region on Radio Liberty’s site. Here’s a summary of these posts, in achronological order:

  • In the original Novorossiya, early settlement was rural and largely (but not exclusively) Ukrainian. When cities started growing there thanks to migration, Ukrainians were a minority among the new urban dwellers, and these multi-ethnic cities were largely Russophone. Despite the fast urbanization, Ukraine had remained overwhelmingly rural by 1917, giving Ukrainians an overall population majority.
  • The Russian port city of Novorossiysk was so named in 1839 (it was little more than a military fort then) owing to its location. Although founded outside the original Novorossiya in the 18th-century sense of the term, it was part of the extended Novorossiya as commonly understood by the early 20th century. The Ukrainian city now officially known as Dnipro was called Novorossiysk in 1797-1802.
  • Kharkiv (Kharkov), Ukraine’s second-largest city, is part of the so-called Sloboda Ukraine rather than Novorossiya. Originally settled by Ukrainian Cossacks, this area was part of the Russian/Muscovite state’s southwestern frontier from the late 16th until the late 18th century.

My principal sources for these notes were studies and reviews by Dmitry Bagaley (Dmytro Bahaliy, 1857-1932), Vladimir Kabuzan (1932-2008), and Sergei Belyakov (b. 1976). What is missing from my old posts is a bigger picture of East Slavic expansion and colonization in Eurasia from the perspective of historical geography. To this end, I’m going to rely on the relatively recent work by Dr. Denis J. B. Shaw of Birmingham University.

(To be continued – with Christmas greetings.)

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