The readers of previous “Cartographic propaganda” series probably asked why Ukraine was so small on the maps, and why it is so large now? Is the south east of modern Ukraine, which is called “Novorossiya” in Russia now, truly “Ukraine” – after all, it was not labeled as “Ukraine” in mid-19th century?
Historian Kyrylo Halushko will tell us how Ukraine became “so large” in the future series. Today he wrote about the phantom of “Novorossiya” between the 19th and the 21st centuries.
Let’s turn to the first English map in which I found Novorossiya: “Europe divided into its empires, kingdoms, states, republics, &c. By Thos. Kitchin, Hydrographer to the King, with many additions and improvements from the latest surveys and observations of Mr. d'Anville”, London, 1795. It is divided into large pieces, one of which is called “Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea with the coasts of Turky, Anatolia and Barbary”. There’s “New Russia” here (Fig. 1). It occupies the western part of lands that for the previous hundred years were called “Liberties of Zaporizhya Lower Host”, i.e. they belonged to Zaporizhya Cossacks. Their stronghold, the Sich, was demolished by troops of Catherine the 2nd in 1775, but the map still indicates “Zaporiski Cosacks” further to the east.
At that time, the Russian Empire was expanding actively due to the Russo-Turkish wars. Therefore, it treated all newly acquired (very diverse) lands in the same manner as England, which created New England and New Scotland in America, France, which created New France, and Spain, which created New Spain. Nobody cared about locals and their names in imperial capitals. It should be noted that even larger part of the Moscow-propagated “Novorossiya” is called “Little Tartaria” here.
The next map is French, from about 1900; it’s called “the Extension of Russian Power” (Extension de la Puissance Russe): here we see Novorossiya (N-le Russie), marked by dotted line, to the south of Little Russia (Petite Russie), indicating the Novorussian Governorate General (1822-1874). We see that the Governorate differs significantly from the “Novorossiya” of the 1795 English map. Novorossiya changed noticeably (Fig. 2).
Now, let’s turn to the purest source – one from the Russian imperial times, not distant in time from the French map: “Complete Geographic Description of our Motherland” published by the Russian Imperial Geographical Society in 1910, vol. “Novorossiya”. The map of “Tribes of Novorossiya” (Fig. 3) by outstanding geographer, ethnographer and statistician Col. Alexander Rittich of the General Staff, and Ukrainian ethnographer, author of the lyrics of “Ukraine Has Not Yet Died” Ukrainian anthem, Pavlo Chubynsky. That’s a strange combination, but within a purely scientific and respected institution. There, Novorossiya extended from modern Moldova to the Russian Pre-Caucasian region (Don Host Oblast and Stavropol) – Fig. 3.
So, what are Novorossiya’s limits? The name emerged not even during the times of the revolution and civil war in the territory of Ukraine of 1917-1920, when separate “republics” emerged even within the limits of single cities. They started to reinvent “Novorossiya” in 2014.
P.S. The map of “Tribes of Novorossiya” shows Russians living to the south of Dnipro. That was the so-called “Rittich’s mistake”, when the distinguished scholar made a mistake when he counted statistical data of Little Russians (Ukrainians) as Great Russians (Russians). That’s the conclusion made by classic author of Soviet and Russian ethnic demography Vladimir Kabuzan, according to his Russian publications (the most recent dating from 2008). However, “Rittich’s mistake” will wander the European maps for a long time, and we’ll see that in future series.