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Supreme Ruthenian Council

The representative body of the Ukrainians of Galicia during the revolution of 1848 was the Supreme Ruthenian Council (SRC; Holova ru'ka rada). ("Ruthenian" was the name usually used at that time to designate the Ukrainian population of the Habsburg monarchy). More than 300 Ukrainians assembled in the chancery of St. George's cathedral in Lviv (Lemberg) on 2 May 1848 to establish the SRC as a counterweight to the Poles' National Council (Rada Narodowa).

After some organizational evolution, the SRC consisted of 66 members. Although the secular intelligentsia formed the majority of the membership, 19 clergymen and 10 theology students also joined and prominent clergymen occupied important positions in the executive. The presidents of the SRC were 13 district councils and subordinated to these were about 50 deanery councils; the plan to establish village councils did not come to fruition.

The SRC published as its organ the first newspaper ever to appear in the Ukrainian language, Zoria halytska; the first issue appeared on May 15, 1848. The SRC also issued hundreds of proclamations, including some in German addressed to a wider public. It sent delegates to the Prague Slav Congress (June 1848) and ran candidates in the elections to the AustrianReichstag (also June 1848). It organized a Ukrainian national guard (fall 1848) and also a volunteer riflemen's battalion (winter 1849) to combat Hungarian insurgents.

The SRC saw its chief purpose to be the defense of the Ukrainian nationality against the Poles, who cohabited Galicia and formed the overwhelming majority of noble landowners in the region. The SRC sought protection in the imperial court, to which it maintained an unwavering loyalty; eventually the SRC ended up firmly in the camp of the Austrian reaction. With regard to the question of national identity, which was to become a contentious issue after the revolution, the SRC considered the Ukrainians of Galicia to be a nation distinct from the Poles as well as the Russians and the same as the Ukrainian nation in the Russian empire (Little Russia). The SRC's principle political goal was the division of Galicia into two separate provinces: Western Galicia, comprising the ethnically Polish territory near Cracow, and Eastern Galicia, with its capital in Lviv, incorporating the territory where Ukrainians formed the majority of the population. In Eastern Galicia, Ukrainian would become the language of education and administration. The SRC was unable to achieve the partition of Galicia, however. On the agrarian question, which was of vital interest to a nation composed overwhelmingly of peasants, the SRC stopped short of advocating abolition of feudal rents without compensation to the landlords, but it did support the peasantry in its struggle to maintain rights to forests and pastures ("servitudes") and in its insistence that the land survey of 1786 be decisive in delineating manorial and peasant property.

The SRC continued its existence into the early 1850s.

John-Paul Himka


Bohachevsky-Chomiak, Martha. The Spring of a Nation: The Ukrainians in Eastern Galicia in 1848. Philadelphia: Shevchenko Scientific Society, 1967.

Kozik, Jan. The Ukrainian National Movement in Galicia: 1815-1849. iEdmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1986.

Vozniak, Mykhailo. Iak probudylosia ukrains'ke narodne zhyttia v Halychyni za Avstri. Biblioteka "Novoho chasu," 1. :Lviv" z drukarni Vydavnychoi spilky "Dilo," 1924.

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