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Galicia (Central Europe)

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Galicia (Central Europe)

Galicia (Ukrainian: Галичина, Halychyna; Polish: Galicja; Czech: Halič; German: Galizien; Hungarian: Galícia/Kaliz/Gácsország/Halics; Romanian: Galiția/Halici; Russian: Галиция/Галичина, Galitsiya/Galichina; Rusyn: Галичина, Halychyna; Slovak: Halič; Yiddish: גאַליציע, Galytsye) is a historical and geographic region in Eastern Europe,[1][2][3] once a small kingdom, that currently straddles the border between Poland and Ukraine. The area, which is named after the medieval city of Halych, was first mentioned in Hungarian historic chronicles in the year 1206 as Galiciæ.

The nucleus of Galicia lies within the modern regions of western Ukraine: Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk near the contemporary Ukrainian city of Halych. In the 18th century, territories that later became part of the modern Polish regions of Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Subcarpathian Voivodeship and Silesian Voivodeship were added to Galicia. There is considerable overlap between Galicia and south-west Ruthenia (Rusyn: Русь Rus' ; Ukrainian: Русь Rus' ; Slovakian: Rus), especially a cross-border region (centred on Zakarpattia Oblast, the Transcarpathian Region of present-day Ukraine) that is inhabited by various nationalities, including the Rusyn minority. In this modern sense, "Ruthenia" straddles western Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia.

Origins and variations of the name

Map of the Principality of Halych in the 13th century, which formed the nucleus of what was later Galicia

In the 13th century, King Andrew II of Hungary used the style Galicia et Lodomeria - a Latinized version of the Slavic names Halych and Volodymyr, the major cities of the principality of Halych-Volhynia, which the Hungarians ruled from 1214 to 1221. Halych-Volhynia cut a swathe as a mighty principality under the reign of Roman the Great in 1170–1205. After the expulsion of the Hungarians in 1221, Ruthenians took back rule of the area. Roman's son Daniel of Galicia was crowned king of Halych-Volhynia. He founded Lviv (Leopolis), named in honour of his son Leo I, who later moved the capital from Halych to Lviv.

The Ukrainian name Halych (Галич) (Halicz in Polish, Галич in Russian, Galic in Latin) comes from the Khwalis or Kaliz who occupied the area from the time of the Magyars. They were also called Khalisioi in Greek, and Khvalis (Хваліс) in Ukrainian. Some historians speculated it had to do with a group of people of Celtic origin that may have settled nearby, being related to many similar place names found across Europe and Asia Minor, such as ancient Gallia or Gaul (modern France, Belgium, and northern Italy) and Galatia (modern Turkey), the Iberian Peninsula's Galicia, and Romanian Galaţi. Others assert that the name has Slavic origins – from halytsa (galitsa), meaning "a naked (unwooded) hill", or from halka (galka) which means "a jackdaw". The jackdaw was used as a charge in the city's coat of arms and later also in the coat of arms of Galicia. The name, however, predates the coat of arms, which may represent canting or simply folk etymology.

Although the Hungarians were driven out from Halych-Volhynia by 1221, Hungarian kings continued to add Galicia et Lodomeria to their official titles. In 1527, the Habsburgs inherited those titles, together with the Hungarian crown. In 1772, Empress Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary, decided to use those historical claims to justify her participation in the first partition of Poland. In fact, the territories acquired by Austria did not correspond exactly to those of former Halych-Volhynia. Volhynia, including the city of Volodymyr-Volynskyi (Włodzimierz Wołyński) – after which Lodomeria was named – was taken by Russia, not Austria. On the other hand, much of Lesser PolandNowy Sącz and Przemyśl (1772–1918), Zamość (1772–1809), Lublin (1795–1809), Kraków (1846–1918) – did become part of Austrian Galicia. Moreover, despite the fact that the claim derived from the historical Hungarian crown, Galicia and Lodomeria was not officially assigned to Hungary, and after the Ausgleich of 1867, it found itself in Cisleithania, or the Austrian-administered part of Austria-Hungary.

The full official name of the new Austrian province was Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria with the Duchies of Auschwitz and Zator. After the incorporation of the Free City of Kraków in 1846, it was extended to Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, and the Grand Duchy of Kraków with the Duchies of Auschwitz and Zator (German: Königreich Galizien und Lodomerien mit dem Großherzogtum Krakau und den Herzogtümern Auschwitz und Zator).

Each of those entities was formally separate; they were listed as such in the Austrian emperor's titles, each had its distinct coat-of-arms and flag. For administrative purposes, however, they formed a single province. The duchies of Auschwitz (Oświęcim) and Zator were small historical principalities west of Kraków, on the border with Prussian Silesia. Lodomeria, under the name Volhynia, was not ruled by Austria but by the Russian Empire.

Ethnographic group of Galicia


The legislative Sejm of the Land was located in the capital city, Lviv

The territory was settled by the East Slavs in the early middle ages, and in the 12th century a Rurikid Principality of Halych (Halicz, Halics, Galich, Galic) formed there, which merged in the end of the century with the neighboring Volhynia into the Principality of Halych Volhynia, that existed for a century and a half under Hungarian rule. In 1352 when the principality was divided between the Polish Kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the territory became subject to the Polish Crown. With the Union of Lublin in 1569 Poland and Lithuania merged to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which lasted for 200 years until conquered and divided up by Russia, Prussia, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Upon the partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, the south-eastern part of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was awarded to the Habsburg Empress Maria-Theresa, whose bureaucrats christened it the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, after one of the titles of the princes of Hungary, although its borders coincided but roughly with those of the former medieval principality.[5] Known informally as Galicia, it became the largest, most populous, and northernmost province of the Austrian Empire until the dissolution of that monarchy at the end of World War I in 1918, when it ceased to exist as a geographic entity.


Peasants and Jews from Galicia, c. 1886

In 1773, Galicia had about 2.6 million inhabitants in 280 cities and market towns and approximately 5,500 villages. There were nearly 19,000 noble families, with 95,000 members (about 3% of the population). The serfs accounted for 1.86 million, more than 70% of the population. A small number were full-time farmers, but by far the overwhelming number (84%) had only smallholdings or no possessions.

Galicia had arguably the most ethnically diverse population of all the countries in the Austrian monarchy, consisting of Poles, Ukrainians (whom the Austrian authorities described as Ruthenians[6]), Jews, Germans, Armenians, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Roma, etc. In Galicia as a whole, the population in 1910 was estimated to be 45.4% Polish, 42.9% Ukrainian, 10.9% Jewish, and .8% German.[7] This population was not evenly distributed. The Poles lived mainly in the west, with the Ukrainians predominant in the eastern region ("Ruthenia"). At the turn of the twentieth century, Poles constituted 78.7% of the whole population of Western Galicia, Ukrainians 13.2%, Jews 7.6%, Germans 0.3%, and others 0.2%. The respective data for Eastern Galicia show the following numbers: Ukrainians 64.5%, Poles 21.0%, Jews 13.7%, Germans 0.3%, and others 0.5%.[8][9] Of the 44 administrative divisions of Austrian eastern Galicia, Lviv (Polish: Lwów, German: Lemberg) was the only one in which Poles made up a majority of the population[10]

Linguistically, the Polish language was predominant in Galicia. According to the 1910 census 58.6% of the combined population of both western and eastern Galicia spoke Polish as its mother tongue compared to 40.2% who spoke the Ukrainian language. [11] The number of Polish-speakers may have been inflated because Jews were not given the option of listing Yiddish as their language. [12]

The Jews of Galicia had immigrated in the Middle Ages from Germany. German-speaking people were more commonly referred to by the region of Germany where they originated (such as Saxony or Swabia). For inhabitants who spoke different native languages, e.g. Poles and Ruthenians, identification was less problematic, but widespread multilingualness blurred the borders again.

It is, however, possible to make a clear distinction in religious denominations: Poles were Roman Catholic, the Ruthenians belonged to the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church (now split into several sui juris Catholic churches, the largest of which is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church). The Jews represented the third largest religious group. Galicia was the center of the branch of Orthodox Judaism known as Hasidism.


The new state borders had cut Galicia off from many of its traditional trade routes and markets of the Polish sphere, resulting in stagnation of economic life and decline of Galician towns. Lviv lost its status as a significant trade center. After a short period of limited investments, the Austrian government started a fiscal exploitation of Galicia and drained the region of manpower through conscription to imperial army. The Austrians decided that Galicia should not develop industrially but remain an agricultural area that would serve as a supplier of food products and raw materials to other Habsburg provinces. New taxes were instituted, investments were discouraged, and cities and towns were neglected.[13][14][15] The result was significant poverty in Austrian Galicia.[16][17] Galicia was the poorest province of Austro-Hungary,[18] [19] and according to Norman Davies, could be considered "the poorest province in Europe".[17]

See also



  1. ^ Eleonora Narvselius (April 5, 2012). Narratives about (Be)longing, Ambiguity, and Cultural Colonization (Google eBook). Ukrainian Intelligentsia in Post-Soviet L'viv: Narratives, Identity, and Power (Lexington Books). p. 293. ISBN . Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Larry Wolff (January 9, 2012). Mythology and Nostalgia: A Matter of Simple Relativity (Google eBook). The Idea of Galicia: History and Fantasy in Habsburg Political Culture (Stanford University Press). p. 411. ISBN . Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Paul R. Magocsi (2002). Jews and Armenians in Central Europe, ca. 1900 (Google Books). Historical Atlas of Central Europe (University of Toronto Press). p. 124. ISBN . Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  4. ^ SGKP tom II. str. 459
  5. ^ Larry Wolff, The Idea of Galicia: History and Fantasy in Habsburg Political Culture (Sanford University Press, 2012), p. 1
  6. ^ Magocsi, Paul R. (2002). The Roots of Ukrainian Nationalism: Galicia as Ukraine's Piedmont. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 57. 
  7. ^ Paul Robert Magocsi. (1996). A History of Ukrane. Toronto: University ofToronto Press. Pg. 424.
  8. ^ Piotr Eberhardt. Ethnic groups and population changes in twentieth-century Central-Eastern Europe: history, data, analysis. M.E. Sharpe, 2003. pp.92–93. ISBN 978-0-7656-0665-5
  9. ^ Timothy Snyder. (2003). The Reconstruction of Nations. New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 123
  10. ^ Timothy Snyder. (2003). The Reconstruction of Nations. New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 134
  11. ^ Anstalt G. Freytag & Berndt (1911). Geographischer Atlas zur Vaterlandskunde an der österreichischen Mittelschulen. Vienna: K. u. k. Hof-Kartographische. "Census December 31st 1910"
  12. ^ Timothy Snyder. (2003).The Reconstruction of Nations. New Haven: Yale University Press, pg. 134
  13. ^ P. R. Magocsi. (1983). Galicia: A Historical Survey and Bibliographic Guide. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies,Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. p. 99
  14. ^ P. Wandycz. (1974). The lands of partitioned Poland, 1795-1918. A History of East Central Europe. University of Washington Press. p. 12
  15. ^ K. Stauter-Halsted. (2005). The Nation In The Village: The Genesis Of Peasant National Identity In Austrian Poland, 1848-1914. Cornell University Press. p. 24
  16. ^ Keely Stauter-Halsted (28 February 2005). The Nation In The Village: The Genesis Of Peasant National Identity In Austrian Poland, 1848-1914. Cornell University Press. p. 26. ISBN . Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Norman Davies (31 May 2001). Heart of Europe:The Past in Poland's Present. Oxford University Press. pp. 331–. ISBN . Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  18. ^ Richard Sylla, Gianni Toniolo. (2002). Patterns of European Industrialisation: The Nineteenth Century. pg. 230. Conversion from 1970 to 2010 dollars here
  19. ^ Israel Bartal; Antony Polonsky (1999). Focusing on Galicia: Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians, 1772-1918. Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. p. 19. ISBN . Retrieved 8 April 2013. Galician poverty became proverbial in the second half of the nineteenth century 


  • Dohrn, Verena. Journey to Galicia, (S. Fischer, 1991), ISBN 3-10-015310-3
  • Frank, Alison Fleig. Oil Empire: Visions of Prosperity in Austrian Galicia (Harvard University Press, 2005). A new monograph on the history of the Galician oil industry in both the Austrian and European contexts.
  • Christopher Hann and Paul Robert Magocsi, eds., Galicia: A Multicultured Land (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005). A collection of articles by John Paul Himka, Yaroslav Hrytsak, Stanislaw Stepien, and others.
  • Paul Robert Magocsi, Galicia: A Historical Survey and Bibliographic Guide (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983). Concentrates on the historical, or Eastern Galicia.
  • Andrei S. Markovits and Frank E. Sysyn, eds., Nationbuilding and the Politics of Nationalism: Essays on Austrian Galicia (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982). Contains an important article by Piotr Wandycz on the Poles, and an equally important article by Ivan L. Rudnytsky on the Ukrainians.
  • A.J.P. Taylor, The Habsburg Monarchy 1809–1918, 1941, discusses Habsburg policy toward ethnic minorities.
  • Wolff, Larry. The Idea of Galicia: History and Fantasy in Habsburg Political Culture (Stanford University Press; 2010) 504 pages. Examines the role in history and cultural imagination of a province created by the 1772 partition of Poland that later disappeared, in official terms, in 1918.
  • (Polish) Grzegorz Hryciuk, Liczba i skład etniczny ludności tzw. Galicji Wschodniej w latach 1931–1959, [Number and Ethnic Composition of the People of so-called Eastern Galicia 1931–1959] Lublin 1996

External links

  • Jewish Encyclopedia

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