Project “16 Days of Gratitude”: day 8
Day 8. Battle of Olshanitsa by Prince Konstantin Ostrozhsky.
Well, the street of Ostrozhskih Princes turned out to be so long that it took us far beyond Kyiv to the village of Mala Vilshanka, where in January 1527, one of the greatest victories of the joint Russian-Lithuanian army under the leadership of the great hetman Konstantin Ostrozhsky over the Tatars took place. Despite all the diplomatic agreements that Crimean Tatars would not invade the lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, border protection was still strengthened, and for good reason. In the autumn of 1526, the Tatar army, continuing its campaign, invaded Ukrainian lands and reached Polesia. On their way back, the Tatars met with the army of Prince Konstantin Ostrozhsky, who had the support of Lithuanian-Ukrainian forces, which included 5,000 soldiers of the Lithuanian hetman Yury Radziwill (“Hercules”). The encounter happened on the morning of January 27, 1527 in the upper reaches of the Vilshanka (Olshanytsia) river – the Tatars did not even have time to saddle the horses. The battle continued the next day, January 28. Having implemented a good strategy in the battle, Konstantin Ostrozhsky completely defeated the 20-30 thousand Tatar army (contemporaries give different figures), and freed 40-80 thousand prisoners from captivity. After this victory, a real Roman triumph awaited Ostrozhsky in Krakow, and he himself was then called “summus cum Tataris belli gerendi imperator” (“supreme commander of the war with the Tatars”). However, this was the last victory in the biography of the outstanding commander, which had great European significance. From then on, France and Hungary often turned to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, to the Lithuanian Hetman Konstantin Ostrozhsky himself and his successor Yuri Radziwill for military help. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania demonstrated its ability to cope with a significant hostile invasion without foreign aid, even without mobilizing all its military resources. In honor of this event, on October 14, 2008, a memorial sign was erected in the village of Mala Vilshanka near Kyiv. The inscription on it indicated: “This memorial sign was installed on October 14, 2008 in honor of the first hetman of the Lithuanian-Russian principality, an outstanding warrior, politician, patron of the Orthodox faith of Ostrozhski Konstantin Ivanovich 1470-1532. He defeated the horde on the Olshanitsy River near today’s Mala Vilshanka, destroyed 34 thousand Tatars and freed 80 thousand captives from captivity.”
P.S. The photos you see here were taken by the author in August 2021 and February 4, 2022. The last photo, unfortunately, shows the consequences of the current war with Russia and what happened to the monument. Hopefully, the commemorative table has survived and will soon be restored.
Dr. Ruslana Martseniuk
Photos by dr. Ruslana Martseniuk