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Vasil Varonin. Ruthenia, Ruthenians and Ruthenian faith in the works of foreign authors in 1500-50

The lands of Ruthenia played an important role in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, as they accounted for a very large part of its territory. However, local Ruthenians left only a few works which described themselves and their native land. This gives great prominence to the information found in the writings of foreign authors. The article analyses the works of five writers, namely Poles Erazm Ciołek, Jan Łaski, and Maciej Miechowita, Austrian Sigismund von Herberstein, and Michałon Litvin. In spite of the differences in their opinions, they let us have a general picture. The country called Ruthenia was mostly associated with the lands of Ukraine and Muscovy in the early modern period. It was chiefly populated by the Ruthenians, who shared a common religion, language, and historical memory. However, some authors claimed that there were several Ruthenian peoples rather than one. This vision reflected Ruthenia’s division between different states and into a number of regions. Just like in the Middle Ages, the Ruthenians’ ethnic identity in 1500-50 was closely associated with their ‘Ruthenian’ faith.