Over there are already Lyakhy


   From the very beginnings of Christianity, the Poles belonged to the western World, whereas the Rusyns (Lemkos) gravitated to the Byzantine East. For many centuries, no one disputed this fact, so obvious were the differences between the two cultures. The Poles called us "Rusyns" (the term "Lemkos" originated in the 19th century), and we referred to them as Poles, or "Lyakhs" (their own ancient national name). People from Lemko villages in the border area, which were entirely Rusyn, while pointing west said "and there already are Lyakhy". Similarly, the Poles, pointing east, affirmed - "over there are already Rusyns". Dating back to the times of rule by princes, both the eastern and western parts of Lemkivshchyna were entirely Rusyn. The names of the villages attest to this: Ropitsya Rus'ka, Bilyanka, Bil'tsareva, Bohusha, Koroleva Rus'ka.

   Behind Krinitsya's Yavorina ridge flows a well known small river named Poprad, which was considered to be a natural boundary between these two peoples. For a long time the Poprad was the border betweenRus' and Poland. Here is a folk legend, as recounted by an old Lemko: "Long, long ago, during the reign of the prince of Kyivian Rus', Hotlytsi, Hrybiv, Novyj Sanch and the surrounding villages were Rusyn... Chorshtyn at the foot of the Tatra Mountains was the further most western outpost of Kyiv Rus' ..."

   In 992 Lemkivshchyna was annexed to Kyivian Rus'. This historic act promoted development of knowledge and culture within the western Carpathian Mountains.

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Copyright © 1997 Jon W. Madzelan
This Home Page was created on Sunday, June 15, 1997
Most recent revision Sunday, May 17, 1998