Chernovtsy. Historical background of Bukovina

From the beginning of the Princely period of government in Kyiv Rus, the territory of Bukovina was included into Rus and was occupied by the tribes of Slavs-Tiberias

In the 12th century after the division of Kyiv Rus into princedoms, it was the suburb of the Galician princedom and an important defensive line protecting the south-eastern frontiers of Rus.

After the decay of the Galicia-Volhynia State in 1340 on the former Ukrainian territory, between the Carpathians and the Dniester River, developed a new political unit – Moldavia. From the middle of the 14th century, Bukovina was a part of it.


To this period of time belongs the first written record of Chernovtsy (Chernivtsi).  At the turn of the 14th -15th century on one of the roads which led from Lviv via Suchava to Constantinople, on the high right bank of the river Prut a settlement of Chernovtsy (Chernivtsi) was mentioned.

The first written record of the city is connected with the development of the transit trade with Poland. In the diploma of Moldavian ruler Aleksandr Dobryi to the merchants of Lviv dated back to the eighth of October 1408, Chernovtsy city is labeled as a spot where the duty for goods, exported to Poland, was paid.

From the diplomas of those years, we found out that trade routes led from Lviv via Chernovtsy and Suceava in the direction of the Black Sea ports.

The development of the trade routes between the Kingdom of Poland and Prychornomoria was favorable to a gradual growth of Chernovtsy from a customs station to the level of an urban commercial centre.

However, constant frontier collisions between Poland and Moldavia and Polish-Ottoman military confrontation prevented the city from its subsequent development to an important commercial and industrial centre.

Starting from 1514 and during 260 years Moldavia (Bukovina included) was admitting the supremacy of Turkey.

Due to the new circumstances during the whole Turkish period, Moldavian State fell into decay. Constant tribute paid to Turks, taxes, which encumbered the population and merchants made foreigners avoid visiting Moldavia. Trade and land ownership dropped down and people became poor. Began the period of social ruin. Apart from this, there were attacks from the neighboring states which robbed and burnt the cities and villages of Moldavia in exchange for the wars that Turkey led having Moldavian units as a part of its army.

In the second part of the 18th century, there were considerable changes in the balance of political powers in the East of Europe. As a result of the Turkish-Russian war (1768 - 1774), the territory of Bukovina went to Austria, an ally of Russia.

In 1774 on the territory of Bukovina began the Austrian period of history which is considered to be “the golden age” of Chernovtsy.


The transition from the Turkish-Balkan to the West-European sphere of cultural influences stimulated the growth of the population of the city. Developed trade, stone buildings were built, educational, scientific and cultural establishments were open, transport system and the communal services of the city were developed.

During a short period of time, a quite successful transformation of the city environment took place. It grew from a hardly noticeable place to a city, which was admitted the eastern outpost of the European culture of that time. The citizens were attracted to the life of the central European country and through it directly to the European and world culture of that time.


In the second half of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century Chernovtsy transformed into a central European city with a typical infrastructure, style and standards of urban life.

The result of the First World War was a collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In 1918, the territory of Bukovina was a part of Romania. In 1940 as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the Soviet Power settled on the territory of the city. The Chernovtsy region became one of the last regions which marked the final stage of the territorial formation of the USSR.


After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the territory became a part of Ukraine, an independent state, and a new stage of its history began.