Home / GOLDEN MAZEPS. HISTORY FROM Olesya BUZINA. Part 1 and Part 2

... GOLDEN MAZEPS. HISTORY FROM Olesya BUZINA. Part 1 and Part 2 ...

Hetman Mazeppa was dying like a hero in a pirate novel: he was surrounded by stolen barrels of gold and bags of diamonds. This was the entire state Treasury of Ukraine, which he managed to embezzle and take away from Poltava to Bendery - a Moldavian town that was then on Turkish territory.

The Swedish state archive has preserved a report of the unforgettable sight of the fugitive Hetman on his deathbed. “When I went to see him”, writes Gustav Soldan, Charles XII’s confidant, “I found him very weak… He asked me to stay with him and carefully watch over his belongings, which were in his room, namely, a chest and two barrels full of ducats, and a couple of travel bags, which contained all his jewelry and a large number of gold medals. Travel bags were under his head, and barrels of his ducats were next to his bed. He also asked me not to let any of his people take anything out of his room”.

DEATH IN THE CHESTS. This document was first published in 1903 in the journal “Kievan Past” by the historian Nikandr Molchanovsky; he is the author of many studies on the Ukrainian past. His find is well known to specialists, but it is hidden from the general reader, since it shows Mazeppa notorious. According to the report of a Swedish eyewitness, even when dying, the Hetman is most concerned about the safety of his wealth — the most beloved part of Ukraine, expressed in chervonets, which he managed to take away from emigration. In addition, he does not trust even his companions — the “noble followers of Mazepa” who make up his inner circle and “greedy crowd”, in the immortal expression of Lermontov, waiting for the death of their “ataman” to “fairly” divide his wealth.

Who does it remind you of? Of course, all the same pirates with whom Western European eyewitnesses have repeatedly compared the habits of the Cossacks! The only soul that Mazeppa still trusted was his nephew, Andrey Voynarovsky — a very young man and the only heir to the Hetman, who had no direct descendants. He was sitting in the same house in the next room. The envoy of Charles XII, leaving Mazepa, told Voynarovsky that he had orders from the king to look after the Hetman and his belongings, which, according to him, the nephew "was pleased". Andrey was not popular among Mazepa’s confidants and could only rely on the protection of the Swedish King, whose court and the remnants of the guard were right there in Bendery.

Mazeppa’s concern for his treasures is also psychologically explained by the fact that, like any other person, he did not intend to die and did not consider his illness fatal — he did not even have time to draw up his will. However, God judged otherwise. Apparently, the seventy-year-old adventurer who served two Polish Kings, one Turkish Sultan, the Russian Tsar and the Swedish King, finally tired of his tricks and changing political courses, and he took his soul to him on the night of September 21-22, according to the old style-that is, from October 5 to October 6, according to the new one.

As soon as Ivan Stepanovich left his Treasury and passed to the heavenly jurisdiction, his house was immediately sealed by the local Turkish authorities. However, Charles XII demanded to transfer the property in it to Voynarovsky. The Turks gave up, and, according to the report of the Gustav Soldan, the Turkish Pasha “sent an order to the judge to remove the seal”. On the same day, the barrels and bags of gold were moved to Voynarovsky’s apartment, and became his complete property.

However, this was only the beginning of many years of Mazepa’s treasures adventures. Literally over the grave of the deceased, an ugly financial scandal broke out. The runaway head, led by the clerk Orlik, whom they wanted to elect as the new Hetman, said that Mazepa’s wealth is not his personal property, but the State Treasury of Ukraine, to which they all have the right. However, in Ukraine at this time there was another, quite legitimate Hetman-Ivan Skoropadsky, elected not at the gathering of a handful of emigrants, but at the legal Rada in Glukhov immediately after Mazepa’s escapement. It would be logical to transfer all the money to Ukraine, but the “heirs” were interested not in distant Ukraine, but in its close and delicious Treasury.

THE LITIGATION OVER THE HARITAGE. Therefore, Orlik and his supporters turned to their “best protector” (defenders) To the Royal Majesty of Sweden, to judge who owns the sacks and barrels. But the Royal Majesty itself was in very straitened financial circumstances after Poltava, having lost the army and honor, and sat helplessly on Turkish territory waiting for the turn of fortune. They took the sudden division of the Cossack heads for the heritage as a sign of heaven to intercept easy money.

Everything that happened next is available in the study of the famous Ukrainian historian Lubomir Vinar, who works in the United States. This venerable scholar wrote a special work “Andrey Voynarovsky”, the most interesting section that is devoted to the adventures of Hetman’s barrels and their division. I specifically refer to him so that our dope-headed “patriots” will understand that this story is well developed in the West by emigrant nationalist science. If someone starts shouting, once again trying to accuse me of non-existent sins, then let them address all questions directly to the United States of America, where Lubomir Vinar  has worked hard at Colorado, Kent and Bowling Green universities, he is the founder of the “Ukrainian Historian” magazine and chairman of the World Scientific Council, at the World Congress of Ukrainians — an organization that is incredibly respected by the current president Viktor Yushchenko, who reminds Mazeppa in many features.

But the main thing is not even mentioned one, but the fact that Vinar investigated the case of Mazepa’s material heritage on the basis of archival data: both discovered personally and discovered by his predecessors who worked both abroad and in the Ukraine.


On the 22nd of October, 1709, the offended Mazepa’s followers in the person of General clerk Orlik, General Officer Staff Lomikovsky, General staff of Cossack hetman Mirovich, Colonel Gorlenko and commander of Cossack camp of the Zaporozhian Cossack host Gordienko gave Charles XII the ornately named document “Submissive memorial of the Zaporozhye Army to the Holy Royal Majesty of Sweden”. Here they accused Voynarovsky of fraudulently taking possession of the Ukrainian Treasury, passing it off as the personal property of his uncle.

“Although he is the nephew of Hetman Mazepa’s sister, –  the complainants wrote about Voynarovsky, — however he unfairly and unjustly assumes the right to have what belongs not to private person of the Hetman, but to the whole Army... As the custom of our country and the ancient law forbids the descendant of Zaporozhye hetmans to appropriate after their death movable and immovable property belonging to the entire Army and the public Treasury…We know well that all the treasures of the previous Zaporozhye hetmans: Bryukhovetsky, Mnogogreshny, Samoylovich and his sons... and many Ukrainian monasteries and churches destroyed by turkish weapons on this bank of the Dnieper, and the money collected for so many years from all over Ukraine to the military Treasury, fell into the hands of Hetman Mazepa, at his disposal and under his protection... We know very well that nothing of gold and precious stones was lost, but the Hetman brought all this with him to Bendery.”

This scandal shone a light on the dark financial past of Mazepa, who during the twenty-one years of his rule ceased to distinguish between his own and the public. The prosperous class of Cossacks even accused the deceased that in 1687 he received the post of Hetman by bribing the favorite of Princess Sophia: “Mazepa handed over many treasures of Hetman Samoylovich to Prince Golitsyn in Moscow for the hetmanship granted to him without the consent of the Zaporozhye Army … To this day, witnesses are still alive who dug out various vessels of Hetman Samoylovich full of ducats on the orders of Hetman Mazepa, namely, the gentlemen Dovgopoly and Bystritsky.”


Among other sins, Orlik and the company recalled Mazepa how he bought the title of Prince of the Roman Empire (as Austria was then called) for 3 thousand ducats, sent to Prince Menshikov in Moscow, and already here, in Bendery, he sold some small items from the property of his predecessor — large silver pans and other tableware with the coats of arms of Hetman Samoylovich, which “could not be sold without the consent of the Zaporozhye Army”.

On behalf of this Army, the prosperous class of Cossacks demanded that Voynarovsky return the entire state Treasury – gold, silver, precious stones, “among which is a diamond pen of 20 thousand Imperials”, bills to various persons, including the Swedish General Lagercrone and Princess Dolskaya, spears decorated with gold and precious stones, sables and other property, “so that the Motherland does not require us to report on the embezzled military Treasury in the future”. Otherwise, the prosperous class of Cossacks refused to elect a new Hetman, because “without the nerve of war – money”, he could not be a real ruler.

In fact, it was all a farce. Both Voynarovsky, Orlik, and Charles XII had no right to divide the money “collected from all Ukraine”. The real Ukraine had nothing to do with them. There was a small group of helpless political bankrupts and two barrels of gold that they claimed in Bendery.

But all of them were still going to recoup. The prosperous class of Cossacks wanted to return to Ukraine and rule it again. The King wanted to take revenge for the incompetently lost Poltava. Voynarovsky just wanted money to have fun living abroad. Charles XII, who needed the “nerve of war” no less than the political children of Hetman Mazepa, decided to use the situation to his advantage. Since the prosperous class of Cossacks saw him as a judge, he decided to conduct the trial primarily for his own benefit.


The Swedish King decided that all the money that was under Mazepa belonged to Voynarovsky. He did not accept the arguments of the prosperous class — even the pans with Samoilovich’s coats of arms, which Mazepa allegedly “drove” to the left before his death, did not touch his soul. He understood that Mazepa's followers would still elect a Hetman from their midst. Where should they go? They needed to get at least some status in the eyes of Europe. Who would Orlik be without “elections”? An emigrant clerk? So he will acquire the resonant title of Hetman-emigrant!

Besides, the king needed money. But the only “Bank” in the Bendery wilderness were barrels of gold of the dead Mazepa. A gang of prosperous class could have taken them from a lone and unarmed Voynarovsky. But the “gang” of Karl, numbering about 2 thousand Swedish soldiers and officers who had fled from Peter, was even stronger and could easily slaughter Orlik and his supporters.

If the King gave the “gold of Mazepa” to the state Treasury of Ukraine and returned it to the prosperous class of Cossacks, he would have been left without money. And even if this company of scandalous people who consider themselves the Ukrainian elite and watch each other, no matter who stole what, in the future became Karl's creditors, it would not be easy to get rid of it. It is much more interesting to take the side of the weakest in this situation — Voynarovsky - and “appoint” him as the heir. First, he would have danced with joy. Second, out of gratitude, he would lend the King whatever he asked for. And third, because of political infirmity, he would not insist too much on a quick return of the loan.

This is exactly what the King did. Moreover, in the past, he had already borrowed from Mazepa on small things through third parties; the bills of the Swedish General Lagerkron were actually debt obligations of Karl himself, who did not want to admit publicly that he was bankrupt.

New loans were received at 6 percent per annum in different currencies-chervonets, reichstalers and alberttalers – for a total of 305,533 Swedish platers (each plater was equal to two thalers). This exact amount, which Mazepa’s nephew lent to the King of Sweden, plus interest for thirteen years in the amount of 238,290 platers, is indicated in the demands made in 1722 to the heirs of Charles XII by Voynarovsky’s “wife”, a certain Anna Voynarovskaya. I write the word “wife” in quotation marks, because this lively lady managed to marry the heir of Mazepa, already having one husband in Ukraine — a military comrade Semyon Zabela, with whom she never divorced. Voinarovsky – a great lover of women and card games – could not resist her charms, and then ran away, leaving with his daughter. Anna counted more than a million thalers in debt to the Swedish government, along with the accrued interest. But it was not easy to get them.

Oles Buzina  

Stories from Oles Buzina: Mazepa’s Gold 2

Sweden owes Ukraine almost $ 170 million for a loan taken from the Hetman’s heir. The interest rate increases every day!

It was advantageous for Charles XII to pretend that the “Mazeppa’s gold” was not the state Treasury of Ukraine, but the Hetman's private savings, since the King himself was going to put his hand in them. Therefore, he recognized the deceased's nephew, Andrey Voynarovsky, as the only heir to controversial wealth. Ukrainian Diaspora historian Lubomyr Vinar, who dealt with this conflict in detail, writes the following: “The commission ended a whole massacre in favor of Voynarovsky, who was greatly helped by the Hetman's confidant and administrator Ivan Bystritsky with his testimony. Later it turned out that Bystritsky's confessions were untrue”.

The perjurer confessed to the crime on his deathbed in 1717, eight years after the money was divided. The reason for his "remorse" is simple –  Voynarovsky did not pay him for his services. Wanting revenge, two days before Bystritsky’s death he wrote a letter to the Swedish King. In it, he tearfully complained about the ungrateful nephew of Mazeppa, who promised him 100 ducats for the fact that he, as a person who "was in the service of Mazeppa for forty years", confirmed that the bags and barrels of gold, on which the Hetman "went" to emigrate, were his private, not public goods.

A hundred ducats is a considerable sum. Dukat – a gold coin weighing 3.5 grams. Thus, Bystritsky sold his conscience for 350 grams of gold. “And if I confirmed the truth,” he wrote, “I would have to say that Mazepa appropriated the treasures of three hetmans – Bryukhovetsky, Mnogogreshny and Samoylovich, as well as three sons of Samoylovich… The treasures of all these persons remained with Mazepa. Mazepa had the public money for the rent, and after the Hetman's death, gentleman Voynarovsky received all those public values and Hetman regalia.”

In fact, these riches were appropriated by Mazepa, since, according to the above-mentioned person who served with him for forty years, the dead Hetman came to Ukraine in only poor clothes, and died, “taking all the treasures of the public Treasury”.

This letter made public the unsightly background of Mazepa’s embezzlement and the greed of his imaginary “heir”. According to Lubomir Vinar, “the course of the massacre before the Bender Commission revealed many negative features of A. Voynarovsky and the Cossack prosperous class. Here, first of all, there is a chase for a sister (nephew of a sister. – O. B.) Mazepa showed a chase for treasures and complete non-tolerance to the claims of the prosperous class. On the other hand, the Cossack prosperous class at an unusual time reproached Mazepa for abusing public income. As we can see, our first political emigration in the XVIII century could not repair internal differences within each other. The main cause of misunderstandings was material goodness”.

But Voynarovsky refused in favor of the General clerk Orlik from the Mace. He preferred real money to the mythical title of Hetman in exile. He was a young, frivolous man who loved women and card games. In gratitude for the support, Mazepa’s nephew lent Charles XII 611 thousand 66 thalers at 6 percent per annum, considering it a very profitable investment in his future, and commited himself to the joys of foreign life, spending time traveling to all the available capitals of Europe from Istanbul to Stockholm.

Somewhere along the way, he also got a “wife” – the daughter of the Pereyaslav Colonel Anna Mirovich, who fell in love with Mazepa’s nephew, left her husband, a military comrade Semyon Zabela, and went abroad.

She was hurting, adventurous woman. No one remembered her with a kind word – neither in Ukraine, nor among the “first wave” of Ukrainian emigration. Orlik believed that it was she who spoiled his relationship with Voynarovsky. Orlik’s wide said about her in one of her letters the following: “God knows about the current Lady Voynarovskaya, who she finally belongs to, or Voynarovsky, or her first husband Zabela”. She married Voynarovsky in Bendery against all Church laws-without divorcing her first husband. However, Voynarovsky did not stand it for long. He ran away from Anna in 1715 in Wroclaw, leaving her daughter Eleonora; and he and his son went to Vienna.

In the following year, Voynarovsky, who was short of money, came to Sweden to remind the king of his duty. But Charles XII, as usual, was at war, he was in need of funds and did not have the opportunity to pay. As wise as one went, Mazeppa’s nephew went to the free city of Hamburg, famous for its rich port and wide card game.

The local ladies and gamblers were infatuated with him. Nor did the tsarist government slumber, whose agents caught the fugitive followers of Mazepa one by one and returned them to Tsar Peter. Tsarist intelligence worked perfectly. Its officers, including the famous captain Rumyantsev, famous for catching Tsarevich Alexey, followed the frivolous Voynarovsky and even played cards with him, taking advantage of his well-known weakness.

Mazepa’s nephew was seized on the street as he was returning from a dinner at the Countess Konigsmark’s and taken to the Russian Embassy. The Hamburg magistrate objected, but the Russian resident (envoy) said that Voynarovsky was a fugitive tsarist subject, an embezzler, and should be immediately returned to Russia. “I am doubly sorry for this cavalier," wrote the Prussian envoy in Hamburg. – The other day he lost all his money at cards, and now he may lose his life”.

A brief diplomatic struggle ensued over the prisoner. The Swedes claimed that Andrey was a Colonel in their army. He justified that he had never “participated in any plots with his uncle” against the Tsar and expressed the hope that the King of Sweden would release him. But the King did not need a man to whom he owed so much. Protesting for show, the noble Europeans gave the nephew of an outstanding embezzler into the hands of Tsar Peter. He spent the rest of his life, first in St. Petersburg under investigation, and then in Siberia, living for more than twenty years in the healthy Russian climate beyond the Urals, and corresponding from time to time with his wife, who remained in Europe.

Unlike the Decembrist wives, Anna Zabela-Voynarovskaya decided not to go with her husband to far-off Yakutsk, preferring to it also cold, but much closer Stockholm. There, she engaged in extorting debts from the Swedish government to her husband.


To his illegitimate wife, Andrey Voynarovsky left loans to the Swedish king. He managed to arrange his will by notary. Anna, “an extremely agile woman”, according to Lubomir Vinar, arrived in Sweden in 1718 and plied it with her claims.The Swedish state archives found more than seventy of her letters in Latin, German, French and Swedish. I don't think she was a polyglot. But there were enough lawyers in Sweden to handle the cases of the energetic wife of two Ukrainian husbands.

Charles XII recognized his duty. How could he not admit it? The king waged endless wars, was constantly in need of money, and had to take care of his “credit history”. But, by coincidence, in February of the following year, the “lion of the North”, as it was called by flatterers, was shot in Norway during the siege of a fortress. Then Anna took on the heir of the deceased-Queen Ulrika Eleonora, the sister of the childless Charles.

In the anarchy that followed his death (the country was actually ruled by the Parliament), lady Voynarovskaya felt in her place. She presented a bill for more than half a million Swedish pleths – mote then a million thalers. Anna was ready to give up part of the debt. But she persistently demanded 400 thousand thalers, despite any objections. Along the way, the harmful woman also bombarded other European courts with messages, inciting an international scandal.

At first, the Swedes paid her off with a pension, assigning 4,000 thalers of annual assistance. But she wasn't satisfied with that. In the end, the case of Voynarovskaya was considered even at a meeting of Ministers. After the report, they came to the conclusion that you need to pay off the harmful woman somehow. as count Krongielm declared: “I am very much afraid that if she does not get satisfaction, this matter will cause us trouble more than once. I think that if you agree with her, then Voynarovskaya will renounce a significant part of her claim and agree to pay her in parts for five, six, and maybe even ten years. If she leaves without getting anything, and puts forward her demands through the mediation of one of the ruling houses, then we will certainly not give up this case so easily”.

In the end, Voynarovsky received a certain amount of cash, a house in Stockholm and the castle Tinnelse over the Malersky lake. There was not enough money for the maintenance of the castle, and the swindler, realizing that they got rid of her too cheaply, immediately began to sell the building in parts. First, she drove the copper roof for export. The rest of the building, left roofless, fell apart under the cold Swedish sky, even though it was built of stone.

The exact amount paid to Voynarovsky’s false wife by the Swedes is not known. Apparently, it was not a large one, since soon Anna got a job working for Russian intelligence as well. An outstanding emigration activist followed Hetman Orlik, promised to lure him to visit her and give him to the Tsar’s agents – also for export, like the roof of a castle. In exchange, the lady wanted to get her beloved husband from Siberia. One plan followed another in her mind. In 1722, she even offered Peter I a barter: you return me my husband, and I give you a half of what the Swedes owe me. The audacity of it, like the entrepreneurial spirit knew no bounds. Only death put an end to it.

However, the document which would testify that the Swedish government received from Voynarovsky a rejection, historians have not discovered.


As you can see on the basis of perjury, “Mazepa’s gold” was recognized by Sweden as his personal property, and not the Treasury of the Ukrainian state. Voynarovsky had no rights to this money. His “wife” has even less rights to them. No one divorced her from her first husband, Zabela. So, it can't be considered the legal half of Voynarovsky. According to Church and civil laws, Anna Zabela-Voynarovskaya is a criminal guilty of polyandry. The Swedish government did not know about this fact, otherwise it would not even have bought off her for small things.

It turns out that Sweden still owes Ukraine a huge amount. But how much, let’s figure it out. In 1709, it was 611 thousand 66 thalers. If we take into account the 6 percent annual interest that has accumulated over three centuries, then today Sweden's debt to us is 11,610,254 thalers (I write in words, as in the financial statement: “eleven million six hundred and ten thousand two hundred and fifty-four thalers”).

Each Swedish Thaler (locally pronounced “Daler”) counted 28 grams of pure silver. That is, in silver, Sweden should 325087 kg and 112 gr. The cost of one gram of silver today is about 50 cents, at the rate of the national Bank. When transferred to US dollars – the universal means of payment of our days – a pretty penny runs up: 169 million 633 thousand 783 dollars.

But it is even more interesting if you recalculate it at the rate of the numismatic market, where old coins are displayed. That’s where the bill can go to billions, of course, for the entire Treasury, appropriated by Mazepa and “borrowed” by Karl.

Charles XII belonged to the House of Palatinate-Zweibrücken. Sweden is now ruled by the House of Bernadotte. But it doesn't matter. Karl lent money not as a private individual, but as the head of state. The blood relation has no meaning in this dispute. But the right of inheritance is important. The current Sweden is the direct successor of Karl’s Sweden. And the current kings are the heirs of his property and his debts.

Of course, there will be an international scandal. But Romania has not been afraid of such hype recently, demanding a piece of the shelf near the Snake Island (Black Sea). And it won the argument. If Ukraine persists, it is possible to drag Sweden to the international court of justice in the same way.

This claim has a huge documentary base. To a large extent, these documents have also been published. After all, Swedish historians did not suspect that Ukraine would gain independence and be able to demand what the invaders from Scandinavia and their puppets – Mazepa and Voynarovsky – took from it at the beginning of the XVIII century.

Oles Buzina

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