The Battle of Poltava has long been recognized as a crucial event in the geopolitical history of Europe and a decisive point in the Great Northern War between Sweden and the Russian Empire. The Russian victory at Poltava contributed to the decline of Sweden as a Great Power and was a major setback to Ukrainian independence. Hetman Ivan Mazepa, who joined forces with the Swedish king Charles XII against Tsar Peter I, remains a controversial figure even today.
In 2009, the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute gathered scholars from around the globe and from many fields of study--history, military affairs, philology, linguistics, literature, art history, music--to mark the 300th anniversary of the battle. This book is a collection of their papers on such topics as the international, Russian, and Ukrainian contexts of the battle; Mazepa in European culture; the language and literature of the period; art and architecture; history and memory; and fact, fiction, and the literary imagination. Mazepa himself is the focus of many of the articles--a hero to Ukrainians but a treacherous figure to Russians. This book provides a fresh look at this watershed event and sheds new light on the legacies of the battle's major players.