The Hetman's Heritage

A documentary film project about the historical and state-building heritage of the Hetmanate and the family of Skoropadsky - the legacy which is still important for modern Ukraine

Film trailer 1

Film trailer 2

The contradictions between the "republican" and "hetman" state-building traditions have become a big problem for Ukraine, which is still looking for the best model of social order and state rule system, trying to find an optimal balance of concentration and deconcentration of power. The cultural, historical and political heritage of the Hetmanate is significantly underestimated and generally not well understood in modern Ukraine. Nevertheless, this legacy is very important as the positive potential of its use for the development of Ukrainian society is still far from being fully used.

Hetman's Heritage is a multifaceted phenomenon. It includes the unique Ukrainian state-building impulse and tradition, and the historical contribution of every hetman who has been in charge. It also includes such a symbol of the hetmanate as the Hamaliivsky (Kharalampiivsky) monastery - a shrine which is in the urgent need of protection nowadays. Besides, the Skoropadsky family itself is part of Hetman's Heritage, too.

The project team considers it necessary to draw public attention to this heritage and to use the expressive means of documentary cinematography for driving it back to the all-Ukrainian state-building discourse of our time.

We try to reconnect with our own past in order to draw some important conclusions about our future.

Hamaliivsky Monastery

Hamaliivsky Monastery of St. Charalampius. The family vault and treasure of the Skoropadsky hetman family. A high-security prison №66. The "zone". Blasphemy, defilement, and looting. Amazing preservation and revival of the shrine.

Undoubtedly, our sorrow, our pain, our humiliation are important. But more importantly is what conclusions we draw from it all. The conclusions and not just the experience make the basis of our identity. The conclusions help us to realize who we want to become, where we want to be and where we'll never get back to. This way we pass our self-esteem exam, yielding due praise and paying respect to those who have laid the foundations of the state we live in.

Being a Hetman is a burden and a great honor, and charity - generous and sincere. Shortly after Ivan Skoropadsky took over Hamaliivka, large-scale construction began there. At the initiative of his wife, Anastasia Skoropadska (Markovych), a nunnery was built on the site of the women's hermitage known as the Haralampiev Solitude. In 1714, Ivan Skoropadsky declared himself the patron, or a churchwarden, of this monastery.

Anastasia Skoropadska is remembered for her beauty, intelligence and brilliant education, as well as for the influence she had on her husband. Today, three hundred years later, it is difficult for us to comprehend the role that monasteries played back then, and the importance of large stone buildings, especially if built on hetman funds. Here we see a majestic symbol of how the national leader and the head of the state selflessly serves his people - these meanings are largely lost in our time.

Culture, architecture, and historical memory are the key aspects of preserving the identity of the people. It becomes critical in difficult times, like in the XVIII century, when when we see the tsarist government systematic attack everything that is Ukrainian, destroying the very basis of the Ukrainian self-governance, rights and freedoms; seizing lands, enslaving free people and eventually turning Ukraine into "Malorossia" ( a small Russia) - just another conquered province of the empire. The wonderful and unique architectural ensemble of the Hamaliivsky Monastery becomes a lighthouse, a signpost, a kind of marker of the territory, and a symbol of preservation of Ukrainian identity.

The complex of buildings of the monastery includes the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin, which combines Byzantine and Ukrainian traditions of temple construction, Haralampiiv "warm" church, monastic cells, and defensive walls.

The has never seen the construction completed. Ivan was buried in the crypt of the Haralampiivska Church in 1722, Anastasia - in 1729, and their daughter Ulyana - in 1733. Petro Skoropadsky, the father of the last hetman of Ukraine, also rests here. In total, there are tombs of 7 members of the family, along with the abbots and of the monastery.

By the will of Anastasia Skoropadska, the nunnery turned into a friary.

The tsarist government rightly considered the very institution of hetmanship a threat. During the eighteenth century, all the remnants of Ukrainian independence and self-governance have been eliminated. The architectural ensemble of the Hamaliivsky Monastery also suffered from two large-scale fires and sunsequest incompetent reconstruction.

The defiling of holy place

But the most massive blow on the hetman's legacy was forced during the Soviet era. The tsar was overthrown and the attempts to restore the Ukrainian state took place, but they were unsuccessful, and this had reflected badly on Hamaliivsjy Monastery. Moscow-Bolshevik occupiers destroyed the gilded baroque iconostasis, the 320-pood bell, the ancient liturgical books and icons, and many unique works of Ukrainian goldsmiths. But the architectural complex itself miraculously survived in this vortex of tragic events, although the monastery was closed and and converted into a children's colony, a shelter for the elderly, a club, and then into a granary.

As it did reveal, that was not enough. The hetman's legacy must have been an eyesore for the colonial imperial administration of the Soviets. Obviously, they wanted to completely ruin and desecrate it. It was decided to take the complex of buildings of the Hamaliiv Monastery off the State Register of historic and cultural monuments and transfer it to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in order to set a maximum security penal colony - "zone 319/66". This happened in 1962.


But the hetman's legacy, apparently, is sacred and indestructible. The monastery survived half a century of barbaric abuse, although the damage to the monument was immense. However, no matter how great the significance of the Hamaliivsky Monastery for the history and culture of Ukraine is, the very phenomenon of the Hetman's legacy is much larger and more important than the complex of buildings itself. This legacy is mostly symbolic and intangible, and is largely determined by the connection that exists between Ukraine and the Skoropadsky hetman family.

The daughter of Hetman Pavel Skoropadsky, Olena, lived a long and eventful life and helped Ukraine to maintain this connection until the last days. She donated a large number of exhibits to the Museum of the Hetmanate. Through the efforts of Elena Skoropadska, "The Memories" of Hetman was published in Germany.

It is necessary to restore communication between the descendants of Hetman Skoropadsky and Ukraine, to raise the issue of reburial of his remains in his homeland in accordance with his will, and, in the long run, to turn Hamaliisky Monastery into a memorial to Hetmans of Ukraine.


Ukraine has not yet found the optimal combination of hetman and republican traditions, centralized statehood and democratic local self-governance. But the hetmanate is a state-building myth and a symbol of Ukrainian independence. The President of Ukraine takes an oath on the Gospel and picks up the hetman's mace. Apparently, the main part of the hetman's legacy is the indestructible desire of the Ukrainian people for a just and far-sighted hetman-style leadership.

Interdisciplinary scientific and public Forum: "The Legacy of the Ukrainian Hetmanate" to be held in Shostka (Sumy Region, Ukraine) on 2-3 September 2022 - preliminary program 

No matter how great the significance of the Gamaliyev Monastery for the history and culture of Ukraine actually is, the very phenomenon of the Hetman's legacy is much larger and more important than the complex of buildings itself. This legacy is mostly symbolic and intangible.

Tatiana Suchkova-Ladik, producer and director

One way or another, the hetmanate is a basic state-building myth and a symbol of Ukrainian independence. No wonder the President of Ukraine picks up the hetman's mace. The hetmanship still bleeds out through all the layers of our clumsy post-Soviet state realty.

Oleg Bazylewicz, screenplay writer