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“Ukraine as a state existed already in the 16th century”? We check what the map in the school atlas shows

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According to a popular post, students are allegedly taught that Ukraine existed as a country in the 16th century. The proof is to be a photo of a map from the school atlas. This is not clear from this map, as explained by the publisher and experts.

“Dear children, did you know that Ukraine as a country existed already in the 16th century…??? School atlas for a 9-year-old, this is how young people are educated now” – he argued On April 1, 2024, one of the users of website X (original spelling of all entries). As evidence, he attached a photo showing a fragment of a page from an atlas or a school textbook. At the top of the page you can read the heading – the probable title of the chapter – “Jagiellonian Poland and the union of Poland (the Crown) with Lithuania”. Below we see a map of the “Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (16th century)” with a legend.

The territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is marked with a thick red line on the map. Within its borders, two names are written in capital letters: the Kingdom of Poland (in the area marked in light red) and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (in the area marked in light brown). However, the name Ukraine was simply written in capital letters (in the area marked with stripes of both colors, according to the legend, these are “Lands incorporated into the Crown in 1569”).

A popular post showing a map of Poland and Lithuania in the 16th century published on April 1, 2024 on the X website.X.com

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Since April 1, the post with the map has been viewed almost a million times (by April 14, it was 973,000 times). Author of the entry in discussion with Internet users he assuredthat this is not an April Fool's joke.

“The level of hypocrisy is increasing”; “What is it I don't believe”; “So in the new history we had the Republic of the Three Nations?”; “If the author of this map meant a region, there is no problem, but this inscription suggests it is a country,” some Internet users commented.

Not everyone agreed with the author's interpretation of the entry. “The name is correct, it looks like you have a problem with certain things. A historical atlas for primary school is beyond your intelligence”; “After all, there is no trace in this atlas that Ukraine existed as a state. Even the name is in a different font than the names of the countries”; “I think that children are more intelligent than you and will notice that the countries on this map are written in all caps. Ukraine is not,” they wrote.

“But it doesn't say it's a state. Why are you lying?” – asked one of the Internet users. In response, the author argued: “And when a child looks at such a map, what will he see…?” “And where do you have Ukraine as an independent state? It is within the borders of the RON (Rzeczpospolita of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – ed.), and Ukraine was signed on the lands traditionally referred to as such,” commented another Internet user. In response, the author of the popular post argued again: “When a child looks at this, what will he see…. ???? It has Ukraine written clearly and clearly yes??? He won't go into details, he will just remember that there was a state of Ukraine… “This is just distorting history.”

Publishing house: “we used an appropriate font, reserved for important regions”

Map comes from the “Historical Atlas” for grades 5-8 of primary schools published by Demart, on page 50. The textbook was published in 2020 and is consistent with the current core curriculum. In accordance with the applicable law core curriculum the history of the 16th century is taught in the 6th grade.

The manual from which the described map comes.Konkret24

Marzena Wieczorek, editor-in-chief of “Historical Atlas”, states in her comment that the map, which aroused doubts among Internet users, shows that “the Jagiellonians, who exercised (dynastic) power in Poland, were the rulers of the lands described on the map as Ukraine.”

And she explained: “we used an appropriate font, reserved for important regions – lands – that constitute countries, because countries are described in capital letters.”

Wieczorek assessed that “the ownership of these lands should not raise any doubts” for several other reasons. The first is the mentioned red line visible on the map, which, according to the map's legend, surrounds the “borders of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569”. He further draws attention to the fact that “hatching the area with two colors used to fill in the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania indicates the authority over it by these two equal members of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.”

“Since the map concerns the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the Union of Lublin, the Republic of Poland is shown in more detail than other countries bordering it, hence the separation of internal administrative divisions (including the use of a non-state border sign),” she added.

The editor of the publishing house referred directly to the content of the post from website from maps at school from grade 4 onwards. Reading the map legend is a cartographic ABC that everyone should know after graduating from primary school,” she said.

“Additionally, it is worth noting that there is a comment under the map (invisible in the photo in question – ed.). Most of the above information is included in a short text, and the preceding map (p. 48 of this atlas) clearly excludes the interpretation provided by the user. His concern for education a young student, seems to be insincere and characterized by a pre-imposed thesis that has nothing to do with the information contained in this map and this atlas,” concluded Marzena Wieczorek.

Professor Litwin: “it is not a marking of the territory of a separate state”

The common use of letter case to distinguish country names from region names is confirmed by Dr. Piotr Kroll from the Faculty of History of the University of Warsaw, representative for teaching specialization at this faculty. “In order to distinguish individual designations, it is customary to write the names of regions or lands differently than the names of countries. The latter are written in capital letters. This information is probably at the beginning of the above-mentioned historical atlas,” he said in a comment for Konkret24.

As he explained, distinguishing name spellings has been used for quite a long time for clarity of message. “Another matter is the fact that in this case the name 'Ukraine' is written in the same font as the names 'Kingdom of Poland' and 'Grand Duchy of Lithuania', which may mislead the reader. Typically, these two types of markings differ from each other in such so as not to raise doubts as to their meaning,” he said.

“The maps should be legible, especially for an audience such as a primary school student, and the information contained in them should not cause confusion resulting from the unclear distinction between the symbols used,” said Dr. Kroll.

Internet users' doubts about the map were also analyzed by a historian and lecturer at the Center for Eastern European Studies at the University of Warsaw, Dr. Hab. Henryk Litwin, university professor.

“The territory marked (…) with diagonal stripes is, according to the legend of the map, 'the lands incorporated into the Crown in 1569', so it is certainly not a marking of the territory of a separate state,” he emphasized in his comment. “It does not matter what typeface the names are written in on the map, unless appropriate explanations are included in the map legend (there are none in this case),” the historian added.

Professor Litwin notes that the map contains several other errors. “One of them is the designation of the lands mentioned in the map legend as 'incorporated into the Crown in 1569.' called 'Ukraine'. In the period the map should cover (16th century, after the Union of Lublin, i.e. 1569-1600), the term Ukraine was certainly not used to refer to the entire territory specifically, the south-eastern border of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Other errors include the marking on the map of 'Town Prussia' and 'States of the Livonian Order' (in subsequent editions, at this point in the legend, 'Terrains of the State of the Livonian Order from 1561 were entered. Livonia, fief of Poland and Lithuania' – ed. .). It is supposed to be a map of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, i.e. a state that existed since 1569, when both Teutonic Prussia and the 'state of the Livonian Order' no longer existed,” says the historian.

Main photo source: Robert Hoetink/Shutterstock.com

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