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Map of the Wild Field in the 17th century

The WILD FIELDS (Ukrainian : Дике Поле Dyke Pole, Russian : Дикое Поле, Dikoye Polye, Polish : Dzikie pola, Lithuanian : Dykra, Latin : Loca deserta, sive campi deserti inhabitati, also translated as "the Wilderness") is a historical term used in the Polish–Lithuanian documents of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries to refer to the Pontic steppe
Pontic steppe
north of the Black Sea
Black Sea
and Azov Sea
Azov Sea
. The somewhat ambiguous location has been usually defined as lying between the Don River on the east, Kiev
Kiev
on the north, and the left tributaries of the Dniester
Dniester
on the west. Until the 17th and 18th centuries, the region was only sparsely populated with nomadic Nogais
Nogais
and consisted mostly of unpopulated steppes , so the name of "wilderness" came to be applied to it.

The territory was ruled by the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
until the Battle of Blue Waters (1362), which allowed Algirdas
Algirdas
to claim it for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania . As a result of the Battle of the Vorskla River
Battle of the Vorskla River
in 1399, his successor Vytautas
Vytautas
lost the territory to Temur Qutlugh , the khan of the Golden Horde. In 1441 the western section of the Wild Fields, Yedisan
Yedisan
, came to be dominated by the Crimean Khanate
Crimean Khanate
, a political entity controlled by the expanding Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
from the 16th century onward. Alert of the Russian steppe border guards in the 16th century (a 19th-century illustration)

The Wild Field was traversed by the Muravsky Trail
Muravsky Trail
and Izyumsky Trail , important warpaths used by the Crimean Tatars
Crimean Tatars
to invade and pillage the Grand Duchy of Moscow . The Crimean-Nogai Raids , a long period of raids and fighting between Crimean Tatars
Crimean Tatars
, Nogai Horde
Nogai Horde
, Grand Duchy of Lithuania , and the Grand Duchy of Moscow , brought considerable devastation and depopulation to this area prior to the rise of the Zaporozhian Cossacks
Zaporozhian Cossacks
, who periodically sailed down the Dnieper
Dnieper
in dugouts from their base at Khortytsia
Khortytsia
and raided the coast of the Black Sea. The Turks built several fortress towns to defend the littoral, including Kara Kerman (Ochakiv) and Khadjibey (Odessa).

By the 17th century, the eastern part of the Wild Fields
Wild Fields
had been settled by runaway peasants and serfs who made up the core of the Cossackdom . It was during the Khmelnytsky Uprising that the northern part of this area was settled by the Cossacks from the Dnieper
Dnieper
basin and came to be known as Sloboda Ukraine
Sloboda Ukraine
. After a series of Russo-Turkish wars waged by Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great
, the area formerly controlled by the Ottomans and the Crimeans was incorporated into the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
under the name of Novorossiya
Novorossiya
. In the 20th century, the region was divided between Ukraine
Ukraine
, Moldova
Moldova
, and Russia
Russia
.

REFERENCES

* ^ Camporum Desertorum vulgo Ukraina by Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan , Cum Privilegio S.R.M. Poloniae . Gedani 1648; Campi Deserti citra Boristhenem, abo Dzike Polie Polish–Lithuanian , by Ian Jansson, c. 1663, Amsterdam
Amsterdam
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