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Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks

The Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire by the Kharkiv-born artist Ilya Repin is utterly magnificent. There are actually two different versions. The first, in Saint Petersburg, was painted between 1880 and 1891. It was bought by Tsar Alexander III for 35,000 roubles, the highest amount then paid for a Russian painting. Even before the first version was complete, Repin had started on a second version with more historically accurate clothing. This was never finished and is in Kharkiv.

The paintings commemorate the alleged drafting of a reply to the 1676 ultimatum from the Sultan Mehmed IV to the Cossacks. There is some scepticism as to the authenticity of the text.

Sultan Mehmed IV to the Zaporozhian Cossacks: As the Sultan; son of Muhammad; brother of the sun and moon; grandson and viceroy of God; ruler of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Upper and Lower Egypt; emperor of emperors; sovereign of sovereigns; extraordinary knight, never defeated; steadfast guardian of the tomb of Jesus Christ; trustee chosen by God Himself; the hope and comfort of Muslims; confounder and great defender of Christians - I command you, the Zaporogian Cossacks, to submit to me voluntarily and without any resistance, and to desist from troubling me with your attacks.

Turkish sultan Mehmed IV


Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan!

O sultan, Turkish devil and damned devil’s kith and kin, secretary to Lucifer himself. What the devil kind of knight are you, that can't slay a hedgehog with your naked arse? The devil excretes, and your army eats. You will not, you son of a bitch, make subjects of Christian sons; we've no fear of your army, by land and by sea we will battle with thee, fuck your mother.

You Babylonian scullion, Macedonian wheelwright, brewer of Jerusalem, goat-fucker of Alexandria, swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, pig of Armenia, Podolian thief, catamite of Tartary, hangman of Kamyanets, and fool of all the world and underworld, an idiot before God, grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our dick. Pig’s snout, mare’s arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw your own mother!

So the Zaporozhians declare, you lowlife. You won't even be herding pigs for the Christians. Now we’ll conclude, for we don't know the date and don't own a calendar; the moon’s in the sky, the year with the Lord, the day’s the same over here as it is over there; for this kiss our arse!

Koshovyi otaman Ivan Sirko, with the whole Zaporozhian Host.

Tel: 0207 237 0374

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