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Podkova (Підкова) Ivan
(d. 1578)

Podkova (Підкова) Ivan(d. 1578)

Ioan Podkova (or Ivan Pidkova, also known as Ioan Sarpega, Ioan Creţul, and allegedly baptized as Nicoară Potcoavă) was a Hetman of Ukrainian Cossacks (1577 - 1578; possibly the first one in history to be elected by the entire Zaporizhian Sich), and Voivode (Prince) of Moldavia (November - December 1577). His moniker ("potcoavă" in Romanian/"pidkova" in Ukrainian - "horseshoe") is said to originate in the fact that he used to ride his stallions to the point of braking off their horseshoes; another version says that he could break and unbend both horseshoes and coins with his fists.

After rising to prominence as a successful soldier, he was elected Hetman by the Cossacks of the Zaporozhian Host neighbouring Moldavia. Such elections do not appear to have been uncommon; Stefan Batory, the Prince of Transylvania stated that:

"The lands between the Bug and Dniester are populated by a mix of races composed of Lithuanian Poles, Muscovites and Romanians. The Cossacks are raised from the Muscovites and Romanians"

In 1574, Ioan Vodă cel Cumplit named the territory "Our Country from over the Dniester". Other Moldavian Hetmans of the Cossacks were Grigore Lobodă (1593–1596) and Danylo Apostol (1727–1734).

Ioan Potcoavă was one of the so called Domnişori ("Little Princes"), named so because of a more or less based claims of belonging to Moldavian ruling families, thus exercising demands of the throne.

Claiming to be Ioan Vodă's half-brother, he chased Petru Şchiopul from the throne and resisted the first wave of violent Ottoman reaction. The Turks, their Wallachian vassal Mihnea Turcitul and their Polish partner, King Stefan Báthory, managed to remove him. In the end, Ioan Potcoavă was taken prisoner and decapitated in Lvov.

He is the hero of Taras Shevchenko's romantic 1839 poem Ivan Pidkova, of Romanian writer Mihail Sadoveanu's socialist realist 1952 novel Nicoară Potcoavă, and of several Cossack ballads.


Ukraine, 2006, Ivan Podkova and Ivan Sirko

USSR, 1987.01.04, Ivan Podkova monument in Lvov

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