In 1996, while visiting the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, I stepped into a room brightly lit by a window, turned to my right, and came face to face with this painting close up and at eye level. Six and a half feet high and almost twelve feet long — the men in the foreground are painted almost life-size, it depicts a legendary scene in Ukrainian history, adopted by Russia as part of its history as well. After being delivered a letter from the Sultan of Turkiye the Cossacks commiserated on a reply.
Turkish Sultan Mehmed IV to the Zaporozhian Cossacks, A.D. 1676:
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.
Sultan Mehmed IV
Zaporozhian Cossacks of Ukraine 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 clown of Hades, an idiot before God, grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our cock. Pig’s snout, mare’s arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw your own mother! So the Zaporozhians declare, you basest of runts. Y ou 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!
Koshoviy Otaman Ivan Sirko, with the whole Zaporozhian Brotherhood