Studying the system of executive bodies of the Cossack state in the middle of XVII – end of the XVIII century since the XIX century is the subject of historical and jurisprudential research. Distinctive unique and brightly expressed militarized orientation of executive apparatus of Hetmanate today creates a wide field for historical research, based on the experience of previous generations and new developments of historical and jurisprudential disciplines.
The article aims to identify executive bodies of Hetmanate on regimental-centesimal level on the example of capital Nizhyn Cossack Regiment in 1648 – 1783. Restoration of Ukrainian statehood in 1648, put questions before the Ukrainian people of compiling of its own state apparatus, separation of the major branches of power, creation of new administrative structures and posts. In conditions of war, permanent mobilization, military organization has turned into political and territorial, and division into regiments and hundreds became the scheme of public administration.
Plenitude of military and civil authorities in Nizhyn regiment belonged to colonel. They became mostly people who were skilful commanders, used special confidence of hetman and had authority over the officers and Cossack regiment. According to cossacks customs the post of colonel was electoral. However, in practice Ukrainian hetmans, trying to centralize power, appointed colonels by their own universals. Bohdan Khmelnytsky and his successors gave colonel posts to relatives, it was explained by two factors: first, the proximity of Nizhyn, Chernihiv, Starodub to hetman residences in Baturin and Gluhiv; second, the remoteness to Zaporizhska Sich, because people adjacent to Zaporizhia more fiercely defended their rights when choosing colonel and authority of Hetman’s mace, especially after the death of Bohdan Khmelnytsky was weak here.
Starting from the XVIII century electivity and appointment of colonels gradually passed into the hands of Russian government, which tried to unify ethnically colorful provinces of the state. At the request of his representatives Hetman Ivan Skoropadsky had to dismiss suspicious colonels, and since 1715 a new system of appointment of regimental officers was introduced. Elections were canceled, and it undermined key foundations of existence of the cossack administration based on supremacy of solutions of general’s and petty councils. To the functions of cossack councils belonged only selection of two or three candidates, one of whom was appointed by hetman in agreement with the resident of Moscow government. Appointment to the post of Nizhyn Colonel of earl P. Tolstoy started political thought out tradition of Moscow government to place on petty posts Russian nobles, thereby turning them into imperial governors of Ukrainian provinces.
In the sphere of public administration colonel acted as performer of principal decisions of hetman and general foreman. His task was to quickly bring information about decisions of the supreme legislative power to the people of regiment and follow up its accomplishment. Militarily, the colonel was responsible for state of formed on the territory of regiment military unit, took care of its fighting ability, ensured discipline, tangible provision and mobilization. In the jurisdiction of the colonel were collecting taxes for military treasure and distribution of free farmlands between representatives of the Cossack based on their military merit. Realization of power of colonel was provided by regimental officer: transport driver, calligrapher, judge, osavul and cornet. Formally, each of the post was elective, but in fact it was received by adherents of hetmans and Nizhyn colonels.
The next element after regimental were bodies of executive power on centesimal level. Plenitude of executive power was concentrated by sotnik who has administrative, military and judicial functions within the limits of subordinated to him territorial unit. His responsibilities were promulgation and enforcement of orders received from regimental chancellery, conducting of revisions of population, descriptions of property, collection of various fees from population, authentification of contracts of purchase and sale of estates and others. Sotnik headed the centesimal formation, which included centesimal otaman, centesimal calligrapher, centesimal osavul and centesimal cornet. To the functions of listed formation, except otaman belonged same duties as to the regimental formation. In contrast to the regimental formation of Nizhyn regiment centesimal formation did not have ranked estates and keeping of it fully relied on cossack and peasant population, subordinated to them hundreds
On the whole bodies of executive power of Nizhyn cossack regiment in the middle of XVII – end of the XVIII century fulfill the popular tradition of state building on regimental-centesimal level. The system of obtaining of posts in regimental formation of Nizhyn regiment, as in all of Hetmanate, was not stable and well defined. Colonel posts were received either by election or appointments by hetmans himself. Sotnik of Nizhyn cossack regiment were elected either by cossacks of hundreds or appointed from above. This dual combination was an example of coexistence between democratic and authoritarian tendencies in the managing of cossack state in the second half of XVII – end of the XVIII.
Entrusted to the bodies of executive power functions allowed to regimental and centesimal formations create conditions for socio-economic development of Nizhyn and centesimal centers, to ensure order in society, create a protection system of population of Nizhyn regiment and executing of tasks set by the state. At the same time defined officials, primarily took care about their own enrichment, demanded numerous bribes, harassed cossacks and peasant population. At the end of the XVIII century bodies of executive power of Nizhyn regiment became purely formal meaning, had no real levers of power and were abolished by the Russian government.