Cossack--- the word meaning guerilla or adventurer (or free man)- first came from the Ukrainian Stepps that begin north of the Black sea and the Caucasus Mountians. The orgin of the cossacks can be traced to serfs who fled from the principality of Moscow in the 14th and 15th centuries and established wheat-growing and stock-raising communities in the valleys of the Dnepr, Don and Ural rivers. The individual cossack communities owned land in common. The cossack communities were governed by village assemblies, presided over elected village elders called atamans or hetmans. The chieftain of a region enjoyed great prestige and exercised the authority of a military chieftain in war and of a civil adminstrator in peacetime. Anybody could join the Cossacks, if the Cossacks considered him a worthy warrior (there are parallels in other warrior cultures for example, the Iroquois and some other Indians would accept strangers, even whites, as members of the tribe, if they could prove in quite challenging tests that they were "real men"). There is evidence that Cossacks accepted in their communities Tartars, Germans, Greeks, Turks. There was only one condition believing in Christ.
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