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Mazeppa

(Jan), historically, was hetman of the Cossacks. Born of a noble Polish family in Podolia, he became a page in the court of Jan Casimir, King of Poland. Here he intrigued with Theresia, the young wife of a Podolian count, who had the young page lashed to a wild horse, and turned adrift. The horse dropped down dead in the Ukraine, where Mazeppa was released by a Cossack family, who nursed him in their own hut. He became secretary to the hetman, and at the death of the prince was appointed his successor. Peter I. admired him, and created him Prince of the Ukraine, but in the wars with Sweden Mazeppa deserted to Charles XII., and fought against Russia at Pultowa. After the loss of this battle, Mazeppa fled to Valentia, and then to Bender. Some say he died a natural death, and others that he was put to death for treason by the Czar. Lord Byron makes Mazeppa tell his tale to Charles after the battle of Pultowa. (1640-1709.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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