The story of the vulgar and simultaneously comical letter written by the Cossacks to the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV in the 17th century.

It is reported that around the year 1675, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV sent a letter to the Zaporozhian Cossacks, in which he issued them an ultimatum to cease their attacks on his lands and to unconditionally submit to his rule. The dating of the letter is uncertain, as is the fact of whether the content of the letter is authentic. The addressee is the Koshovyi Otaman Ivan Sirko, whose people indeed often raided the territories of the Ottoman Empire. Below is the Sultan’s letter:

“Sultan Mehmed IV to the Zaporozhian Cossacks

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.”

The Cossacks decided not to take the received letter seriously and prepared a response, in which they comically parodied the lofty style in which the Sultan’s letter was written:

“Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan

O sultan, Turkish devil and damned devil’s kith and kin, secretary to Lucifer himself, Greetings! 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 underworld, an idiot before God, grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our dick. Pig’s snout, mare’s arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw your own mother!

So the Zaporozhians declare, you lowlife. You 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!

Koshovyi Otaman Ivan Sirko, with the whole Zaporozhian Host.”

Translation: Wikipedia

🙂 The reply is still hilarious. In 1880 the painter Ilya Repin became interested in the entire history of the letter and painted the picture “The Cossacks write a letter to the Sultan,” which is shown below.



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