One of Europe’s first constitutional documents was signed in Ukraine in 1710.
The document was an agreement between the Hetman and the Cossacks, who themselves acted on behalf of the Ukrainian people: it thus differed from other documents of this type, which were between a hetman and a monarch-protector. This was the first time that a newly elected hetman created with his voters a formal agreement that clearly delineated the bases and lines of power. The Constitution was approved by the Swedish King Charles the XII. It was written in Latin and Old Ukrainian and consisted of a preamble and 16 articles, but it did not take force, because it was written during the Hetman’s exile. The Orlyk Constitution is at the core of Ukrainian political, philosophical and legal thought.
With the 'Pact and Constitution of Rights and Freedoms of the Cossack Army' ('Pacta et Constitutiones legum libertatumqe Exercitus Zaporoviensis'), the Ukrainian Hetman led not only Ukraine, but also the entirety of Europe, onto the path of democratic development in the eighteenth century.
According to historians, the Orlyk Constitution is one of the first European latter-day constitutions.
Hetman Orlyk was elected after the death of Ivan Mazepa. He headed the first Ukrainian political emigre community in Western Europe and the government in exile.
Pylyp Orlyk (1672-1742) came from an old Czech family. His father died in the war against the Turks. Pylyp studied at the Jesuit College in Vilnius and was an excellent student at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. He was an educated man, distinguished in oratory and poetry and interested in philosophy and literature. He was competent in Ukrainian, Polish, Slavonic, Bulgarian, Serbian, Latin, Italian, German, Swedish, French, Russian, Ancient Greek, New Greek and probably Turkish. He held positions in the General Military Chancellery and subsequently became a general secretary and Mazepa’s closest adviser.
Pylyp Orlyk is one of the greatest freedom fighters in Ukraine’s history. The street in Kyiv on which the Supreme Court of Ukraine is located was named in his honor. In the Swedish city of Kristianstad, in which he lived, there is a memorial plaque in his honor.