chapter
Introduction
ByGalina Yermolenko
Pages 20

This chapter explains the tremendous popularity of Roxolana in Ukraine, her native country, given that she was a real international celebrity from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. It demonstrates that Antonovych and Drahomanov, in their choice of a folkloric parallel for Roxolana, were inspired by romantic assumptions about the Ukrainian national spirit, which led them to a misinterpretation of this epic as a manifestation of that spirit and which ultimately resulted in their portraying Roxolana as Ukraine's champion. The chapter explains that this epic was only one in a large series of Ukrainian epics and ballads that reflected the people's response to the challenges of Turkish slavery, as they referred to a large-scale Ottoman slave hunt and trade conducted from the fifteenth century through the eighteenth century, thus offering rich information on the context of Roxolana's career in the Ottoman court.