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Tustan history


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In the 9th century, the territory of modern Tustan was populated by tribes of White Croats. At the end of the 10th century, Croatian principalities that were formed in the basin of the San River, the Upper and Middle Dnister, and the Upper Prut River, were conquered by the Kyivan Rus Prince Volodymyr Sviatoslavych and annexed to Kyivan Rus[4].

In the mid-12th century, Tustan, together with such towns as Peremyshl, Zvenyhorod, Sanok, Horodok, Yaroslav, Vyshnia, Holohory, Synevydsko, Spas, Stara Sil, Lviv, Drohovyzh, Sambir, and Tukhlia, was part of the Peremyshl Principality[5]. Later, the fortress was the main regional border center between the Galician-Volynian Principality and Hungary, and after former became part of the Kingdom of Poland — between the Kingdom of Poland and Hungary.

The oldest record of Tustan was of 1340 in the text of the Polish chronicler Janko of Czarnków, who was a vice chancellor of the Polish King Kazimierz III. In his chronicles, which covered the events between 1363 and 1384, among the towns and fortresses of the Rus land, newly overtaken by the king, he mentioned “Lemberg, or Lviv, the town of Peremyshl, the town and fortress of Sanok, the town of Korosno, the fortresses of Lubachiv, Terebovlia, Halych, Tustan.” While Janko of Czarnków said nothing about the occupation of Tustan, the other Polish chronicler Jan Długosz (1415—1480) directly points to the fact that in 1340 “during one summer, King Kazimierz takes over the whole Rus”: “Kazimierz… on the birthday of John the Baptist moved to the Rus land and occupied the towns and fortresses of Peremyshl, Halych, Lutsk, Volodymyr, Sanok, Lubachiv, Terebovlia, Tustan, other Rus towns and fortresses”[6]. The records by those two chroniclers indicate that Tustan as a defence fortress had existed before it was taken over by the Polish king in the 14th century. Archeological findings prove the same thing.

The oldest documented record about Tustan was in a letter of Pope Boniface IX of May 15, 1390. It says that Władysław of Opole handed down the town of Rohatyn, the castles of Olesko and Tustan, with their hamlets, property, and all their fields and a tithe of the profit of salt mines in Drohobych and Zhydachiv to the newly formed Galicia Catholic diocese. Besides its defensive role, Tustan had an administrative function as a center of volost. It was testified by the royal charter for the village of Krushelnytsia of November 4, 1395. It says that the village of Krushelnytsia of the Tustan volost was granted to obedient servants, Ivan and Damian, and their sons with all its property: forests, pasture grounds, fields, and hayfields[7].

Later, the fortress was overtaken by Polish magnates and gentry. Which was testified by the royal charter of 1539. The king, at the request of Jan of Tarnów, grants to Mikolaj Blizinski and his heirs “the fortress of Tustan, that is, the rocks only in the Stryi mountains near the border with Hungary”. They promised to “defend, restore, reinforce, and maintain this castle on the rocks”. It is not known if the fortress of Tustan was restored and reinforced, but in 1541 Blizinski granted the village of “Pidhorodtsi and the fortress of Tustan” to Jan of Tarnów[8].

Tustan was a customs site. A salt trade route went through it. The route started in Drohobych, went through the village of Tustanovychi, Tustan and the village of Pidhorodtsi, and then along the valleys of the Stryi and the Opir reached the Carpathian passes and went down to the western European countries. Toponyms like Pidhostynets, Hostynets and mount Tovar indicate the existence of the trade route[9]. Tustan guards collected customs from merchants and ensured their protection during goods shipment.

The fact that the fortress of Tustan existed till the 16th century was proven by the archeological expedition findings and by documents: the last records about the fortress was dated by 1565, in an inventory of the Drohobych saltworks. It said: “…in Tustan they collect customs duty from merchants who travel over the mountains, passing by Drohobych. Customs duty… is 14 zloty”.

Several factors caused the gradual decline of the fortress:

1) Economic: in the 16th century, the countries of Central Europe started their own salt quarries, hence no demand for salt from Galicia. Tustan ceased to be a customs site.

2) Political: Tustan ceased to play any role of a border defence fortress because of stabilised political relations between Poland and Hungary and shifting the Polish border further east.

3) Military: Tustan lost its defensive function due to changes in military equipment and military tactics.


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