COSSACKS, the name given to considerable portions of the population of the Russian empire, endowed with certain special privileges, and bound in return to give military service, all at a certain age, under special conditions (Russ. Kazak, perhaps from the Turki, quzzdq, adventurer). They constituted II separate voiskos, settled along the frontiers: Don, Kuban, Terek, Astrak han, Ural, Orenburg, Siberian, Semiryechensk, Amur, Usuri and Zabaykalye. The primary unit of this organization was the stan itsa, or village, which held its land as a commune. The assembly of all householders in villages of less than 3o households and of 3o elected men in villages having from 3o to 30o households (one from each 10 households in the more populous ones), constituted the village assembly. Military service was obligatory for all men, for 20 years, beginning with the age of 18.
The cohesion and solidarity among the Cossack armies in the various regions was perhaps damaged by the Statute of 1869, which endowed the officers and civil servants with landed property. The rank and file remained under the communal system, the legal owners of the land being the various degrees of the community, from the stanitsa up to the region. The allotments were larger than those of the ordinary peasants, and outsiders, tenants of Cos sack land (inogorodnie), or peasant owners, were envious and eager for equal opportunities. The decree of Dec. 12, 1917, had already altered the terms of military service. The decree of June 1, 1918, levelled the Cossack community with the rest of the population. But the land tenure introduced by the Soviet Gov ernment was much the same as that familiar to the Cossacks, combining individual management with State ownership. During the civil war 1919-21 the Bolshevik power revived extinct Cossack traditions in the Ukraine, forming red (chervonny) Cossack units. Elsewhere the Cossacks fought on both sides and about 30,000 left Russia with the remainder of the defeated white army. Information about the Cossack peoples in the various regions which have become merged into ordinary administrative divisions under Soviet rule is very scarce. (See also POLAND: HISTORY; RAZIN ; MAZEPA. ) BIBLIOGRAPHY.-M. A. Czaplicka, The Evolution of the Cossack Bibliography.-M. A. Czaplicka, The Evolution of the Cossack Communities (1916) ; P. Pellicena, Los Cosacos (1916) ; W. P. Cresson, The Cossacks, their History and Country (1919) ; S. G. Svatikov, History of the Don Cossacks (Russ.; Vienna, 1924) ; R. Fox, People of the Steppes (1925). See also E. Brockhaus and I. A. Ephron, Russian Encyclopaedia.