The Zaporozhian Cossacks or simply Zaporozhians were Ukrainian Cossacks who lived beyond the rapids of the Dnieper river, the land also known as the Great Meadow in Central Ukraine. Today most of its territory is flooded by the waters of Kakhovka Reservoir.
The Zaporizhian Sich grew rapidly in the 15th century from serfs fleeing the more controlled parts of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth and Tsardom of Russia establishing itself as a well-respected political entity with a parliamentary system of government. During the course of the 16th, 17th and well into the 18th centuries the Zaporozhian Cossacks became a strong political and military force that challenged the authority of Commonwealth, the Tsardom of Russia, the Ottoman Empire and its vassal the Crimean Khanate. The Host went through a series of conflicts and alliances involving the three powers before falling into the Russian sphere of influence and eventually being forcibly disbanded in the late 18th century by the Russian Empire.