Some historians suggest that the Cossack people were of mixed ethnic origins, descending from Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Turks, Tatars, and others who settled or passed through the vast Steppe.
The Zaporozhian Cossacks lived on the Pontic-Caspian steppe below the Dnieper Rapids (Ukrainian: za porohamy), also known as the Wild Fields.
They became a well-known group whose numbers increased greatly between the 15th and 17th centuries.
In 1261 some Slavic people living in the area between the Dniester and the Volga were mentioned in Ruthenian chronicles.
Historical records of the Cossacks before the 16th century are scant as the history of the Ukrainian lands in that period for various reasons.
Cossacks were usually organized by Ruthenian boyars or princes of the nobility, especially various Lithuanian starostas.