For the first time it was mentioned in Ipatiiv chronicles in 1174 under the name of "Ltava". To the beginning of the XV century the city already had the modern name - Poltava. In that time it was under ruling of the Lithuanian prince Vitovt.
Since 1648 it was a regimental town.
One of the most tragic periods of the history of the town and all Ukraine was the Northern War. In 1709 Swedish troops together with allies (Zaporizhzhya Cossacks and the troops of hetman Mazepa) were defeated in a battle near Poltava. Since that time had begun the destroying of the Ukrainian statehood by the Russian government. In 1765 the regimental system and in 1775 Zaporiz'ka Sich was destroyed.