Last updated
Grand Prince Vladimir Monomakh of the Rurikid dynasty resting with his druzhina after a hunt, by Viktor Vasnetsov. Monomakh's hunting.jpg
Grand Prince Vladimir Monomakh of the Rurikid dynasty resting with his druzhina after a hunt, by Viktor Vasnetsov.

In the medieval history of Kievan Rus' and Early Poland, a druzhina, drużyna, or družyna (Slovak and Czech : družina; Polish : drużyna; Russian : дружина, romanized: druzhina; Ukrainian : дружи́на, druzhýna literally a "fellowship") was a retinue in service of a Slavic chieftain, also called knyaz. The name is derived from the Slavic word drug (друг) with the meaning of "companion, friend". [1] [2]


Early Rus'

In Early Rus', a druzhina helped the prince administer his principality and constituted the area's military force. The first members of a druzhina were the Varangians, [3] whose princes established control there in the 9th century. [4] Soon, members of the local Slavic aristocracy and adventurers of a variety of other nationalities became druzhinniki. The druzhina's organization varied with time and survived in one form or another until the 16th century. [5]

The druzhina was composed of two groups: the senior members, later known as boyars, and the junior members, later known as boyar scions. The boyars were the prince's closest advisers and performed higher state functions. The junior members constituted the prince's personal bodyguard and were common soldiers. Members were dependent upon their prince for financial support but served the prince freely and had the right to leave him and join the druzhina of another prince.

As a result, a prince was inclined to seek the goodwill of his druzhina by paying the druzhinniki wages, sharing his war booty and taxes with them and eventually rewarding the boyars with landed estates that were complete with rights to tax and administer justice to the local population.

At the Battle of Lake Peipus, the army of the Novgorod Republic had about 5000 men in all. Around 3000 men in both the cavalry and the infantry were part of Alexander Nevsky's druzhina.


Ibrahim ibn Yaqub, who traveled in 961–62 in Central Europe, mentions that the drużyna of Duke Mieszko I of Poland had 3000 men, paid by the duke. [6]

Unlike his predecessors, Casimir I the Restorer promoted landed gentry over the drużyna as his base of power.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vladimir the Great</span> 10th and 11th-century Grand Prince of Kiev and Novgorod

Vladimir I Sviatoslavich or Volodymyr I Sviatoslavych, nicknamed the Great, was Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kiev, and ruler of Kievan Rus' from 980 to 1015.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sviatoslav I</span> Grand Prince of Kiev (ruler of the Kievan Rus) from 943 to 972

Sviatoslav I Igorevich (Old East Slavic: Ст҃ославъ / Свѧтославъ Игорєвичь, romanized: Svętoslavŭ Igorevičǐ; Russian: Святослав Игоревич; Ukrainian: Святослав Ігорович, romanized: Sviatoslav Ihorovych; Belarusian: Святаслаў Ігаравіч;, also spelled Svyatoslav, was Grand Prince of Kiev famous for his persistent campaigns in the east and south, which precipitated the collapse of two great powers of Eastern Europe, Khazaria and the First Bulgarian Empire. He conquered numerous East Slavic tribes, defeated the Alans and attacked the Volga Bulgars, and at times was allied with the Pechenegs and Magyars.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus'</span> 1237–42 campaign of the Mongol Empires invasion of Europe

The Mongol Empire invaded and conquered Kievan Rus' in the mid-13th century, destroying numerous cities including the largest such as Kiev and Chernigov, with the only major cities escaping destruction being Novgorod and Pskov, located in the north.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boyar</span> Template (table) of early Slavic status

A boyar or bolyar was a member of the highest rank of the feudal nobility in many Eastern European states, including Kievan Rus', Bulgaria, Russia, Wallachia and Moldavia, and later Romania, Lithuania and among Baltic Germans. Boyars were second only to the ruling princes from the 10th century to the 17th century. The rank has lived on as a surname in Russia, Finland, Lithuania and Latvia where it is spelled Pajari or Bajārs/-e.

The Grand Prince of Kiev was the title of the monarch of Kievan Rus', residing in Kiev from the 10th to 13th centuries. In the 13th century, Kiev became an appanage principality first of the grand prince of Vladimir and the Mongol Golden Horde governors, and later was taken over by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vladimir-Suzdal</span> Former East Slavic monarchy

Vladimir-Suzdal, also Vladimir-Suzdalian Rus', formally known as the Grand Duchy of Vladimir (1157–1331), was one of the major principalities that succeeded Kievan Rus' in the late 12th century, centered in Vladimir-on-Klyazma. With time the principality grew into a grand duchy divided into several smaller principalities. After being conquered by the Mongol Empire, the principality became a self-governed state headed by its own nobility. A governorship of principality, however, was prescribed by a jarlig issued from the Golden Horde to a Rurikid sovereign.

<i>Knyaz</i> Template (table) of early Slavic status

Knyaz, kniaz or knez is a historical Slavic title, used both as a royal and noble title in different times of history and different ancient Slavic lands. It is usually translated into English as prince or duke, depending on specific historical context and the potentially known Latin equivalents of the title for each bearer of the name. In Latin sources the title is usually translated as princeps, but the word was originally derived from the common Germanic *kuningaz (king).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christianization of Kievan Rusʹ</span> Historical process in Eastern Europe

The Christianization of Kievan Rus' was a long and complicated process that took place in several stages. In 867, Patriarch Photius of Constantinople told other Christian patriarchs that the Rus' people were converting enthusiastically, but his efforts seem to have entailed no lasting consequences, since the Primary Chronicle and other Slavonic sources describe the tenth-century Rus' as still firmly entrenched in Slavic paganism. The traditional view, as recorded in the Primary Chronicle, is that the definitive Christianization of Kievan Rus' dates happened c. 988, when Vladimir/Volodymyr the Great was baptized in Chersonesus (Korsun) and proceeded to baptize his family and people in Kiev. The latter events are traditionally referred to as baptism of Rus' in Ukrainian and Russian literature.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia</span> Kingdom in Eastern Europe

The Principality or, from 1253, Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, historically known as the Kingdom of Ruthenia, was a medieval state in Eastern Europe which existed from 1199 to 1349. Its territory was predominantly located in modern-day Ukraine, with parts in Belarus, Poland, Moldova, and Lithuania. Along with Novgorod and Vladimir-Suzdal, it was one of the three most important powers to emerge from the collapse of Kievan Rus'. The main language was Old East Slavic, the predecessor of the modern East Slavic languages, and the official religion was Eastern Orthodoxy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andrey Bogolyubsky</span> Russian Grand Prince

Andrew I, his Russian name in full, Andrey Yuryevich Bogolyubsky, was Grand prince of Vladimir-Suzdal from 1157 until his death. Andrey accompanied Yuri I Vladimirovich, his father, on a conquest of Kiev, then led the devastation of the same city in 1169, and oversaw the elevation of Vladimir as the new capital of northeastern Rus'. He was canonized as a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church in 1702.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Novgorod Republic</span> 1136–1478 East Slavic state in northern Europe

The Novgorod Republic was a medieval state that existed from the 12th to 15th centuries, stretching from the Gulf of Finland in the west to the northern Ural Mountains in the east, including the city of Novgorod and the Lake Ladoga regions of modern Russia. The Republic prospered as the easternmost trading post of the Hanseatic League and its Slavic, Baltic and Finnic people were much influenced by the culture of the Viking-Varangians and Byzantine people.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bogatyr</span> East Slavic legendary knights

A bogatyr or vityaz is a stock character in medieval East Slavic legends, akin to a Western European knight-errant. Bogatyrs appear mainly in Rus' epic poems—bylinas. Historically, they came into existence during the reign of Vladimir the Great as part of his elite warriors (druzhina), akin to Knights of the Round Table. Tradition describes bogatyrs as warriors of immense strength, courage and bravery, rarely using magic while fighting enemies in order to maintain the "loosely based on historical fact" aspect of bylinas. They are characterized as having resounding voices, with patriotic and religious pursuits, defending Rus' from foreign enemies and their religion. In modern Russian, the word bogatyr labels a courageous hero, an athlete or a physically strong man.

The Volhynians were an East Slavic tribe of the Early Middle Ages and the Principality of Volhynia in 987–1199.

Mstislav Vladimirovich was the earliest attested prince of Tmutarakan and Chernigov in Kievan Rus'. He was a younger son of Vladimir the Great, Grand Prince of Kiev. His father appointed him to rule Tmutarakan, an important fortress by the Strait of Kerch, in or after 988.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grand Duchy of Moscow</span> Principality of the Late Middle Ages centered around Moscow

The Grand Duchy of Moscow, or simply Muscovy, was a Rus' principality of the Late Middle Ages centered on Moscow, and the predecessor state of the Tsardom of Russia in the early modern period. It was ruled by a branch of the Rurik dynasty, which had reigned in Kievan Rus' since its foundation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rus' people</span> European ethnic group

The Rus' were a people in early medieval eastern Europe. The scholarly consensus holds that they were originally Norsemen, mainly originating from present-day Sweden, who settled and ruled along the river-routes between the Baltic and the Black Seas from around the 8th to 11th centuries AD. In the 9th century, they formed the state of Kievan Rusʹ, where the ruling Norsemen along with local Finnic tribes gradually assimilated into the East Slavic population, with Old East Slavic becoming the common spoken language. Old Norse remained familiar to the elite until their complete assimilation by the second half of the 11th century, and in rural areas, vestiges of Norse culture persisted as late as the 14th and early 15th centuries, particularly in the north.

Rusʹ Khaganate, or kaganate of Rus is a name applied by some modern historians to a polity postulated to have existed during a poorly documented period in the history of Eastern Europe between c. 830 and the 890s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kievan Rus'</span> State in Europe, 879 to 1240

Kievan Rus', also known as Kyivan Rus', was a state and later an amalgam of principalities in Eastern and Northern Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century. Encompassing a variety of polities and peoples, including East Slavic, Norse, and Finnic, it was ruled by the Rurik dynasty, founded by the Varangian prince Rurik. The modern nations of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine all claim Kievan Rus' as their cultural ancestor, with Belarus and Russia deriving their names from it. At its greatest extent in the mid-11th century, Kievan Rus' stretched from the White Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south and from the headwaters of the Vistula in the west to the Taman Peninsula in the east, uniting the East Slavic tribes.

Bolokhovians, Bolokhoveni, also Bolokhovens, were a 13th-century ethnic group that resided in the vicinity of the Rus' principalities of Halych, Volhynia and Kiev, in the territory known as the "Bolokhovian Land" centered at the city of Bolokhov or Bolokhovo. Their ethnic identity is uncertain; although Romanian scholars, basing on their ethnonym identify them as Romanians, archeological evidence and the Hypatian Chronicle suggest that they were a Slavic people. Their princes, or knyazes, were in constant conflict with Daniel of Galicia, Prince of Halych and Volhynia, between 1231 and 1257. After the Mongols sacked Kiev in 1240, the Bolokhovians supplied them with troops, but the Bolokhovian princes fled to Poland. The Bolokhovians disappeared after Daniel defeated them in 1257.

The armies of Rus' can be roughly divided into the Kievan Rus' period, between the 9th to 13th century, mainly characterized by infantry armies of town militia that were supported by druzhina cavalry; and the feudal period from 1240 to 1550, which was distinguished by cavalry armies of noble militia and their armed servants.


  1. "Online Etymology Dictionary". www.etymonline.com. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  2. Zeno. "Drushine". www.zeno.org. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  3. "druzhina - Russian history" . Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  4. "Kievan Rus - historical state" . Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  5. "Druzhina" . Retrieved 13 May 2017 via The Free Dictionary.
  6. "Ibrāhīm ibn Ya‛qūb al-Isrā’īlī al-Ṭurṭūshī," by Lutz Richter-Bernburg, in: The Oxford Companion to World Exploration, David Buisseret, editor-in-chief, 2 vols., Oxford UP 2007, I:402b-403b

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Druzhina at Wikimedia Commons

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (in Russian). 1906.{{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)