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Knyaz 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, duke or count, 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 comes or princeps , but the word was originally derived from the Proto-Germanic * kuningaz (king).
The female form transliterated from Bulgarian and Russian is knyaginya (княгиня), kneginja in Slovene and Serbo-Croatian (Serbian Cyrillic: кнегиња). In Russian, the daughter of a knyaz is knyazhna (княжна). In Russian, the son of a knyaz is knyazhich (княжич in its old form).
The title is pronounced and written similarly in different European languages. In Serbo-Croatian and some West Slavic languages, the word has later come to denote "lord", and in Czech, Polish and Slovak also came to mean "priest" (kněz, ksiądz, kňaz) as well as "duke" (knez, kníže, książę, knieža).In Sorbian it means simply "Mister" (from "Master". Compare French monsieur from mon sieur "my lord"). Today the term knez is still used as the most common translation of "prince" in Slovenian, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian literature. Knez is also found as a surname in former Yugoslavia.
The etymology is ultimately a cognate of the English king, the German König, and the Swedish konung. The proto-Slavic form was кънѧѕь, kŭnędzĭ; : кънѧѕь, kŭnędzĭ; Bulgarian : княз, knyaz; Old East Slavic : князь, knyazĭ; Polish : książę; Serbo-Croatian : knez / кнез; Czech : kníže; Slovak : knieža; etc., as it could be a very early borrowing from the already extinct Proto-Germanic Kuningaz , a form also borrowed by Finnish and Estonian (kuningas).Church Slavonic
The meaning of the term changed over the course of history. Initially the term was used to denote the chieftain of a Slavic tribe. Later, with the development of feudal statehood, it became the title of a ruler of a state, and among East Slavs (Russian : княжество (kniazhestvo), Ukrainian : князівство (knyazivstvo) traditionally translated as duchy or principality), for example, of Kievan Rus'. In medieval Latin sources the title was rendered as either rex or dux . In Bulgaria, Boris I of Bulgaria changed his title to knyaz after his conversion to Christianity, but his son Simeon took the higher title of tsar soon in 913. In Kievan Rus', as the degree of centralization grew, the ruler acquired the title Velikii Knyaz (Великий Князь) (translated as Grand Prince or Grand Duke, see Russian Grand Dukes). He ruled a Velyke Knyazivstvo (Велике Князiвcтво) (Grand Duchy), while a ruler of its vassal constituent (udel, udelnoe knyazivstvo or volost ) was called udelny knyaz or simply knyaz.
When Kievan Rus' became fragmented in the 13th century, the title Kniaz continued to be used in East Slavic states, including Kiev, Chernihiv, Novgorod, Pereiaslav, Vladimir-Suzdal', Muscovy, Tver, Halych-Volynia, and in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
As the Tsardom of Russia gained dominion over much of former Kievan Rus', Velikii Kniaz (Великий Князь) (Great Kniaz) Ivan IV of Russia in 1547 was crowned as Tsar. From the mid-18th century onwards, the title Velikii Kniaz was revived to refer to (male-line) sons and grandsons of Russian Emperors. See titles for Tsar's family for details.
Kniaz (Russian : князь, IPA: [ˈknʲæsʲ] ) continued as a hereditary title of Russian nobility patrilineally descended from Rurik (e.g., Belozersky, Belosselsky-Belozersky, Repnin, Gorchakov) or Gediminas (e.g., Galitzine, Troubetzkoy). Members of Rurikid or Gedyminid families were called princes when they ruled tiny quasi-sovereign medieval principalities. After their demesnes were absorbed by Muscovy, they settled at the Moscow court and were authorised to continue with their princely titles.
From the 18th century onwards, the title was occasionally granted by the Tsar, for the first time by Peter the Great to his associate Alexander Menshikov, and then by Catherine the Great to her lover Grigory Potemkin. After 1801, with the incorporation of Georgia into the Russian Empire, various titles of numerous local nobles were controversially rendered in Russian as "kniazes". Similarly, many petty Tatar nobles asserted their right to style themselves "kniazes" because they descended from Genghis Khan.
Finally, within the Russian Empire of 1809–1917, Finland was officially called Grand Principality of Finland (Finnish : Suomen suuriruhtinaskunta, Swedish : Storfurstendömet Finland, Russian : Великое Княжество Финляндское, romanized: Velikoye Knyazhestvo Finlyandskoye).
As noted above, the title knyaz or kniaz became a hereditary noble title in the Grand Duchy of Moscow and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Following the union of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, kniaź became a recognised title in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. By the 1630s – apart from the title pan, which indicated membership of the large szlachta noble class – kniaź was the only hereditary title that was officially recognised and officially used in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Notable holders of the title kniaź include Jeremi Wiśniowiecki.
In the 19th century, the Serbian term knez (кнез) and the Bulgarian term knyaz (княз) were revived to denote semi-independent rulers of those countries, such as Alexander Karađorđević and Alexander of Battenberg. In parts of Serbia and western Bulgaria, knez was the informal title of the elder or mayor of a village or zadruga until around the 19th century. Those are officially called gradonačelnik (градоначелник) (Serbia) and gradonachalnik (градоначалник) or kmet (кмет) (Bulgaria).
In medieval Bosnia knez was title held by several of most powerful magnates (in Bosnia vlastelin) of the era, sometime along with an office title given to person through service to the monarch, such as Grand Duke of Bosnia, which was office of the supreme military commander of the realm. Other noble titles included the count , the duke and the prince . Among most influential of Bosnian nobleman with the title knez was Pavle Radinović of Radinović-Pavlović noble family.
A prince is a male ruler or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. Prince is also a title of nobility, often hereditary, in some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess. The English word derives, via the French word prince, from the Latin noun princeps, from primus (first) and capio, meaning "the chief, most distinguished, ruler, prince".
Grand duke is a European hereditary title for either certain monarchs or members of certain monarchs' families. It is traditionally ranked in order of precedence below the title of emperor, king or archduke and above that of sovereign prince or sovereign duke. It is used in some current and former independent monarchies in Europe, particularly:
A boyar was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Wallachian, Moldavian, and later Romanian and Baltic states aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes from the 10th century to the 17th century. The rank has lived on as a surname in Russia, Romania, Finland, Lithuania and Latvia where it is spelled Pajari or Bajāri'.
A grand duchy is a country or territory whose official head of state or ruler is a monarch bearing the title of grand duke or grand duchess.
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 Khan declaration (jarlig) issued from the Golden Horde to a noble family of any of smaller principalities.
Zachlumia or Zachumlia, also Hum, was a medieval principality located in the modern-day regions of Herzegovina and southern Dalmatia. In some periods it was a fully independent or semi-independent South Slavic principality. It maintained relations with various foreign and neighbouring powers and later was subjected to Kingdom of Hungary, Kingdom of Serbia, Kingdom of Bosnia, Duchy of Saint Sava and at the end to the Ottoman Empire.
The Šubić family was one of the Twelve noble tribes of Croatia and a great noble house which constituted Croatian statehood in the Middle Ages. They held the county of Bribir (Varvaria) in inland Dalmatia. From them branched prominent Zrinski family.
Grand prince or great prince is a title of nobility ranked in honour below king and emperor and above a sovereign prince, and debatably ranked below an archduke.
Boris, Borys or Barys is a male name of Bulgar origin. Nowadays, it is most widely represented in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Grand, Great or Chief Župan is the English rendering of a South Slavic title which relate etymologically to Župan like a Russian Grand Prince to a Knyaz.
Jogaila, later Władysław II Jagiełło (ca.1351/1361–1434), was a Grand Duke of Lithuania and from 1386 Queen Jadwiga's husband and jure uxoris King of Poland. In Lithuania, he held the title Didysis Kunigaikštis, translated as Grand Duke or Grand Prince.
The Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography is Croatia's national lexicographical institution. Based in Zagreb, it was originally established in 1950 as the national lexicographical institute of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It was renamed after the Croatian writer and its founder Miroslav Krleža in 1983.
The Grand Duchy of Moscow,Muscovite Russia, Muscovite Rus' or Grand Principality of Moscow was a Rus' principality of the Late Middle Ages centered around Moscow, and the predecessor state of the Tsardom of Russia in the early modern period.
Shakhovskoy is the name of a princely Russian and Ukrainian family descending from the Rurik Dynasty, and as such, one of the oldest noble families of Russia. Most members of the family fled Russia in 1917 during the Russian Revolution.
Tsar, also spelled czar, or tzar or csar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally the Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards, much later a title for two rulers of the Serbian State, and from 1547 the supreme ruler of the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire. In this last capacity it lends its name to a system of government, tsarist autocracy or tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word caesar, which was intended to mean "emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official —but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.
Grand Duke of Vladimir was a prince during the Kievan Rus' and after its collapse. He ruled territory approximately bounded by the Volga, Oka and Northern Dvina rivers. Its capital was Vladimir during 1157-1238. Vladimir city was founded by a Kievan prince Vladimir Monomakh in 1108 and was destroyed by a Mongol invasion in 1238. The second important city was Suzdal', also destroyed by Mongols. The Grand Duke Yuri Dolgorukii, the seventh son of Vladimir Monomakh, began the lineage of Suzdal' and Vladimir-Suzdal' great princes. Vladimir-Suzdal' began the next consolidation of Russian lands, completed by Muscovy, which grew from within Vladimir-Suzdal.
The Kačić family was one of the most influential Croatian noble families, and was one of the Croatian "twelve noble tribes" described in the Pacta conventa and Supetar Cartulary. The historical sources refer to members of this family as nobles in the area of the Luka županija in the Zadar-Biograd hinterland, as the lords (knezes) of Omiš, and as the lords of the Makarska Riviera. Another prominent branch of the family, Kacsics, was part of the Hungarian nobility and from it branched many families including Szécsényi.
Grgur Kurjaković or Gregory of Corbavia, was a Croatian knez (count) of Krbava, one of the most notable Croatian magnates, in the service of the Hungarian kings.