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Kniaz: King or Prince?

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  • E D
    I ll retract the Pict-Scythian theory connnection. I read on a site that the Romans said that the Picts resembled people in the Iberian Peninsula. KNIAZ: KING
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 7, 2001
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      I'll retract the Pict-Scythian theory connnection. I read on a site that
      the Romans said that the Picts resembled people in the Iberian Peninsula.

      KNIAZ: KING OR PRINCE?

      IN THE HISTORICAL PERIOD of 860-1240 A.D. the ruler of state of Rus, with
      its capital of Kiev, was called Kniaz. In Western Ukraine the ruler of the
      Halych-Volyn state was called Korol. Some writers consider Korol as King but
      Kniaz as the lesser title, Prince. Many historians in the Western world
      writing about the history of Rus, Ukraine and Russia have been faced with
      the problem of what title should be used for the ruler of Kievan
      Rus(pronounced ruce).
      Many historians have chosen the title Grand Prince which is meaningless as
      a title in the English language for such a huge state as Rus in the year
      1050. Other writers have chosen the term Grand Duke but this also is not a
      satisfactory title since Rus was not a Duchy like Lithuania. In fact, in the
      English language neither Grand Prince nor Grand Duke reflects the reality of
      Rus.
      A thousand years ago the state of Rus, or Ruthenia, the predecessor of
      Ukraine, was an independent state and the largest in Europe. In fact, Rus
      itself was actually an Empire since it ruled over foreign peoples but nor
      foreign states. The monarch of Kiev was independent and the senior member of
      the royal family which ruled the huge territory of Rus. Although somtimes
      called the Rurik Dynasty in fact no satisfactory evidence of the existence
      of Rurik exists so the founder of the Kiev Royal Family is actually Kniaz
      Oleh in 900 A.D.

      DEFINITION OF PRINCE

      According to the Oxford Dictionary a Prince is: a male member of a royal
      family other than a reigning king; a son or grandson of a British monarch; a
      ruler of a small state, actually or nominally subject to a king or emperor;
      a noble usually ranking next below a duke. It is ovious from this definition
      that the word Prince is entirely inappropriate for the independent ruler of
      such a huge state as Rus. If we take the normal meaning of Prince in
      English, for example that Prince (Saint) Vladimir is the "son of the
      sovereign," who is the ruler higher than Kiev's monarch?
      To use the word Prince for the ruler of Rus does not reflect the size,
      importance or power of Rus. Everyone in the English speaking world knows
      that neither Prince Philip nor Prince Charles is the ruler of England today.
      Both of them are junior to Queen Elizabeth II, who incidentally, has as an
      ancestor King Volodymyr Monomakh of Kiev. If we discard the word Prince or
      the meaningless Grand Prince as titles we are left with only one choice
      which reflects the ruler of Rus: KING.

      DEFINITION OF KING

      A King, according to Webster's Dictionary, is "a male monarch of a major
      territorial unit; especially one whose position is hereditary and who rules
      for life."
      It is obvious that King is the best word in English to reflect the actual
      meaning of Kniaz as the ruler of Kiev and Rus. King, in fact, is a cognate
      of the word Kniaz according to the lexicographer Alexander Gregorovich. What
      then do we do with Velyky Kniaz? Velyky Kniaz it appears existed but was not
      a formal title in Kievan Rus, it has come into popular use only in recent
      centuries long after Rus disappeared. We simply use King as its equivalent
      for the ruler in the capital Kiev. As a result the rulers of all the
      principalities that constituted the Rus Kingdom then become Princes.
      We should not forget that all Europe considered Yaroslav the Wise as the
      King of the Kingdom of Rus. King Yaroslav, who ruled 1019-1054, himself
      married the daughter of King Olaf of Sweden and later the Daughter of the
      Byzanitne Emperor. Seven of King Yaroslav's children were married into the
      Royal Families of Europe. Three of Yaroslav's daughters, princesses of Kiev,
      became queens: Queen Anna of France. Queen Anastasia of Hungary and Queen
      Elizabeth of Norway. In conclusion, then, it is obvious that the state
      centered on Kiev was the Kingdom of Rus and its rulers were Kings. This
      title reflects most accurately the status, size and character of the
      Medieval Rus state of Ukraine.
      A.G.


      Works Cited

      Gregorovich, Andrew. "Kniaz: King or Prince." Forum-A Ukrainian Review
      winter, 1999: 34.

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    • Sonny Cline
      Hello E D, I would like permission to re-post your email in full minus of course the first paragraph : I ll retract the Pict-Scythian theory connection. I
      Message 2 of 6 , Oct 7, 2001
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        Hello E D,
        I would like permission to re-post your email in full minus of course the
        first paragraph :

        "I'll retract the Pict-Scythian theory connection. I read on a site that
        the Romans said that the Picts resembled people in the Iberian Peninsula."
        I can either leave or take out you email address; your decision.
        I would like to re-post it as information to another yahoo.groups:

        Crimea_Cities ยท Simferopol_Sevastopol_Yalta_Crimea
        A point of contact group for those interested in the Krymska Oblast in the
        Ukraine. I have listed the more major cities of Simferopol; Sevastopol;
        Yalta only because these are the most visited cities in the Krymska Oblast
        but there are many other smaller cities of interest in the area as well.
        Strictly speaking it addresses Kyiv but I believe any accurate knowledge
        regarding Kyiv or any thing factual about the Ukraine needs to be seen by as
        many as possible.
        Sincerely,
        William R Cline Jr..
        (Sonny Cline)
        Southern Indiana
        -----Original Message-----
        From: E D <White_Croat@...>
        Subject: [sig] Kniaz: King or Prince?


        " I'll retract the Pict-Scythian theory connnection. I read on a site that
        the Romans said that the Picts resembled people in the Iberian Peninsula.

        KNIAZ: KING OR PRINCE? "
      • Jenn/Yana
        I m sorry, but the author s argument is basically specious. A kniaz is a ruler of a kniazhestvo. A king is a ruler of a kingdom A prince is a ruler of a
        Message 3 of 6 , Oct 7, 2001
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          I'm sorry, but the author's argument is basically specious.

          A kniaz is a ruler of a kniazhestvo.
          A king is a ruler of a kingdom
          A prince is a ruler of a principality

          As long as Rus is considered a "principality," its ruler is properly called
          a "prince."

          It is no denigration against the ruler, the terminology is contextual. I'm
          surprised that
          an academic journal would have given the argument credance (even in a
          forum) as it
          is (at best) an argument about semantics. Calling the ruler of Rus a
          "prince" in no way implies
          that he was the equal of a prince of England or France (which had kingdoms).

          And citing the Webster's Dictionary for a translation query is as
          meaningless as consulting
          an almanac of sea tides when flying a plane. Dictionaries explain the
          meaning of words
          for native speakers, translations attempt to approximate a similar meaning
          across cultures.
          If you want to capture the true meaning of the word "kniaz," then don't
          translate it. It is impossible
          in a translation to capture the full meaning of a word.

          -- Paul (posting on Yana's account)

          At 10:24 AM 10/7/2001, you wrote:
          >KNIAZ: KING OR PRINCE?
          >
        • Jenn/Yana
          One more thought: Why do you suppose that Machiavelli called his famous book on leadership, The Prince ( Il Principe in its original title)? He certainly
          Message 4 of 6 , Oct 7, 2001
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            One more thought:

            Why do you suppose that Machiavelli called his famous book on leadership,
            "The Prince" ("Il Principe" in its
            original title)? He certainly was not writing a book of advice for people
            who were second to
            their thrones, even though there were Kingdoms in Italy at his time as well
            (and their rulers were called
            "king" [re]).

            -- Paul

            At 10:24 AM 10/7/2001, you wrote:
            >KNIAZ: KING OR PRINCE?
            >
            >IN THE HISTORICAL PERIOD of 860-1240 A.D. the ruler of state of Rus, with
            >its capital of Kiev, was called Kniaz. In Western Ukraine the ruler of the
            >Halych-Volyn state was called Korol. Some writers consider Korol as King but
            >Kniaz as the lesser title, Prince. Many historians in the Western world
            >writing about the history of Rus, Ukraine and Russia have been faced with
            >the problem of what title should be used for the ruler of Kievan
            >Rus(pronounced ruce).
          • Jeff Smith
            Hey there! ... [lotta snipping here] ... [totally irrelevent...grand prince is not a prince] ... [also irrelevent, grand prince is not a king either] Paul put
            Message 5 of 6 , Oct 8, 2001
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              Hey there!

              --- E D <White_Croat@...> wrote:

              > KNIAZ: KING OR PRINCE?

              [lotta snipping here]

              > DEFINITION OF PRINCE

              [totally irrelevent...grand prince is not a prince]

              > DEFINITION OF KING

              [also irrelevent, grand prince is not a king either]

              Paul put it best...you can't compare, but if you
              really want to, find out what a "GRAND PRINCE" is.

              Emperor, King, Grand Prince, and Grand Duke are unique
              titles, as they cannot be held by someone who does not
              actually own the land. (Example, when the Grand Duchy
              of Baden, near my home, was dissolved, the man who
              would have been Grand Duke became a Count; the man who
              would have been King of Wuerttemberg, also nearby,
              became a Duke.) These are very high titles, not to be
              confused with Prince and Duke, which are subordinate
              titles (usually) and which titles can be used without
              ownership of the land associated with them. Grand
              Princes and Dukes are called "royal highness",
              implying, well, "royalness".

              A website I found lists these titles:
              tsar - Emperor
              tsaritsa - Empress
              velikii kniaz - Grand Duke
              velikaia kniaginia - Grand Duchess
              kniaz (Prince) - kniaz
              graf (Count) - graf
              kniaz (Duke) - kniaz
              baron - baron
              (http://libweb.princeton.edu/katmandu/sgman/noble.html)

              Note that they translate kniaz as 'prince' in one
              place and as a 'duke' somewhere else.

              Grand Prince is usually used for Russians, and Grand
              Duke for Germans and Italians, as a convention.

              Like Paul, I think it would be unwise to fret over a
              translation. They are always somewhat haphazard, and
              seldom translate directly.

              Janos

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            • MHoll@aol.com
              In a message dated 10/8/2001 4:40:45 PM Central Daylight Time, ... First, I am not contesting what Janos said, and I fully agree with Paul. The issue of the
              Message 6 of 6 , Oct 8, 2001
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                In a message dated 10/8/2001 4:40:45 PM Central Daylight Time,
                janos@... writes:


                > Emperor, King, Grand Prince, and Grand Duke are unique
                > titles, as they cannot be held by someone who does not
                > actually own the land.

                First, I am not contesting what Janos said, and I fully agree with Paul. The
                issue of the meaning of "kniaz" was not stated properly. There is one more
                reason why: the meaning of the word (and power/authority associated with it)
                varied quite a bit over time (imperial titles, which is what Janos was
                quoting, have nothing to do with medieval titles).

                Just a little comment: as for land *ownership*, it's more complicated than
                that. In medieval Russia, before and during the Mongol era, kniaz'ia (plural
                of kniaz) ruled over certain lands, owned some in their own (personal) right,
                and ordinary Russians could also own lands, free of the kniaz's authority,
                except for taxes, military defense, judicial authority, etc -- pretty much
                the modern concept of ownership.

                The kniaz'ia could move from one land to another, fight over rulership of
                this or that land (some lands had more prestige, and therefore their rulers
                had more authority), levy taxes (as set by law), etc. So technically, what
                made a kniaz a kniaz was 1) inheritance (it's a patrilinear title), 2)
                rulership (but not ownership) or a land, 3) how good they were at keeping 1)
                (staying alive) and 2) (not being overrun by neighbors).

                The best explanation of the system I've read is by Janet Martin, _Medieval
                Russia_. I recommend the book, even though it's a bit of a dry read; it is,
                after all, a textbook.


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