Boyar

Boyar

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A boyar, or bolyar was a member of the highest rank of the feudal
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 Moscovian
Grand Duchy of Moscow
The Grand Duchy of Moscow or Grand Principality of Moscow, also known in English simply as Muscovy , was a late medieval Rus' principality centered on Moscow, and the predecessor state of the early modern Tsardom of Russia....

, Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

ian, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

n, Wallachia
Wallachia
Wallachia or Walachia is a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated north of the Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians...

n, and Moldavia
Moldavia
Moldavia is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river...

n aristocracies
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

, second only to the ruling princes
Knyaz
Kniaz, knyaz or knez is a Slavic title found in most Slavic languages, denoting a royal nobility rank. It is usually translated into English as either Prince or less commonly as Duke....

 (in Bulgaria, tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

s), from the 10th century through the 17th century.
The rank has lived on as a surname in Russia and Finland, where it is spelled Pajari.

Etymology


According to most sources, the word is of Proto-Bulgarian origin. Some believe that it is composed of the roots bai ("noble, rich") and är. Another possibility is that the word originated from the Bulgarian title boila ("noble"), which is attested in Bulgar inscriptions and rendered as boilades or boliades in the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 of Byzantine documents. This title certainly did enter Old Russian as быля (bylya).

Boyars in Bulgaria


The oldest Slavic
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

 form of boyarbolyarin, pl. bolyari —dates from the 10th century, and it is found in Bulgaria
Second Bulgarian Empire
The Second Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state which existed between 1185 and 1396 . A successor of the First Bulgarian Empire, it reached the peak of its power under Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II before gradually being conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th-early 15th century...

, where it may have stemmed from the old Bulgar
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

 title boila, which denoted a high aristocratic status among the Bulgars. It was probably transformed through boilar or bilyar to bolyar and bolyarin. In support of this hypothesis is the 10th-century diplomatic protocol of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII
Constantine VII
Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos or Porphyrogenitus, "the Purple-born" was the fourth Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, reigning from 913 to 959...

, where the Bulgarian nobles are called boliades, while the 9th-century Bulgar sources call them boila.

A member of the nobility during the First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

 was called a boila, while in the Second Bulgarian Empire
Second Bulgarian Empire
The Second Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state which existed between 1185 and 1396 . A successor of the First Bulgarian Empire, it reached the peak of its power under Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II before gradually being conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th-early 15th century...

, the corresponding title became bolyar or bolyarin. Bolyar, as well as its predecessor, boila, was a hereditary title. The Bulgarian bolyars were divided into veliki ("great") and malki ("minor").

Presently in Bulgaria, the word bolyari is used as a nickname for the inhabitants of Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province. Often referred to as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists...

—once the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

Boyars in Serbia


In medieval Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, the rank of the Boyars (Serbian
Serbian language
Serbian is a form of Serbo-Croatian, a South Slavic language, spoken by Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and neighbouring countries....

: Боjари, Bojari) was equivalent to the rank of the Baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

; meaning "free warrior" (or "free man" in general), it was the first rank after the non-free peasants
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

 or serfs
SERF
A spin exchange relaxation-free magnetometer is a type of magnetometer developed at Princeton University in the early 2000s. SERF magnetometers measure magnetic fields by using lasers to detect the interaction between alkali metal atoms in a vapor and the magnetic field.The name for the technique...

. The etymology of the term comes from the word battle (Serbian
Serbian language
Serbian is a form of Serbo-Croatian, a South Slavic language, spoken by Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and neighbouring countries....

: бој, boj); the Boyars of Serbia were literally "men for the battle" or the warrior class, in contrast to the peasants
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

; they could own land but were obliged to defend it and fight for the king. With the rule of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 after 1450, the Ottoman as well as the Austro-Hungarian terms exchanged the Serbian one. Today, it is an archaic term representing the aristocracy (Serbian
Serbian language
Serbian is a form of Serbo-Croatian, a South Slavic language, spoken by Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and neighbouring countries....

: племство, lemstvo).

Boyars in the lands of Kievan Rus'


Boyars wielded considerable power through their military support of the Kievan
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 princes. Power and prestige of many of them, however, soon came to depend almost completely on service to the state, family history of service and, to a lesser extent, landownership. Ukrainian and "Ruthenian" boyars were visually very similar to Western knights, but after the Mongol invasion, their cultural links were mostly lost.

The boyars occupied the highest state offices and, through a council (Duma
Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

), advised the Grand Duke. They received extensive grants of land and, as members of the Boyars' Duma, were the major legislators of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

.

After the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, the boyars from central and southern parts of Kievan Rus' (modern Belarus and Ukraine) were incorporated into Lithuanian and Polish nobility (szlachta
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

). In the 14th and 15th centuries, many of those Ukrainian boyars who failed to get the status of a nobleman actively participated in the formation of the Cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

 army, based in the south of modern Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

.

Boyars in Muscovy


In Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 in the 14th and 15th centuries, the boyars retained their influence. However, as the knyaz
Knyaz
Kniaz, knyaz or knez is a Slavic title found in most Slavic languages, denoting a royal nobility rank. It is usually translated into English as either Prince or less commonly as Duke....

es of Muscovy consolidated their power, the influence of the boyars was gradually eroded, particularly under Ivan III and Ivan IV.

Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Ivan IV "Ivan the Terrible
Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV Vasilyevich , known in English as Ivan the Terrible , was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres,...

" severely restricted the boyars' powers during the 16th century. Their ancient right to leave the service of one prince for another was curtailed, as was their right to hold land without giving obligatory service to the tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

.

The Boyar Duma expanded from around 30 people to around 100 in the 17th century and was finally abolished by Tsar Peter the Great
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

 in 1711 in his extensive reforms of government and administration.

Boyars in Wallachia and Moldavia


In the Carpathian regions inhabited by Romanians, the boyar class emerged from the chiefs (named cneaz ("knight") or jude ("judge") in the areas north of the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 and celnic south of the river) of rural communities in the early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

, initially elected, who later made their judicial and administrative attributions hereditary and gradually expanded them upon other communities. After the appearance of more advanced political structures in the area, their privileged status had to be confirmed by the central power, which used this prerogative to include in the boyar class individuals that distinguished themselves in the military or civilian functions they performed (by allocating them lands from the princely domains).

The boyar condition


The Romanian social hierarchy was composed of boyar, mazil, and răzeş. Being a boyar implied three things: being a land-owner, having serfs and having a military and/or administrative function. A boyar could have a state function and/or a court function. These functions were called "dregătorie" or "boierie". Only the prince had the power to assign a boierie. Landowners with serfs but no function were categorized as mazil but were still considered to be of noble origin (din os boieresc, which translates literally as "of boyar bones"). Small landowners who possessed a domain without distinction (devălmăşie) or serfs were called "răzeşi". According to some historians, they were descendants of mazil landowners.

Origin


Although functions could only be accorded by the prince and were not hereditary, land possession was hereditary. The prince could give land to somebody but could not take it from its possessor except for serious reasons such as treason. Therefore, there were two kinds of boyars: those whose ancestors, as chiefs of the ancient rural communities, had held land before the formation of the feudal states, such that the prince merely confirmed their preexisting status as landowners; and those who acquired their domain from a princely donation or who had inherited it from an ancestor who acquired it through such a donation (cf. the distinction between Uradel
Uradel
The German and Scandinavian term Uradel refers to nobility who can trace back their noble ancestry at least to the year 1400 and probably originates from leadership positions during the Migration Period.-Divisions of German nobility:Uradel : Nobility that originates from leadership positions held...

and Briefadel in the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 and in its feudal successor regimes). During thePhanariot régime, there were also boyars who had no land at all, but only a function. This way, the number of boyars could be increased, by selling functions to those who could afford them.

Hierarchy



The close alliance between the boyar condition and the military-administrative functions led to a confusion, aggravated by the Phanariots: these functions began to be considered as noble titles, like in the Occident. In fact, this was not at all the case. Traditionally, the boyars were organized in three states: boyars of the first state, of the second state and of the third state. For example, there was a first or a grand postelnic
Postelnic
Postelnic was a historical rank traditionally held by boyars in Moldavia and Wallachia, roughly corresponding to the position of chamberlain...

, a second postelnic, and a third postelnic, each one with his different obligations and rights. The difference of condition was visible even in the vestimentation or physical aspect. Only the boyars of the first state had the right, for example, to grow a beard
Beard
A beard is the collection of hair that grows on the chin, cheeks and neck of human beings. Usually, only pubescent or adult males are able to grow beards. However, women with hirsutism may develop a beard...

, the rest being entitled only to a mustache. Within the class of the boyars of the first state, there was the subclass of the "grand boyars". Those were great landowners who also had some very high functions, such as the function of great vornic. Above those grand boyars was only the prince.

The prince


Usually a prince was a boyar before his election or appointment as prince, but this was not a condition sine qua non
Sine qua non
Sine qua non or condicio sine qua non refers to an indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient...

. Initially, only princiary descendants could be elected princes. During the Phanariot epoch, however, any man could be a prince if appointed by the Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 (and rich enough to buy this appointment from the Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier, in Turkish Vezir-i Azam or Sadr-ı Azam , deriving from the Arabic word vizier , was the greatest minister of the Sultan, with absolute power of attorney and, in principle, dismissable only by the Sultan himself...

). During the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 suzerainty, and especially during the Phanariot régime, the title of Prince became an administrative function within the imperial Ottoman hierarchy, and thus the ultimate form of boyardness. The title of Prince of Wallachia or Moldavia was equivalent in dignity to that of a pasha with two horse-tails.

Cultural references


Norwegian composer Johan Halvorsen
Johan Halvorsen
Johan Halvorsen was a Norwegian composer, conductor and violinist.-Biography:Born in Drammen, Norway he was an accomplished violinist from a very early age and became a prominent figure in Norwegian musical life...

 wrote a march entitled "Bojarenes inntogsmarsj" ("Entry March of the Boyars
Entry March of the Boyars
Entry March of the Boyars is an orchestral composition by the Norwegian Johan Halvorsen from 1893. It belongs to the most popular works of the composer, and became quickly an international success....

"), known in Norway as the signal tune for the radio programme Ønskekonserten. Edvard Grieg
Edvard Grieg
Edvard Hagerup Grieg was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor, for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt , and for his collection of piano miniatures Lyric Pieces.-Biography:Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born in...

 arranged it for solo piano. August Strindberg
August Strindberg
Johan August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg's career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over 60 plays and more than 30 works of fiction, autobiography,...

 requests that this piece be played during his play The Dance of Death, Part One.

Boyars are characters in the game Warhammer Fantasy
Warhammer Fantasy
Warhammer Fantasy is a fantasy setting, created by Games Workshop, which is used by many of the company's games. Some of the best-known games set in this world are: the table top wargame Warhammer Fantasy Battle, the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay pen-and-paper role-playing game, and the MMORPG...

. They appear in the Kislev
Kislev (Warhammer)
In the Warhammer Fantasy setting, Kislev is the name of a Slavic/Kievan Rus'-themed fictional country that sits northeast of The Empire, between it and the Realm of Chaos. Between Kislev and Norsca lies Troll Country, while beyond that lie the magic-tainted Chaos Wastes...

 army, which is based on medieval Poland/Russia.

Boyar sons are featured as a military unit for the Novgorod faction in the 2006 strategy game Medieval II: Total War.

Shadows of Darkness, the fourth game in the Quest For Glory
Quest for Glory
Quest for Glory is a series of hybrid role-playing/adventure computer games designed by Corey and Lori Ann Cole. The series combined humor, puzzle elements, themes and characters borrowed from various legends, puns, and memorable characters, creating a 5-part series of the Sierra stable.Although...

series of adventure games, makes reference to the late boyars who ruled the valley of Mordavia, but who have long since died in the time when the game takes place.

In TaleWorlds
TaleWorlds
TaleWorlds Entertainment is an independent game development company located in Ankara, Turkey. TaleWorlds is an official brand of İkisoft Software Company. They have been developing PC games under the brand "TaleWorlds Entertainment" since 2005...

' historical fantasy role-playing video game Mount&Blade: Warband, the lords of the Kingdom of Vaegirs, a fictitious kingdom inspired by Slavic cultures, are titled Boyars.

External links