Russian Alternate Titles List Revision Submission – 2008

I have transliterated Russian words using the Library of Congress transliteration system to correspond to the usage in Paul Wickenden's Dictionary of Period Russian Names, although I normally prefer a different transliteration scheme. In places where I am directly quoting someone else's transliteration/translation, I have kept the original spelling in the quotation. Also note that the term "boyar" has been adopted as an English word, so when I'm translating I'll use "boyar", but when I'm transliterating the Russian word into the Latin alphabet, I'll use "boiarin."

Current Russian
Revised Russian
Additional SCA Titles
Suggested Russian
Velikii Kniaz

Velikaia Kniaginia

Territorial Prince
Territorial Princess









"my lord"/"my lady"/
"good gentles"
Court Baron
Court Baroness
GoA level Lord
Dvorianin Bolshoi/
Syn Boiarskii
GoA level Lady
Dvorianka Bolshaia/
Doch Boiarskaia

The current list uses tsar and tsaritsa. I recommend velikii kniaz and velikaia kniaginia instead.

The title of tsar was not used by the Russian ruler until Ivan III (reigned 1462-1505), and it wasn’t until his grandson, Ivan IV, was crowned “tsar” in 1547 that the title became an official part of the style of the Russian sovereign. [Solov'ev, Mackenzie & Curran]

From Rozn:
(1537) We great Sovereign [velikii Gosudar'] Ivan', by the grace of God Sovereign [Gosudar'] of all Rus and grand prince [velikii kniaz']...
(1545) We Great Sovereign [Velikii Gosudar'] Ivan', by the grace of God the one right Sovereign [Gosudar'] of all Rus…
(1556) We great sovereign Ivan', by the grace of God tsar and grand prince [velikii kniaz"] of all Rus… [Rozn]

The title “velikii kniaz” was used as the primary title of the Russian sovereign for the majority of SCA period.

Russian Primary Chronicle, year 911 (6419):
"We from the Russian people… [names of ambassadors omitted] sent from Oleg, Russian grand prince [velikii kniaz]… "

The title “velikii knyaz” continued to be used prominently by the Russian sovereign even after the adoption of the title “tsar”.

In 1604, Boris Godunov styled himself: “By the grace of God Great Sovereign Tsar and Grand Prince [Velikii Kniaz] Boris Fedorovich of all Russia Autocrat…”

Since the title velikii kniaz/velikaya kniaginia was used by the Russian sovereign from Kievan through Muscovite period, I would propose it instead of “tsar” which was only used consistently by the Russian sovereign for the last 50 or so years of SCA period.

Crown Prince/Princess
If velikii kniaz and velikaya kniaginia are accepted for their majesties, then the royal heirs should be the kniazhich (literally “son of the kniaz”) and kniazhna (“daughter of the kniaz”).

Kniazhich/Kniazhna provides a distinction from the titles of kniaz/kniaginia which are used for Royal Peers.

Russian Primary Chronicle, Year 882 [6390] - "He thus came to the foot of the hill... representing himself as a stranger on his way to Greece on an errand for Oleg and for Igor, the prince's son [kniazhich Igor]..." [Solov'ev]

In 1573, Livland king Magnus married the tsar's niece, daughter of kniaz Vladimir Andreevich, and the wedding descriptions says, "and the princess [kniazhna] was to be betrothed and to be married by the Dmitrovksij priest..." [Solov'ev]

Territorial Prince/Princess
Part of official SCA rank scheme but not addressed in the current alternate titles list.

Period usage indicates that they should be called kniaz/kniaginia. The rulers of principalities such as Kiev, Chernigov, Galich, Ryazan, etc. were all called “kniaz” and were officially subordinate to the velikii kniaz.

Novgorod Chronicle, 1165 [6673] "... under Svyatoslav, Kniaz of Novgorod..."

Royal Peers (dukes, duchesses, counts, countesses, etc.)
No change to current alternate titles.

I would propose adding masteritsa to the alternate titles list as the feminine form. I have found the term twice in the Domostroi (in sections that date to the mid-1500s).
Chapter 51 - “and table leftovers of the mistress [gosudarynia] to the seamstresses [masteritsami] and embroiderers” [Pouncy]
Chapter 58 - "...for artisans [masterov] and for seamstresses [masterits] and for apprenticies [vuchenikov]..." [Pouncy]

Note that Pouncy translates both "master" and "masteritsa" with fairly lowly English terms. The Novgorod Primary Chronicle refers to "masters" with more respect.

The lack of a feminine form on the current list is odd, since nearly every other Russian title has a feminine equivalent, even in the most male-dominated occupations, if only for the wife of the title-holder, eg. popad’ia means “priest’s wife” according to the 3rd Edition of Paul Wickenden’s Dictionary of Period Russian Names.

Since the Laurels and the Pelicans serve as senior advisors to the Crown in the SCA, like the medieval Russian Duma, which was made up of senior members of the druzhina (see below), they could also use the title boiarin/boiarynia.

Currently "rytser". I suggest replacing the term with "druzhinnik/druzhinnitsa" or "boiarin/boiarynia".

The title “rytser” suffers the same problem as the use of “korol” for king, i.e. it’s apparently only used for foreigners. It’s hard to properly define its usage, since I have so far found the title only once in a period text, in a 1388 grant certificate listed by Sreznevskii.

Far more common is the term “druzhina” – in fact, it is ubiquitous in the period texts, appearing dozens and dozens of times. This is a collective term for the elite, mounted core of the medieval Russian military sworn to serve a royal prince or great lord. Kovalevsky explicitly calls the "drougina" the "knightly class" of medieval Russia in a lecture to a British audience.

In peace time, the members of the druzhina served their lord as administrators, diplomats, and household staff, which is why “druzhina” is often translated as “retinue”. (And this is why Laurels and Pelicans could also be considered members of the druzhina.)

"Druzhina" is a collective term, however. The individual form is "druzhinnik," although I have only found “druzhinnik” once so far in period texts. The feminine form is "druzhinnitsa" (although this term is even more rare in period texts than the masculine form).

Year 945 [6453], Russian Primary Chronicle - In this year, Igor's retinue [druzhina] said to him, "The servants [otroki] of Sveinald are adorned with weapons and fine raiment, but we are naked... He dismissed his retainers [druzhina] on their journey homeward, but... returned on his tracks with a few of his followers [druzhini]... and the Derevlians came forth... and slew Igor' and his company [druzhinniki], for the number of the latter was few... The Derevlians inquired of Olga where the retinue [druzhina] was which they had sent to meet her. She replied that they were following with her husband's bodyguard [druzhina]."

1445 [6953], Novogorod Primary Chronicle - "And Knyaz Ivan Ondreyevich and Knyaz Vasili Yaroslavich escaped wounded, with a small following [druzhine]."

The druzhina was sometimes divided into a senior and junior druzhina. A member of the senior druzhina could be called knyazhnii muzh [prince's man] or more commonly, boiarin, and its members served as voevoda, namestnik, posadnik, tysyatski. A member of the junior druzhina could be called a detskii, gridin, otrok, dvorianin, sluga, etc. (See also discussion under Lord/Lady, below.)

Since many Western European medieval mounted warriors who held the rank of knight did not enjoy great wealth and prestige, I am not troubled by the fact that the term “druzhina” in period texts does not always refer to the highest nobility. If others consider that a problem, the term "boiarin," could be used.

Based on my reading of period texts, if a medieval Russian saw their kniaz riding through town escorted by high-born men in nice armor, they would have called them the “druzhina” or “boyare”. Both terms are very common in period texts. So I am left to suggest “druzhinnik/druzhinnitsa” or "boiarin/boiarynia" as the Russian alternative to “knight”.

Landed Baron/Baroness
I would propose adding "voevodsha" as the feminine form of "voevoda". As with "master", the lack of a feminine form for voevoda on the current list is odd, since every other Russian title has a feminine equivalent.

Dal's Russian dictionary provides "voevodka" and "voevodsha" as feminine forms of voevoda.

I have found the term "voevodka" in three period/near period texts, but all refer to men. (And a casual survey of Wickenden's Dictionary of Period Russian Names shows that most of the names that end in -ka are masculine names in period.) So it seems to be unsuitable for feminine use in period. [Grusheb'skii, and Восточная Литература: 1602 entry of Solovetskii Chronicle; 1615 February Order of Pskov voevody.]

I have not found any good period usages of "voevodsha". It is the only feminine form of voevoda in Lomosov's 1755 Russian Grammar.

§ 240 - Имена, значащие чины российские, в женском кончатся на ца: Царица, полковница, совѣтница, постелница, порутчица, черница. Выключаются: Королева, княгиня, боярыня, воеводша, управительша, крестьянка. [Titles, indicating rank of Russians, in feminine end in -tsa: tsaritsa, polkovnitsa, sovetnitsa, postelnitsa, porutchitsa, chernitsa. Exceptions: koroleva, kniaginia, voevodsha, upravititel'sha, krest'ianka.]

The term is used several times in a Russian translation of the diary of Marina Mnishek (daughter of a Polish voivod) who reigned very briefly as the wife of the False Dmitri (1606), but I suspect that the original document was written in Polish, especially with its use of titles such as pan.

"Дня 18. Выехал посол из Кракова, а пан воевода и пани воеводша, жена его, с царицею, дочерью своею, остались в то время в Промнике." Декабрь, ДНЕВНИК МАРИНЫ МНИШЕК c. 1605. [Day 18. Went out the envoy from Krakov, and pan voevoda and pani voevodsha, his wife, with the tsaritsa, his daughter, remained at that time in Promika." December. Diary of Marina Mnishek c. 1605] (

"Voevodina" is a feminine patronymic form of voevoda, as in Nastas'ia Fedorova zhena Voevodina, a late 16th century name. I have not found it used anywhere as a title of rank. [Wickenden]

Court Baron/Baronness
Part of official SCA rank scheme but not addressed by current alternate titles lists.
I would propose namestnik/namestnitsa.

Novgorod Primary Chronicle, 1215 [6723] "And Mstisalv Mstislavits... arrived at Novgorod on February 11, seized Yaroslav's lieutenant [namestnik], Knota Grigorevits, and put all the nobles [dvoryany] in chains..."

Novgorod Primary Chronicle, 1420 [6928] "and they sent Kniaz Fedor Patrikeyevich, lieutenant [namest'nik] of the Veliki Kniaz..."

The namestnik is a deputy or representative of the kniaz, much like a posadnik. The namestnik doesn’t seem to be as tied to a specific territory as a posadnik, but the sources I have found so far are vague on this point.

Currently pomestnik/pomestnitsa. I would change it to dvorianin/dvorianka.
By far the most common term for members of the nobility in period Russian texts is boiare. Some have suggested that boiarin/boiarynia be used for Lords and Ladies of all ranks. However, others have felt that the terms boiarin/boiarynia should be reserved for the higher ranks of SCA nobility, such as the Peerages and Baronetcies. Because of this disagreement, the title of boiarin/boiarinia was omitted from the current alternate titles list.

Some period Russian hierarchies may help clarify this debate:
From Statute of Prince Iaroslav (1019-54), Item 4 - penalties for throwing out a wife:
Great boyars (velikikh boiar") - [5] gold grivnas
Lesser boyars (menshikh boiar") - 1 gold grivna
Well-to-do people (narochitykh" liudii) - 2 rubles
Common people (prostoi chiadi) - 12 [silver] grivnas

From The First Treaty of Novgorod (1264-5), regarding limits on princely power:

From Novgorod Chronicle (1398):
Posadnik (x2)
Boyars - boiare
"Sons" of boyars - deti boiar'skyi
Men of substance - zhityii liudi
"Sons" of merchants - kupechkyi deti

Report of 1566 Sobor, attendees listed in first section:
Boyars (boiare)
Treasurers (kaznachi)
Printer/sealer (pechatnik)
Boyar court officer (chinovnik)
Council clerks (dumnye d’iaki)
Dvoriane first class
Dvoriane and deti boiarskie second class

From the above, it is clear that throughout period, the boyars are an upper level of society with various inferior ranks between them and commoners. The above also show that the titles of the inferior ranks are a little difficult to pin down. It may be helpful to consider that the two Russian words for “the nobility” are “boiarstvo” and “dvorianstvo”.

The term “dvorianin” is variously translated as noble, gentleman, and courtier. It appears regularly in period texts and continues in usage until well out of period.

Birchbark letter from Staraia Russa, 1160-80: “Please, intimidate [?] the dvoriane... "

1215 [6723] Novgorod Chronicle: "…put all the nobles [dvoriane] in chains…"
Decree to Limit Mestnichestvo, 1550 – “And to kniazes [kniazem] and to dvoriane greater [dvorianom bol’shim], and to deti boiarskie...”

In all situations where relative rank can be evaluated, dvorianin is clearly inferior to boiarin.

1218 [6726] Novgorod Chronicle: " …all six Kniazes, each with his Boiars and courtiers [dvoriane]… These righteous Kniazes of Ryazan met their end... with their Druzhina…"

The First Treaty of Novgorod (1264-5): Neither you, nor your princess [kniaginia], nor your boyars [boiare], nor your servitors [dvoriane] are to hold any villages throughout the Novgorod lands…”

The 1218 Novgorod Chronicle entry makes it tempting to think that, if the boyars are equivalent to the senior druzhina, the dvoriane are equivalent to the junior druzhina. This interpretation is supported by secondary sources such as Solov’ev.

When this same two-fold division is applied to the period Russian hierarchies listed above, it appears that terms such as menshie boiare and deti boiarskie could be equivalent to dvoriane.

A pomestnik is a member of the gentry who has been given a temporary grant of land on condition of continued service to the state. These land grants were called pomestie. However, the pomestie system did not start to evolve until the 15th century, and the term pomestnik, or pomeshchik, does not appear in period texts until 1497 (the Sudebnik of 1497 is the only reference that Sreznevskii lists). Thus, a pomestnik is a type of late period dvorianin.

So because dvorianin/dvorianka is used throughout period for lesser nobility, corresponds to the term “dvorianstvo” and is simpler than terms such as menshii boiarin, I would propose it for the use of Lords and Ladies below peerage rank instead of pomestnik, which is clearly a late period term with a fairly specialized meaning.

Lord/Lady (GoA vs. AoA)
The official SCA rank scheme does not distinguish between AoA and GoA level nobility. However, there are kingdoms in the Known World that give a lot of GoA level awards. In such kingdoms it would be useful to have a Russian title somewhere between “boiarin” and “dvorianin”.
Unfortunately, the Russians liked to divide categories into pairs – senior vs. junior druzhina, greater vs. lesser boiars, nobles vs. commoners, etc. and so it is difficult to find an intermediate “third” rank in the period texts. There are numerous possibilities, but the following seem to be the most promising.

Syn boiarskii/doch boiarskaia - literally means boyar’s son/daughter, the plural is deti boiarskie (boyar’s children) and so far I have found it in period texts starting from 1149 and it continuing in use through the end of period.

Russian Primary Chronicle, Ipatevskii redaction, 1149 [6657] “and there pasashe [?] Boleslav boyars' son [syny boiar'sky] with sword a lot."
Novgorod Chronicle, 1259 [6767] "And the Knyaz ordered... all the sons of the Boyars [detem" boiar'skym"]..."

Decree to Limit Mestnichestvo, 1550 – “And to kniazes (kniazem) and to dvoriane greater (dvorianom bol’shim), and to deti boiarskie(detem boiarskim)... that to boiarskie deti (boiarskim detem) and to dvoriane greater (dvorianom bol’shim)...”

Report of 1566 Sobor, attendees listed in first section:
Treasurers (kaznachi)
Printer/sealer (pechatnik)
Boyar court officer (chinovnik)
Council clerks (dumnye d’yaki)
Dvoriane first class
Dvoriane and deti boiarskie second class

Report of 1566 Sobor, attendees listed at end just before signatures:
Prikaznye liudi (bureau people)
Clerks (d’yaki)
Deti boiarskie

Thus, at least by late period, the deti boiarskie can be distinguished from the dvoriane. My secondary sources conflict on the relative ranks of deti boiarskie and dvoriane. This seems to be because, in late Muscovite period, the deti boiarskie lost their previous prestige. Solov’ev indicates that for most of period the dvoriane/slugi were general terms for any members of the junior druzhina, while the deti boiarskie, descendents of collateral branches of the boiar families, were members of the highest level of the junior druzhina (i.e. the deti boiarskie were the highest ranking dvoriane). But at the end of period, personal service to the state/tsar was beginning to be more important than noble birth in the hierarchy and so the “dvoriane first class” began to out-rank the deti boiarskie. However, as can be seen from the above texts, the deti boiarskie are still sometimes ranked above dvoriane in the mid 1500s.

Since “syn boiarskii/doch boiarskaia” are used through most of SCA period and for most of period are a higher rank of dvoriane, these titles would be reasonable for GoA level nobility.

However, as seen above, the 1550 Decree also uses the term “dvorianin bolshoi,” meaning greater/senior dvorianin, as roughly equivalent to “deti boiarskie”. While I haven’t found the term in earlier period texts, the use of “bolshoi” here is similar to the use of modifiers such as “velikii boiarin”, “starshaia druzhina”, “bol’shoi boiarin” etc. which are frequently found as early as Kievan period texts. So its meaning would be clear to any period Russian. Therefore it is tempting to suggest “dvorianin bolshoi” and “dvorianka bolshaia” as another possible set of titles for GoA level Lords and Ladies.

"my lord"/"my lady"/"good gentles":
Part of official SCA rank scheme but not addressed in current Russian alternate titles (or any of the other official alternate titles lists).
I would recommend:
Gospodin" [господин] - lord, master.
Gospozha [госпожа] - feminine of above.
Gospoda [господа] - collective of the above, i.e. equivalent of "ladies and gentlemen" , "master and mistress", etc.
Used to address higher ranking persons of various ranks.

Sreznevskij presents entries for the following meanings:
1.) dominus (Latin) and the Greek κύριος (kyrios).
2.) the word gospodin" in the sense of prince and owner generally, connected to a title of rank or substituted for it.
3.) as an expression of respect. Eg. Gospodin brother [Еfremovskii Kormchaia Kniga: Rule of the Karfagenskii Cathedral 134 - c. 1100]

"So I prince Danilo Dmitriyevich Kholmskiy, that yesm' to beaters by brow to their Master [Gospodinu] and Ospadaryu [Sovereign] Great prince Ivan Vasilyevich for their fault by their ospodinom [master] Geront'em by the metropolitan of all Rus, and by his children and from servitors, bishops..." [Pledge record of the prince of Kholm to Ivan III, 8 March 1474.]

Novgorod Birchbark Letters:
#84 (1120-1140) - "Bring from the lady/mistress [gospozha] thirteen rezan."
#67 (1300-1320) - "Come, lord [gospodin], to Timofei:"
#23 (1400-1410) - "A bow from Karpa to my lord [gospodinu moemu] Foma. I was, lord [gospodin], in Pustoperzhe, and divided the rye from Oleksei and from Gafanko. Not much, lord [gospodin], rye is for your portion..."
#17 (1410-1420) - A bow from Mikhail to his lord [gospodinu svoemu] Timofei. The land is ready, the seed is needed. Come, lord [gospodin], personally right away, as we cannot bring the rye without your word.
#49 (1410-1420) - A bow from Nastas'ia to my lord brother [gospodam moim brat'iam]. My Boris is no longer among the living. How, lord [gospoda], to care about me and my children?

The Novgorod Chronicle:
1228 [6736] "on our Lady's Day..." - gospozh'kin" den'
1348 [6856] "Come to us, Sire [Gospodin], to defend thy patrimony..." - the men of Novgorod addressing Veliki Knyaz Simeon.
1398 [6906] "We cannot, Lord Father [gospodine otche], endure this violences..." - men of Novgorod addressing their Vladyka [bishop]
1398 [6906] "we shall lay down our heads... for our Lord Great Novgorod." - gospodina... velikyi Nov"gorod .[leading men of Novgorod making a vow]
1398 [6906] "Sirs, Voyevodas of Novgorod..." - Gospodo voevody novgorodchkyi [the Vladyka's superintendent speaking to the leaders of Novgorod]
1398 [6906] "Since our Lord the Veliki Knyaz..." - gospodin" kniaz' velikii
1418 [6926] "Here, sirs! help me against this miscreant." - a gospodo... [said by a certain man Stepanko, crying out to the people]

Selected References (believe it or not):
Восточная Литература [Eastern Literature].
Большая советская энциклопедия. [Large Soviet Encyclopedia]. Third Edition, 1969-78. Available on-line at
Cross, Samuel and Olgerd Sherbowitz-Wetzor, translators and editors. The Russian Primary Chronicle. The Medieval Academy of America, Cambridge, MA. 1953.
Dal', V.I. Толковый словарь живого великорусского языка. [Exhaustive dictionary of the living Great-Russian Language.] at
Домострой. Sylvester redaction of the Domostroi. Available on several websites.
Древнерусские Берестяные Грамоты. [Ancient-Russian Birchbark Letters.]
Grigor’evich, Scherbakov Vyacheslav. Учебно-методический комплекс. Электронная версия курса лекций 'История России с древнейших времен до наших дней’… – Lots of primary sources.
Grushevs'kii, M. "КОЗАКИ І КОЗАКОВАННЄ В ПЕРШІЙ ПОЛОВИНЇ XVI В. ВІДНОСИНИ ДО КОЗАЦТВА МІСЦЕВОЇ АДМІСТРАЦІЇ Й ЦЕНТРАЛЬНОГО ПРАВИТЕЛЬСТВА". [Cossacks and Cossackness in the first half of the 16th Century...] Історія України-Руси. Том VII. [History of Ukraine-Rus. Volume VII].
Kaiser, Daniel. Grinnell College Individual Webpage: Daniel Kaiser, Professor of History. Primary sources translated.
Krotov, Yakov, editor. Библиотека Якова Кротова. Primary sources.
Kovalesky, Maxime. "Old Russian Folkmotes." Modern Customs and Ancient Laws of Russia: The Ilchester Lectures. 1891. Available on various websites.
Kubijovyc, Volodymyr (vols. 1-2) and Danylo Husar Struk (vols. 3-5), editors. Encyclopedia of Ukraine. University of Toronto Press, 1984-93. Partially available on-line at
Lomonosov, Mikhail Vasil'evich. Российская грамматика. Глава 5: О ПРОИЗВОЖДЕНИИ ПРИТЯЖАТЕЛЬНЫХ, ОТЕЧЕСТВЕННЫХ И ОТЕЧЕСКИХ ИМЕН И ЖЕНСКИХ ОТ МУЖСКИХ [Russian Grammar. Chapter 5: On the derivation of possessive, native and family names and women's from men's] (
MacKenzie, David and Michael Curran. A History of Russia, the Soviet Union, and Beyond, 4th Edition. Wadsworth, Inc. Belmont, CA. 1993.
Michell, Robert and Nevill Forbes. The Chronicle of Novgorod 1016-1471: Camden Third Series Vol XXV. Officers of the Society, London. 1914.
МИТРОПОЛИЧЬЕ ПРАВОСУДИЕ (Russian version of the Pravosudie Mitropolich'e). Available at
Petrov, Aleksandr. "Старинные служилые чины и звания". Древнерусская Литература. Антология.
Pouncy, Carolyn, editor and translator. The Domostroi. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. 1994.
Повесть времинных лет. The Tale of Bygone Years, aka Russian Primary Chronicle. Available on-line on several websites.
Rozn, Val. "Russia." Titles of European hereditary rulers.
Solov'ev, S.M. История России с Древнейших Времен. 29-volume history of Russia first published in the late 1800s.
Sreznevskij, I.I. Материалы для словаря древне-русскаго языка по письменнымъ памяникамъ. The Department of Russian Language and Literature, Imperial Academy of Science. 1893-1912.
Ushakov, D.N. Толковый словарь русского языка: В 4 т. institute "Сов. энцикл."; ОГИЗ; Гос. изд-во иностр. и нац. слов., 1935-1940.

To see my complete research notes and references on this topic, please visit: