The difference between a prince and a king.

The titles of prince and tsar in the history of Russia are traditionally regarded as very close and almost identical. What is the specificity of their understanding?

Who is a prince?

The word "prince" is considered Slavic (in fact, it was spread mainly in the Slavic-speaking states), but in fact has a Germanic origin. The ancient Germans called the elder of the clan the word kuning, which, having migrated into the languages ​​of neighboring Slavic peoples, became "prince". In Ancient Russia, this word of Germanic origin practically corresponded to its original meaning. Rusichs called princes the heads of the clan who received a wide range of powers.

As a rule, the ancient Russian prince had power only within his city and on the adjacent lands. He could collect tribute from the population, guaranteeing the people in return order and protection (the corresponding functions were assigned to the squad, which was also maintained by the prince). In many cases, the princely power extended to contiguous territories of considerable area. In this case, the prince himself, who ruled in the largest city, could be called great, and those who were sent to rule in smaller settlements - appanage.

Depending on the tradition of social organization in a particular territory, the power of the prince could be individual or limited - for example, boyars or popular assemblies, veche. During the Mongol invasion of Russia, the powers of the princes were significantly reduced due to the loss of their actual sovereignty by the principalities.

After the liberation from the Mongols, the Russian lands began to unite: the Moscow principality played a leading role in this process. In the second half of the 15th century, the Grand Duke of Moscow Ivan III Vasilievich, who, according to modern historians, led the liberation of Russia from the Mongols, began to build a new state and received the title of Grand Duke of All Russia. This title was transferred to Vasily III Ivanovich, then to Ivan IV Vasilyevich, who is known as Ivan the Terrible.

In 1547 Ivan the Terrible took the title of Sovereign, Tsar and Grand Duke of All Russia. During the solemn service, which was held in the Assumption Cathedral, Metropolitan Macarius laid on the sovereign a cross, a crown and barmas sent by Konstantin Monomakh for his grandson Vladimir. The Greek church hierarchs blessed the reign of the Russian sovereign with a Cathedral charter of 1561. This letter was signed by Patriarch Joasaph II of Constantinople and 36 Greek ministers of the church: 32 metropolitans, 1 archbishop and 3 bishops.

Thus, the head of the Russian state became tsar.

The title of prince, in turn, could be received by the children of the monarch, as well as the grandchildren of the king. Until the 18th century, this title was generic. Subsequently, he could be gifted by the king for special services to the country. Formally, the title of prince in the Russian state existed until 1917, when the Bolsheviks who came to power abolished it.

The title of the prince or similar in terms of the grounds for appropriation, as well as the scope of powers of the ruler could have the heads of state and political entities outside of Russia. For example, those who bore the title of prince or duke. In Northern Europe - the king.

Slightly different in sound from the word "prince", but in fact, the same root words were used to name various titles in the Slavic-speaking states. For example, in Bulgaria “knez” is an elder. Actually, there is a word in the Bulgarian language that is almost completely identical to Russian both in sound and in meaning - "prince". In Czech, knez is a priest. Thus, the word "prince" and those related to it correspond to the title of a person who has reverence, respect among people, certain privileges in the state.

Who is the king?

So, Ivan the Terrible became the first Russian tsar. The title of this title goes back to the Roman name Caesar, or Caesar. Over time, it became a household name, and they began to use it as a symbol of the continuity of political power in Rome. In Russia, this word in various sounds was used to name the ancient biblical rulers - for example, the kings of David and Solomon, as well as the emperors of Byzantium, with which Russia established close cultural and political ties.

The first ruler to receive the title in question in the Slavic-speaking states is the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon I. Becoming king in August 913, he built one of the most powerful states in Europe while. At the same time, before accepting the royal title, Simeon I was the prince of Bulgaria.

Thus, even before the coronation of Ivan the Terrible, the title of tsar was very highly revered in Russia. The fact that the Grand Duke received him in 1547 allowed him to stand on the same level with the rulers of Byzantium, the kings of the countries of Europe.

Fyodor I Ioannovich, son of Ivan the Terrible, who ruled from 1584 to 1598, became the last Russian crowned and full-fledged king of the Rurik family. After his death, the state for some time - from January 16 to February 21, 1598 - was headed by his wife, Tsarina Irina Godunova. Then her brother Boris Godunov, who ruled from 1598 to 1605, was elected to the throne. During this period, in accordance with historical assessments, the Time of Troubles began in Russia - a period of uncertainty in the formation of power and the organization of government.

Boris Godunov's successor, Fyodor II Borisovich, also received the title of tsar, but was not crowned. The period of his reign lasted from 23 April to 11 June 1605. The crown, as well as the title of tsar, however, was held by False Dmitry I, who ruled the country from June 1605 to May 1606. Further Troubles in Russia grew into a dual power, a very difficult time for the country came.

A difficult period in the history of Russia ended with the election in March 1613 to the throne of Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov, the founder of the new royal dynasty. In 1721, his grandson Peter Alekseevich Romanov, aka Peter I, assumed a new title - Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia.


There is not one difference between a prince and a tsar, but there is a lot in common between these titles. If we talk specifically about the difference, then, first of all, it is worth noting that immediately after the coronation of Ivan the Terrible, the title of the tsar became higher than any princely title. However, before the ruler appeared in Russia, who became tsar, the Grand Duke actually had his own powers. Moreover, from the reign of Ivan IV to Peter I, the full title of the ruler of Russia sounded like the Sovereign, Tsar and Grand Duke of All Russia. Before Peter I became emperor, he continued to be both Tsar and Grand Duke.

It turns out that the grand ducal title was not formally canceled even after the adoption of the tsarist state by the head of the Russian state. In turn, the princes - clan or granted - remained in the Russian Empire until the corresponding title was abolished by the Bolsheviks. Thus, the word "prince" in relation to Russian rulers (albeit at different levels of power) and their descendants was actually used continuously for over 1000 years, "tsar" (as denoting the head of the Russian state) - in the period from 1547 to 1721.

To more clearly reflect what the difference between a prince and a king is in principle, the following table will help us.


Prince King
What do they have in common?
The head of the Russian state in the period from the reign of Ivan III to 1547 was called the Grand Duke, after - the Sovereign, Tsar and Grand Duke
Both titles were inherited (subjects of the Russian emperor could also be granted to princes for special services to the country)
What is the difference between them?
Initially, the title corresponded to the head of the clan, then to the ruler of the ancient Russian city and adjacent territories, from the end of the 15th century - to the head of the entire Russian state, who was the Grand Duke of All RussiaThe title from the moment of approval and change to the imperial one always corresponded to the head of the Russian state
yearThe head of the Russian state was called Tsar from 1547 to 1721
The title corresponded to the rank of prince, duke in EuropeThe title corresponded to the rank of king, emperor in Europe