The title grand prince or great prince (Latin: magnus princeps, Greek:
megas archon) ranked in honour below king and emperor and above a
Grand duke is the usual and established, though not literal,
translation of these terms in English and Romance languages, which do
not normally use separate words for a "prince" who reigns as a monarch
(e.g., Albert II,
Prince of Monaco) and a "prince" who does not reign,
but belongs to a monarch's family (e.g.,
Cambridge). German, Dutch, Slavic and Scandinavian languages do use
separate words to express this concept, and in those languages grand
prince is understood as a distinct title (for a cadet of a dynasty)
from grand duke (hereditary ruler ranking below a king).
The title of grand prince was once used for the sovereign of a "grand
principality". The last titular grand principalities vanished in 1917
and 1918, the territories being united into other monarchies or
becoming republics. Already at that stage, the grand principalities of
Finland had been for centuries under
rulers of other, bigger monarchies, so that the title of grand prince
was superseded by a royal title (king/tsar) or an imperial one
(emperor). The last sovereign to reign whose highest title was grand
Ivan IV of Moscow
Ivan IV of Moscow in the 16th century, until he assumed the
rank of Tsar of Russia. When Ivan IV's pre-tsarist title is referred
to in English, however, it is usually as grand duke.
Velikiy knjaz is also a Russian courtesy title for members of the
family of the Russian tsar (from the 17th century), although those
grand princes were not sovereigns.
1 Terminology in Slavic and Baltic languages
2 Use in the Middle Ages
2.3 Kievan Rus and Successor States
2.4 Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
3 Modern use
4 See also
Terminology in Slavic and Baltic languages
Grand Prince, used in the Slavic and Baltic languages, was the title
of a medieval monarch who headed a more-or-less loose confederation
whose constituent parts were ruled by lesser princes. Those grand
princes' title and position was at the time usually translated as
king. In fact, the Slavic knjaz and the Baltic kunigaikštis (nowadays
usually translated as prince) are cognates of king. However, a grand
prince was usually only primus inter pares within a dynasty,
primogeniture not governing the order of succession. All princes of
the family were equally eligible to inherit a crown (for example,
succession might be through agnatic seniority or rotation). Often
other members of the dynasty ruled some constituent parts of the
monarchy/country. An established use of the title was in the Kievan
Rus' and in the Grand Duchy of
Lithuania (from the 14th century).
Thus, Veliki Knjaz has been more like high king than "grand duke", at
least, originally and were not subordinated to any other authority as
more western (for example Polish) Grand Dukes were.
As these countries expanded territorially and moved towards
primogeniture and centralization, their rulers acquired more elevated
Use in the Middle Ages
Grand Prince of the Hungarians
Grand Prince (Hungarian: Nagyfejedelem) was the title used by
contemporary sources to name the leader of the federation of the
Hungarian tribes in the 10th century.
Constantine VII mentioned
Árpád in his book
De Administrando Imperio
De Administrando Imperio as megas Turkias arkhon,
Bruno of Querfurt
Bruno of Querfurt referred to Géza in his Sancti Adalberti
Pragensis episcopi et martyris vita altera as Ungarorum senior magnus.
It was used by Géza and his son and heir Stephen of Hungary.
Main article: veliki župan
In the Middle Ages, the Serbian veliki župan (велики
жупан) was the supreme chieftain in the multi-tribal society. The
title signifies overlordship, as the leader of lesser chieftains
titled župan. It was used by the Serb rulers in the 11th and 12th
centuries. In Greek, it was known as archizoupanos
(ἄρχιζουπάνος), megazoupanos (μεγαζουπάνος)
and megalos zoupanos (μεγάλος ζουπάνος).
In the 1090s, Vukan became the veliki župan in Raška (Rascia).
Stefan Nemanja expelled his brother Tihomir in 1168 and assumed the
title of veliki župan, as described in the
Charter of Hilandar
Charter of Hilandar (и
постави ме великог жупана). A
used mega iupanus for
Stefan the First-Crowned
Stefan the First-Crowned (Stephanus dominus
Seruie siue Rasie, qui mega iupanus). Afterwards, it was a high
noble rank with notable holders such as
Altoman Vojinović (fl.
Kievan Rus and Successor States
Великий князь (Velikiy Knyaz; literally, great prince)
was, starting in the 10th century, the title of the leading
the Kievan Rus', head of the
Rurikid House: first the prince of Kiev,
and then that of Vladimir and
Galicia-Volhynia starting in the 13th
century. Later, several princes of nationally important cities, which
comprised vassal appanage principalities, held this title (Grand
Prince of Moscow, Tver', Yaroslavl', Ryazan', Smolensk, etc.). From
Grand Prince of
Moscow appeared as the titular head of
eastern Rus' and slowly centralized power until Ivan IV was crowned
tsar in 1547. Since then, the title grand prince ceased to be a
hereditary office and became a generic title for members of the
Imperial family until the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The Lithuanian title Didysis kunigaikštis was used by the rulers of
Lithuania, and after 1569, it was one of two main titles used by the
monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The kings of Poland
from the Swedish
House of Vasa
House of Vasa also used this title for their
non-Polish territories. This Lithuanian title was sometimes latinized
as Magnus Dux or Grand Duke.
In 1582, king
John III of Sweden
John III of Sweden added
Grand Prince of
Finland to the
subsidiary titles of the Swedish kings, however without any
territorial or civic implications,
Finland already being a part of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire ruling house of
Habsburg instituted a similar
Grand Principality in
Transylvania (Siebenburgen) in 1765.
After the Russian conquests, the title continued to be used by the
Russian emperor in his role as ruler of
Lithuania (1793–1918) and of
Finland (1809–1917) as well. His titulary included, among
other titles: "
Grand Duke of Smolensk, Volynia, Podolia", "Lord and
Grand Duke of Nizhni Novgorod, Chernigov" etc.
A more literal translation of the Russian title than grand duke would
be great prince — especially in the pre-Petrine era — but the term
is neither standard nor widely used in English. In German, however, a
Grand Duke was known as a Großfürst, and in
Latin as Magnus
Grand prince remained as a dynastic title for the senior members of
Romanov dynasty in Russia's imperial era. The title Velikiy Knyaz,
its use finally formalized by Alexander III, then belonged to children
and male-line grandchildren of the emperors of Russia. The daughters
and paternal granddaughters of the emperors used a different version
of the title (Великая Княжна, Velikie knyazhna) from
females who obtained it as the consorts of Russian grand princes
(Великие Княгини, Velikie knjagini). In modern times a
Grand Duke or Grand
Duchess is styled Imperial Highness.
The title grand prince was also used for the heir apparent to the
Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Grand Prince of the Hungarians
Royal and noble ranks
Titles of nobility
^ Francis William Carter; David Turnock (1999). The States of Eastern
Europe. Ashgate. p. 252. ISBN 978-1-85521-512-2.
^ a b Сима Ћирковић; Раде Михальчић (1999).
Лексикон српског средњег века. Knowledge.
p. 73. ВЕЛИКИ ЖУПАН - 1. Титула српског
владара у XI и XII веку. Гласила је велнм
жупднк и била превођена одговарајућим
терминима, грчки арџ- ^огтагот,
игуа^огтауге, цеуаХа? ^огтожх, латин-
ски те^ајирапиз, та§пиз ...
^ John Van Antwerp Fine (1991). The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical
Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century. University of
Michigan Press. pp. 225–. ISBN 0-472-08149-7.
^ Paul Stephenson (29 June 2000). Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A
Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900-1204. Cambridge
University Press. pp. 267–. ISBN 978-0-521-77017-0.
^ Jovo Radoš (2000). Počeci filozofije prava kod Srba.
^ Radovi. 19. 1972.