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Czar / Tsar / Tzar / Csar / Zur

Czar [about [8,160,000-8,490,000 attestations in Google], more properly Tsar [about 4,270,000-4,300,000 attestations in Google], Tzar [about 777,000-1,200,000 attestations in Google], Csar [about 587,000 attestations in Google] or Zur [poorly attested in Google], the title of the emperors of Russia. Czar is the most common form in American usage, but tsar is preferred by most scholars of Slavic studies as a more accurate transliteration of the Russian and is often found in scholarly writing with reference to one of the Russian rulers.

The word occurs early in Old Slavonic, equivalent to king or kaiser, and is connected with the Latin Ceasar, continued in the Roman empire as a title of honor long after the imperial bouse itself had become extinct. In the Slavonic Bible the word basileus is rendered by czar. In the Russian chronicles also the Byzantine emperors are styled czars, as are also the khans of the Mongols who ruled over Kussia.

Some sources report that Tsar is not a true Russian word, but was brought in by their Mongol conquerors, and does not mean rightly a great king but a horde-leader ; it it the Persian word Sar, a Head, likewise Head of House and a Horde, is early enough to be in the book of Genesis in Egypt as Sar-of-bakere, Sar-ofcupbeares, Sar-of-thVguard Potiphar ; it is the Sanskirt Sura, and through the French Sieur and Sire, which is not the same word as Seigneur or the Latin Senior, but is Gnudish, and is Irish now, as Soar a man of good birth nnd a head workman. By this rendering, Tsar is the same word as the English Sir.

The title of the Russian princes was kniaz (prince) and velikikniaz (great prince) : and the princes of Moscow took the title of czar as rulers of the Mongolians. As individual subkhans made themselves independent of the kingdom of the Golden Horde, they also assumed the title of czar ; thus, there were czars of Siberia, of Kasan, and of Astrakhan. The conquest of the Golden Horde by the khan of the Crimea in 1480 made the grand-princes of Moscow completely independent ; and upon them devolved the absolute power which the czars hod exercised over all Kussia. Ivan IV the Terrible first caused him self to be crowned czar in 1547 ; from that time the title of czar became the chief title of the Muscovite rulers. The wife of the czar was named tzaritza (czarina); the sons, tzarewitch ; the daughters, tzarevna ; but after the death of Alexei - Peter I's son - these titles were abolished, and the imperial princes were called grand-dukes, and the imperial princesses grand-duchesses. In 1799 the Emperor Paul I introduced the title of cesarewitch (not czarevitch) for his second son, the Grand-duke Constantine. Among the Russian people themselves, the emperor was more frequently called Gossudar ( Hospodar, Lord) than czar.

Popular language has, indeed, long applied the title of Emperor to the sovereigns of extensive dominions in the East. So far is this carried that it is almost universally used in speaking of all the great monarchies in Asia in modern times, and by grave historians. The imperial title denoted a superiority over kings and kingdoms within certain specified bounds, and had no relation to the empire of either Rome or Constantinople. The title was used very much according to popular usage in the present day. When England became united under one sovereign, the title of Imperator or Basileus came into frequent use. Something analogous had, indeed, existed in the time of the Heptarchy. That of Basileus had, indeed, been employed so far back as the seventh century. In the middle of the tenth century it was frequently employed, either singly, or combined with Imperator. Thus Athelstan in 930 styles himself "Basileus Anglorum simul ac imperator regum et nationum infra fines Britanniae commorantium." This ostentatious display of titles arrived at its full height in the time of Edgar, in the middle of the tenth century.

It has long been a question whether the title Tzar or Czar was derived from the Roman Caesar. When Vassili or Basilius first assumed the title of Emperor, pains were taken to justify this on the supposition that this old title came down from the old empire. Olearius, who visited Russia in 1636, in the suite of the embassy of the Duke of Holstein, alludes to this claim. The usual style of Vassili's predecessors had been Velikoi Knez, which is variously rendered Grand Duke or Great Prince. Olearius says that the reigning prince was addressed by this title at the time of his visit. Czar, however, had been in use before, and Karamsin informs us that it had been, borne by several sovereigns, and among others by Jaroslaf II. and by Demitri Donskoi.

The question attracted the attention of the learned early in the last century, when Peter made great efforts to obtain a formal recognition of the title by the great powers of Europe. Much stress was laid by Peter on the fact that the title had been recognized by Maximilian in a formal document. The history of this transaction, as related by Karamsin, is curious. The treaty, which was political as well as commercial, was prepared in. Russ, and translated into German at Moscow, when the title Kaiser was substituted for that of Czar. The treaty was ratified by Maximilian himself by oath, and in the presence of the Russian envoys. Karamsin adds, that the original having been lost, Peter caused the German version to be published with a translation both in French and Russ. Many years afterwards Joseph II., on his visit to Moscow, desired to see the document to which so much importance was attached, and noted, with some interest, the terms in which Maximilian's ratification was inserted, adding, with a smile to the guardians of the archives, " Show that to the King of France;" for the Court of Versailles had long refused its recognition of the imperial titles of Russia.

It is clear from Karamsin's statement that Czar was never connected with Imperial dignity until the sixteenth century, and that it had been previously applied, not merely to the rulers of Russia, but to the chiefs of neighbouring powers, in the sense of King or Prince. Vassili succeeded in procuring a partial recognition of the title Emperor; hence the Russian ruler is thus addressed in letters to him in favour of Russian merchants by Philip and Mary, and by Elizabeth, as will be found in Hakluyt. This form of address was, however, steadily refused by "the Great Turk," and "the Polonian," because, as Selden informs us, on the authority of a contemporary writer, "neither of those princes would endure any new title on each other's letters." Selden adds that his successors styled themselves variously " Imperator totius Russise," or "Magnus Dominus, Czar atque magnus Dux totius Russise," etc., or "Dei Gratia, Imperator et magnus Dux totius Russise atque Romanorum Tartarise regnorum," etc., clearly showing that the new style was not well established.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:15:37 ZULU