From Academic Kids

For the heavy metal music band see Voivod (band).

Voivod is a Slavic term initially denoting in command of a military unit. Later the term came to denote the governor of a province. A territory over which a voivod rules is called a voivodship.

It was used by medieval Bulgarian, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Serbian states, similar to the Turkish "Sanjaqbey". It was the highest military rank in armies of Montenegro, Serbia, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and among the Chetniks.

Wojewoda is also a current name of the governor of a province (voivodship - "wojewdztwo") in Poland.



The term stems itself from the Slavic roots voi (warrior) and ved'- meaning to lead. Because of evolution of the Slavic languages, in modern times the term could be rendered vajda, vojvod, vojvoda, wojwod, wojewoda (Polish), voivode, voivoda, Voievod, воевода (Russian), voyevoda, војвода (Serbian) or voyvoda.

Originally the term was almost equal to Anglo-Saxon term warlord and shared the ethymology with Latin term dux and German term Herzog (which later evolved into Duke). Because of that, the Slavic term is sometimes incorrectly translated as Duke.


The tradition of electing a voivod is very old and dates back to the times of early Slavs. Each tribe, gathered on a congregation elected its own voivod. In case of war he was entitled to lead the army. When the war was over, the power was transferred back to the legitimate rulers - be it the veche or a prince.

By the end of 8th century, the Slavic tribes established the first organised states in Central and Eastern Europe. The new situation demanded a more flexible command over the state, especially during the conflicts with Turkic, Baltic and German peoples. At that time the power of the Voivod was in most cases extended also to civil authority and, in some instances, to religious command. The chiefs of the tribes, princes and hospodars, delegated parts of their authorities to lower-ranking voivods, while retaining the title of highest voivod and the power of the highest priest and judge.

With the creation of permanent Slavic states in Ruthenia and Poland, the highest authority was passed to dukes and princes, both terms of Germanic origins. In Kievan Rus these were of the Varangian nobles (Rurik Dynasty), while in Poland probably of local origin (Piast Dynasty). The basis of the power of a prince was his band of warriors called druzhyna. Initially a small group of professional soldiers, the druzhyna grew in order to be able to control the vast areas under authority of the prince. With time the need to split the army onto several units became clear and the commander of such a unit was called prince's voivod. The highest-ranking of such voivods formed the princes' courts in Gniezno and Kiev, while others commanded the troops in distant towns and served as advisors to prince's delegates.



See also

la:Vaivoda nl:Woiwode pl:Wojewoda ru:Воевода


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