Druzhyna

Druzhyna. An armed retinue in ancient Rus’ that served the prince and constituted the main military force of the state. The members of the druzhyna, originally of Varangian origin, were in charge of individual districts in peacetime and represented the nucleus of the prince's army during campaigns. Members of the druzhyna were closely associated with the prince. In exchange for their services, the members were provided for in full, in addition to being assigned to influential positions in the government. The prince consulted his retinue, and they were bound to him in loyal service. The druzhyna participated alongside the prince in diplomatic functions such as the negotiation of treaties. The druzhyna consisted of two groups: the senior druzhyna, or muzhi kniazhiie, composed mainly of boyars, who performed the higher state functions; and the junior druzhyna, or hryd, who were responsible for the personal protection of the prince and who carried out a variety of his commissions in the royal court and in the provinces. In the 11th and 12th centuries two elements—the princely druzhyna and the zemski boyars (local aristocracy, city elders)—united to form one aristocratic and landowning boyar stratum in society (see Estates). The boyars became very influential in affairs of state, particularly in the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia.

The word druzhyna was also applied in a wider sense: in the chronicles the national militia or the entire princely army is referred to as the druzhyna; druzhyna could also designate the members of the vervy, rural communities that accepted monetary pledges from their members.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]




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