Court functionaries

Court functionaries. Stewards and servants in a prince’s court. In Kyivan Rus’ the most important servitor was the dvorskyi or ohnyshchanyn, the prince’s personal attendant, who managed the entire princely household and estates and supervised the court servitors and servants. His functions were similar to those of the medieval palatines or majordomos of Western Europe.

In general, all of the servitors in the princely courts of the 10th–14th century were called court people (dvirski liudy) and were categorized according to their functions, for example, tyvun or tiun (prince’s steward and, later, state and judicial administrator), ditskyi (executive agent, junior member of the princely retinue or druzhyna), otrok (member of the retinue of a still lower grade, also with administrative functions), kliuchnyk (literally, ‘keeper of the keys’: housekeeper), stolnyk (originally, table servant at festive court dinners; later, high-ranking administrative officer), chashnyk (cupbearer). Some of these servitors gained competence as public officers of the prince, and their functions began to extend even into judicial affairs.

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania the personal servitors of the prince were called dvirski. Among them were dvirskyi marshalok (court marshal; he headed the court servitors), pidkantsler (head of the court administrative office), dvirskyi pidskarbii (court treasurer), dvirskyi khorunzhyi (court standard-bearer), and dvirskyi hetman (court military commander). All of these served as deputies to government or zemski (state) officials, whose titles and positions were parallel to their own: marshal (marshalok zemskyi), chancellor (kantsler zemskyi), treasurer (pidskarbii zemskyi), grand hetman (hetman zemskyi, meaning ‘supreme military commander’). Court officials substituted for state officials during their absence. There were also court servants: pidchashyi (court attendant in charge of beverages), mechnyk (sword-bearer or sheriff), kukhmistr (court chef; later, an officer of the court), stolnyk (servant at table), pokladnyk (one in charge of stores and supplies), koniushyi (senior equerry, master of stables), sokolnyk (court falconer). Court functionaries were usually selected from the nobility.

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

This subject is not referenced in any other entries in the Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine.