Soltys (солтис; Polish: sołtys, from German Schultheiss and Latin scultetus). An official appointed by the feudal owner of a village to act as his deputy in matters of local administration and justice. The office, based on Germanic law, was introduced in western Ukrainian territories that were acquired by Poland in the 14th century. Until the 16th century the office was hereditary. It was not fixed to a specific class: a soltys could be a nobleman (see Nobility), a burgher (see Burghers), or a wealthy peasant (see Peasants). A military figure could be rewarded for service by becoming a soltys and receiving a soltystvo (a manor estate). In the 14th and 15th centuries those officials came to constitute an influential socioeconomic group. In 1923–39 in Western Ukrainian villages under Polish rule the soltys was the chief of the local administration and of the territorial government overseen by the village council.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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