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Have you ever wondered how nobility received their titles? Well, today I’m going to share a breakdown of how some such titles came to be; beginning with the Boyar ruling class.
The term boyar describes the landholding gentry of eastern Europe, who were considered nobility by birthright i.e., princes' castes and were the ruling class caste of kingdoms of most countries and principalities. By custom, the boyars normally elected their own monarchs from their own tribe (in Russia this was done through the Boyar duma) from their family with selections from specific ruling boyar families, or boyar houses as chieftains for their Clan/Tribe.
Boyars ruled their own tracts of land with relative autonomy, but they were expected to show loyalty to their elected kin rulers and set aside common disputes and power struggles in defense of the kingdom to keep peace. The Boyars was also known to be non-Christian and followed the very ancient Earthdweller beliefs, and were followers of pantheons believing in the Odinic, Greek, and Roman pantheon Earthdweller religions, some Boyars were even Buddhist and Hinduists and they were later forced to become either Christian Orthodox or Catholic.
Historically, these members of the royal nobility took up the highest ranks within military and civil posts and also formed a supreme council, the Boyar Duma, from the early 10th to 12th Centuries of Kievan Rus until the time of Peter the Great in the 17th Century, when he did away with the Boyar rank in Russia and announced himself Emperor of all Russia. (Emperor is same status ranking as Cesar). A specific detail one can spot in any Boyar is his bushy beard. Traditionally, the male population of Russia and especially Boyars, the keepers of all traditions as they were, were obliged to wear beards according to religious order and also to show social status/rank.
The punishment for shaving was barely less serious than the penalty for murder of a free man. A makeover of the Russian people began after Peter the Great came back to Moscow after his Grand Embassy to Europe. The day after his return, he ordered scissors, and himself cut several noblemen’s beards in public. The Boyars were shocked and humiliated, fiercely condemning Peter’s new practice. There were even those who committed suicide after losing their beards.
All across Russia, people believed shaving to be a sin, and priests denied their blessing to those without beards. The Boyars saw Peter’s actions as an attempt to disrupt the very pillars of Russian noble life. As a result, the Tsar imposed back-breaking taxes on those who insisted on wearing facial hair to encourage Russians to adopt the Western European custom. Special metal tokens were used as proof of payment of the ‘beard tax’. Stubborn Boyars had to pay the top facial hair tariff until it was abolished later in the 18th century.
It is also known that their high hats except the beard was a showing of their status, the higher the hat they had and the longer beard they had the higher social status they also had in noble rank in society. It is like the story of Samson and his long hair that was cut in his sleep, The power of the hair! A bit odd. The council of boyars and higher clergy was, from the 10th century, one of the three agencies—along with the prince and the assembly of the central government of Kyivan Rus'. Together with the prince, the council discussed and decided important matters of internal and foreign policy, religion, and legislation.
Sometimes it even ruled on the division of princely domains and sat as a court in judgment on princes and members of their families. The Boyar Council was a permanent political-judicial body, which was based on the prince's obligation to confer with the boyars of his domain. As boyar landownership increased and as the principalities became more numerous, smaller, and weaker, the power of the Boyar Council increased. Its power was determined to a great extent by local conditions, the traditions of the local principality, and its location.
The Boyar Council of Galicia had a particularly great and often detrimental influence on state affairs. It even went so far as to elect a boyar of non-princely lineage to the throne, a unique event in the history of Ukraine. Beyond the Ukrainian principalities, in Suzdal and Vladimir, the Boyar Council was only a “voluntarily called”, advisory body to the ruler. In Muscovy the council, which was called the Boyar Duma (1547–1711), was an advisory body of the absolute monarch and conducted itself according to the principle ‘the ruler has indicated his wish, and the boyars have passed sentence.’
Only when there was no tsar did the duma exercise its legislative and other powers independently. The Council of Lords in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was modeled on the Boyar Council. Next, let’s explore the Bulgarian and Slavic regions.
Until Boris I (852–889) the title of the Bulgarian monarchs was Knyaz. His son, Simeon I (893–927) adopted the title Tsar (Emperor) which became the title of the subsequent Bulgarian rulers.
Knyaz is a Slavic title found in most Slavic languages, denoting a royal nobility rank. It is usually translated into English either as Prince or less commonly as Duke/Earl/Lord. In the Vatican, some Croatian un-crowned rulers and kings, such as Duke Trpimir I and King Stjepan Drzislav, were referred to as "Dux Croatorum. Next...
Khan or Qagan is a title of imperial rank in the Mongolian and Turkic languages equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a khaganate (empire). The words "khagan" and "khan" are distinct today, though historically they were the same. It may also be translated as Khan of Khans, equivalent to King of Kings. In modern Mongolian, the title became Khaan with the 'g' sound becoming almost silent or non-existent the ğ in modern Turkish Kağan is also silent. For the purpose of this podcast, I will pronounce the ‘g’ sound.
Since the civil war of the Mongol Empire, Emperors of the Yuan Dynasty held the title of Khagan and their successors in Mongolia continued to have the title. Kağan is a common Turkish name in Turkey. A Khagan that liked all superstitious stuff and magic things was Genghis Khan. Ghenghis Kahn exempted the poor from taxes, encouraged literacy and established free religion, which is why many joined his Empire. Next, we will uncover where the term “Tsar” originated.
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers.
As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word Caesar, which was intended to mean "Emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term - a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official (the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch) - but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank. Occasionally, the word could be used to designate other, secular, supreme rulers.
In Russia and Bulgaria, the imperial connotations of the term were blurred with time, due to the medieval translations of the Bible, and, by the 19th century, it had come to be viewed as an equivalent of King. The first ruler to adopt the title tsar was Simeon I of Bulgaria. Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the last Tsar of Bulgaria, is the last person to have borne the title Tsar as well as being the last surviving person to do so.' The word emperor is a general word for a ruler having total control of a country or region. There are similar words for such all-powerful rulers in various countries: the Caesars in ancient Rome, the czars in Russia, the kaisers in Germany.
All these terms go back to one source: the first of the emperors of the Roman lands, known as Imperator Caesar Augustus. Augustus (whose name was really a title, meaning "majesty") was the adopted son of the great Roman general and ruler Julius Caesar. Augustus took the family name Caesar as part of his official name. Later emperors of Rome also used the name Caesar to show that they were heirs to the throne. This is how the word Caesar came to be used to mean "an emperor of Rome." The word Caesar was pronounced Kaisar in the Germanic languages of Europe. It is from this word that we got our English word Kaiser for "a ruler in Germany."
Through the Russian word tsar', which also came from the Germanic word kaiser, we got our English word czar, meaning "a ruler in Russia." Use of the word emperor itself can also be traced back to Imperator Caesar Augustus. The Latin word Imperator was originally a title given to great Roman generals. The word meant "commander," and it was derived from the verb imperare "to command." It is because Augustus, the first Roman emperor, used imperator as a title that we use emperor as we do today.
Tradition says that in the Sixth century on the territory came tribes Krivichy, and in Eighth century Slavic settlement in East European Plain tribe came Ilmenskie Slovenians. In the same area inhabited the Finno Ugric tribes who have left the memory of themselves in the names of many rivers and lakes.  The title and caste of royalty had deep implications. As mentioned earlier, Caeser Augustus was an adapted heir of Julius Caeser; yet he took on his name and assumed position of royalty. There are other historical accounts of possible non-bloodline-lineage rulers as well.
Constantius was born in Dacia Ripensis, a Roman province on the south bank of the Middle Danube – the empire's frontier – with its capital at modern Archar. He was the son of Eutropius, whom the Historia Augusta claimed to be a nobleman from the province of Moesia Superior. Modern historians suspect this maternal connection to be a genealogical fabrication created by his son Constantine I, and that his family was actually of humble origins.
The claim that Constantius was descended from Claudius Gothicus is attested only after 310 and does not appear to have been made while Constantius was alive. While the claim that he had been made a dux under the emperor Probus is probably a fabrication, he certainly attained the rank of tribunus within the army, and during the reign of Carus he was raised to the position of governor, of the province of Dalmatia.
It has been conjectured that Constantius switched allegiances to support the claims of the future brutal murderous-emperor Diocletian just before Diocletian defeated Carinus at the Battle of the Margus in July 285. In 286, Diocletian elevated a military colleague, Maximian, to the throne as co-emperor of the western provinces, while Diocletian took over the eastern provinces, beginning the process that would eventually see the division of the Roman Empire into two halves, a Western and an Eastern portion.
By 288, his period as governor now over, Constantius had been made Praetorian Prefect in the west under Maximian. Throughout 287 and into 288, Constantius, under the command of Maximian, was involved in a war against the Alamanni, carrying out attacks on the territory of the barbarian tribes across the Rhine and Danube rivers. To consolidate the ties between himself and Emperor Maximian, Constantius divorced his concubine Helena and married the emperor's daughter, Theodora.
By 293, Diocletian, conscious of the ambitions of his co-emperor for his new son-in-law, allowed Maximian to promote Constantius in a new power sharing arrangement known as the Tetrarchy. The eastern and western provinces would each be ruled by an Augustus, supported by a Caesar. Both Caesars had the right of succession once the ruling Augustus died. At Milan on March 1, 293, Constantius was formally appointed as Maximian's Caesar. He adopted the name "Flavius Valerius Constantius", and, being equated with Maximian, also took on "Herculius".
His given command consisted of Gaul, Britannia and possibly Hispania. Diocletian, the eastern Augustus, in order to keep the balance of power in the imperium, elevated Galerius as his Caesar, possibly on May 21, 293 at Plovdiv. Constantius was the more senior of the two Caesars, and on official documents he always took precedence, being mentioned before Galerius. In 305 Constantius crossed over into Britain, travelled to the far north of the island and launched a military expedition against the Picts, claiming a victory against them and the title Britannicus Maximus II by January 7, 306.
After retiring to York for the winter, Constantius had planned to continue the campaign, but July 25, 306, he died. As he was dying, Constantius recommended his son to the army as his successor; consequently, Constantine was declared emperor by the legions at York.  Skipping over a few Centuries later, we find a similar story of questionable bloodline royalty in Russia. However, this time, the ruler or tsar had bitterness infested throughout his soul.
Ivan the Terrible was the first tsar of all Russia. He was the grandson of Ivan the Great. Ivan the Terrible, or Ivan IV, acquired vast amounts of land during his long reign (1533-1584), an era marked by the conquest of the khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberia. Ivan the Terrible created a centrally controlled Russian state, imposed by military dominance.
Many believe him to have been mentally ill. One of his violent outbursts was perhaps the reason for his son's death. Ivan IV, had a complex personality. Intelligent yet prone to outbreaks of uncontrollable rage, Ivan's tragic background contributed to his infamous behavior. Not a lot of detail is known about his early life, and historians debate his accomplishments as a leader. However, it is generally agreed that his reign established the current Russian territory and centralized government for centuries to come.
Ivan the Terrible was born Ivan Chetvyorty Vasilyevich on August 25, 1530, in the Grand Duchy of Muscovy, Russia, to members of the Rurik dynasty. His father, Basil III, died when he was 3 years old. His mother, Elena Glinskaya, ruled as regent until her death in 1538 when Ivan was 8. During this time, the realm rapidly degenerated into chaos as rival boyar (noble) families disputed the legitimacy of her rule.
The court intrigue and constant danger that Ivan was exposed to while growing up molded much of his ruthless and suspicious nature. Evidence indicates that Ivan was a sensitive, intelligent boy, neglected and occasionally scorned by members of the nobility who looked after him after his parents' death. The environment nurtured his hatred for the boyar class, whom he suspected of being involved in his mother's death.
He reportedly tortured small animals as a boy, yet still managed to develop a taste for literature and music. In 1547, Ivan IV was crowned tsar of Muscovy. That same year, he married Anastasia Romanovna. In 1549, Ivan appointed a council of advisers, a consensus-building assembly who helped institute his reforms. During what is considered the constructive period of his reign, he introduced self-government in rural regions, reformed tax collection, and instituted statutory law and church reform.
In 1556, he instituted regulations on the obligations of the boyar class in service of the crown. In foreign policy, Ivan IV had two main goals: to resist the Mongol Golden Horde and to gain access to the Baltic Sea. Ultimately, he aimed to conquer all remaining independent regions and create a larger, more centralized Russia. In 1552 and 1556, Ivan's armies crushed the Tartar khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan, respectively.
This extended Muscovy control to the Urals in the east and the Caspian Sea in the south, creating a buffer zone against the Mongols. (Ivan commissioned St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square, built between 1555 and 1561, to commemorate the conquest of the Tatar city of Kazan.) Ivan was not as successful, however, at annexing Lithuania and gaining access to the Baltic: One of his advisers defected to Lithuania and led its army to defeat Ivan IV's offensive. While his initial efforts were successful, Ivan the Terrible's methods disrupted the economy and culture.
He seized private lands and redistributed them among his supported, and created a police force dressed all in black, astride black horses, that existed more to crush dissent than to keep the peace. Thusly, Ivan was not a popular leader, and his unpopularity would continue to grow over the next several years. Upon the death of his first wife in 1560, Ivan IV went into a deep depression and his behavior became more erratic. His suspicion that she had been murdered by the boyars only deepened his paranoia. He left Moscow suddenly and threatened to abdicate the throne.
Leaderless, the Muscovites pleaded for his return. He agreed, but on the condition that he be granted absolute power of the region surrounding Moscow, known as the oprichnina. He also demanded the authority to punish traitors and law breakers with execution and confiscation of property. Over the next 24 years, Ivan IV conducted a reign of terror, displacing and destroying the major boyar families in the region, and earning the moniker by which he's now best known. (He's also known by the nickname "Grozny," which roughly translates as "formidable or sparking terror or fear.")
It was during this period that Ivan beat his pregnant daughter-in-law, causing a miscarriage, killed his son in a subsequent fit of rage, and blinded the architect of St. Basil's Cathedral. It was also during this time that he created the Oprichniki, the first official secret Russian police force. In 1584, with his health failing, Ivan the Terrible became obsessed with death, calling upon witches and soothsayers to sustain him, but to no avail. The end came on March 18, 1584, when Ivan died of an apparent stroke.
He had willed the kingdom to his unfit son, Feodor, whose rule spiraled Russia into the catastrophic Time of Troubles, leading to the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty. When Ivan the Terrible died, he left the country in disarray, with deep political and social scars. Russia would not merge from the chaos until the reign of Peter the Great more than a century later.  Ultimately, regardless of the title attached to a name, it’s the legacy that really matters. They can call themselves Boyar, Tsar, or Emperor. No matter what, it is the way they treat the people as to what lives on into infamy.
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