Czar, Or Tzar, a title of the sovereigns of Russia, meaning king or lord. It has been supposed to be a corruption of the Latin Caesar, in the sense of the German Kaiser, but the ancient Slavic translation of the Bible has he-sar for and tzar for king. Karamzin and others, therefore., compare the term with the syllable sar found in the names of the Assyrian and Babylonian monarchs Phalassar (Pileser), Nabonassar, and Nabopolassar, and with the Hebrew sar (commander, chief). The Mongols used the same appellation, and probably the Russians adopted it from them. It is used by Russian annalists as early as the 12th century; but as the official title of the monarch it dates from the 16th. Before this period they styled themselves grand princes (velikoi kniazh) of Kiev, Novgorod, Vladimir, Moscow, etc. Basil Ivanovitch assumed in 1505 the title of samoderzhetz, or autocrat; his son Ivan the Terrible was crowned in 1547 as czar. After the annexation of Smolensk and the Ukraine, the title of czar of Moscow was changed into that of czar of Great, White, and Little Russia (of all the Russias). Though the word czar was used by the Russians also to designate the emperors of the West, as well as of the East (hence the name Tzargorod, city of the emperor, for Constantinople), Peter the Great, to be without contradiction ranked among the monarchs of the highest category, in 1721 assumed in addition the title of impe-rator, or emperor.
In the long negotiations for the acknowledgment of this dignity, which was contested by many states of Europe, it was proved that Maximilian I., who in 1514 concluded a treaty of alliance with Russia against Poland, had used the term emperor (Kaiser) for czar, and that the same was done by other powers in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was not, however, till the reign of Catharine II. that Poland, Spain, and Turkey acknowledged the imperial dignity of Russia. The wife of the czar was anciently called tza-ritza; his sons had the title of tzarevitch, his daughters that of tzarevna. Since the death of Alexei, the latter appellations have been replaced by those of grand prince and grand princess (generally rendered grand duke and grand duchess). Constantine, the second son of Paul I., received in 1799 the title of tzesare-vitch, which was bestowed after his death in 1831, by the emperor Nicholas, upon his own son Alexander (now the reigning emperor). The wife of the latter received the title of tzesarevna. The crown prince Alexander Alex-androvitch, born in 1845, now bears the former title.
The empress is styled in Russian impe-ratritza. The popular Russian appellation of the sovereign is still czar, or hosudar (hospo-dar, lord). Czar was also the ancient title of the princes of Grusia, or Georgia, and Imere-thia, now Russian provinces.