Minor Russian Principalities

Mediaeval Russia was a vast network of hierarchically arranged Principalities (Knyazy), with the great sovereign states (Veliky Knyazy) such as Kiev, Vladimir, and Tver at the top. Each of these controlled or influenced lesser Principalities, and these in turn held in fief sub-Principalities. Here are some notes on the small, grass-roots level states which exerted authority on a local level.

Presently this covers: Andoga, Bokhtyuga, Chernyatin, Dorogobuzh-Tverskoi, Galich-Mersky, Kargolom, Kashin, Kema, Kholm, Kolomna, Kostroma, Mikulin, Pereyaslavl-Zalesskiy, Pronsk, Rylsk, Sheleshpansk, Shuya, Starodub-Seversky, Starodub-Zalesskiy, Sugorye, Telyatev, Trubchevsk, Uglich, Ukhtoma, Vadbol, Vertyazin, Yelets, Yuryev-Polsky, Zaraysk, and Zubtsov.

See also: Belarus, the Caucasus, Central Asia - West, Crimea, Mongols, Nomads, Russia, and Ukraine.


Álaborg or Áluborg is the name of a Varangian fort mentioned in the Norse sagas and situated in northwest Russia. Archeologists have tentatively identified an abandoned fortress on the S'as River - roughly 100 miles (160 km.) east of St. Petersburg - as the site of Alaborg.

ANDOGA (Andoma)
A sub-Principality in fief to Beloozero, with territories along the Andoga river basin southwest of Beloozero. This district was reserved to Pr.George when Beloozero passed to Pr.John of Mozhaysk in 1389.

BOKHTYUGA Most probably this was a territory somewhere near Rostov, but possibly it was within Kostroma  where there is a river Bokhtyuga. It was given as a sub-principality to John, son of Pr. Andrew of Rostov-Ustretensk when
(after Andrew's death) the Ustretenian part of the Rostov principality was annexed by Moscow.

CHERNYATINAn ephemeral sub-principality within the authority of Tver.

DOROGOBUZH (-Tverskoi)A town in modern Kalinin oblast of the Russian Federation. A sub-Principality within the orbit of Tver during the Middle Ages.

GALICH (-Mersky) A town in Kostroma oblast of Russian Federation, about 230 miles (370 km.) northeast of Moscow, and 125 miles (200 km.) north northwest of Gorky. It was built in the land of Finnish tribe Merya (now assimilated) and called Galich-Merskiy to distinguish from Galich in South-West Russia, center of Galitzia. It became a Grand Principality from 1246 (in personal union with Dmitrov from 1249), a Principality within the Muscovite orbit in 1334, and a sub-Principality under Moscow in 1389.

KARGOLOMTerritories at west bank of Sheksna, to south from Beloozero, between Andoga and Sugorye. It was a sub-Principality under Beloozero in the late 14th and much of the 15th centuries.

KASHINTown in modern Kalinin region of Russian Federation 70 miles (115 km.) northeast of Tver. Possession as a sub-Ptincipality of a junior branch of the Tverian family in 1318-1382. From 1399 its rulers were princes of Kashin and Kalyazin.

KEMA Territories in the Kema river basin, north of White Lake (Byelo Ozero). A sub-Principality under Beloozero in the 14th and 15th centuries.

KHOLM Town (now called Knyazhi Gory - the Hills of the Prince) in modern Kalinin oblast of the Russian Federation 55 miles (90 km) south of Tver. It was a aub-Principality within Tver 1318-1328 and 1337-1425. Sub-Prince John bequeathed Kholm to his cousin Great Prince John of Tver, who passed it over to his own son Alexander. George, brother of sub-Prince John, retained the title of Prince of Kholm, without any lands or estates to go with it. In 1403 he emigrated to Moscow, but in 1407 he approached the Golden Horde to ask for his rights returned to him. He wasn't successful, but as it happens, his grandson Daniel Dmitriyevich Kholmskiy led the Muscovite army that captured Tver in 1485.

KOLOMNA a sub-principality, in fief to various central Russian states. Located about 60 miles southeast of Moscow.

KOSTROMA Modern center of Kostroma oblast of the Russian Federation. It was a grand principality in the 13th century, after which it came under Vladimiran rule. It very briefly re-emerged as a sub-Principality in 1304.

MIKULIN Town in modern Moscow oblast in the Russian Federation 80 miles (135 km.) northwest of Moscow and 25 miles (45 km.) south of Tver. A sub-Principality within Tverian land.

PEREYASLAVL (-Zalesskiy) A town in modern Yaroslavl oblast of the Russian Federation. It was called P.-Z. (P.-of-the-Forest) to distinguish it from P.-Russkiy (Russian P.), P.-Ryazanskiy (Ryazanian P.) and Pereyaslavets (Little P.). A sub-Principality under Vladimir in the late 12th century, it was a Grand Principality 1212-302, within the Tatar orbit. The last prince bequeathed his possession to Gr. Pr. Daniel of Moscow, thus sparking the 1st Moscow-Tverian War (1304-1318) which resulted in Muscovite hegemony over North-Russian lands, since in accordance with Russian law only the Gr. Pr. of Vladimir might dispose of the lands of extinct lines.

PRONSK A sub-Principality, usually under Riazan. The town is located about 35 miles south of (Modern) Riazan.

RYLSK A town in the Kursk oblast of Russia, about 60 miles (100 km) west of Kursk, and roughly 10 or 12 miles east of the Belarus frontier.

SHELESHPANSK Territories within the river basin of the Shola, to the west of White Lake. A sub-Principality under Beloozero in the 14th and 15th centuries.

SHUYA A town in modern Ivanovo oblast of the Russian Federation, about 18 miles (30 km.) southwest of Ivanovo. Briefly comprising a sub-principality under Moscow, Prince George was ancestor of the Shuisky branch, who held the Tsardom in the early 17th century, during the Time of Troubles.

STARODUB (-Seversky) A town in modern Bryansk region of Russia (120 km south-west from Bryansk).

STARODUB (-Zalesky) A town in modern Ivanovo oblast of the Russian Federation. A Grand Principality to 1330, a Principality within the orbit of Muscovy 1330-1389.

SUGORYE A hilly territory along the east bank of Sheksna, to the southeast of Beloozero. A sub-Principality under Beloozero until the Muscovite expansion into Beloozerskiy in the 1480's.

TELYATEVTown in modern Kalinin region of Russian Federation.

TRUBCHEVSK (TRUBETSK)Town in modern Bryansk region of Russian Federation, about 50 miles (80 km.) southwest of Bryansk. A sub-Principality under Novgorod-Severskiy 1164-1212, it was elevated to the status of Principality 1212-1378.

UGLICH A town in modern Yaroslavl oblast of the Russian Federation. A Grand Principality 1218-1285, a Principality within Rostov 1287-1339, within Muscovy 1339-1389, a sub-Principality under Moscow 1389-1591. The last Prince in this list, Demetrius III, a 9 year-old child at his death, was a son of John IV the Awesome (Ivan the Terrible); he died under ambiguous circumstances, being killed in what might have been an accident, an unintended casualty of a drunken brawl on the part of some servants, or concievably the victim of an assassination. His somewhat mysterious demise permitted the appearance of a number of pretenders to the throne some years after, each claiming to be Prince Demetrius, miraculously not slain after all and now returned: the so-called "False Dmitriys" of the Time of Troubles.

UKHTOMATerritories on the east shore of White Lake. A sub-Principality under Beloozero in the 15th century.

VADBOL Territories in the upper river basin of the Suda, to the west of Andoga. A sub-Principality under Beloozero in the 15th century.

VERTYAZIN Town in modern Kalinin region of Russian Federation. Sub-Prince Simeon granted this town to Michael of Mikulin instead his brother Pr. Jeremias of Dorogobuzh. A war within Tver was fought as a result, which led to Michael becoming Gr. Prince of Tver.

YELETS A small Principality located about 200 miles south of Moscow. Associated with Peremyshl 1364-1370's, separate from the 1370's until its absorption by Moscow in the 1450's.

YURYEV(-Polsky) A town in modern Yaroslavl oblast of the Russian Federation. An obscure Grand Principality of the 13th and 14th centuries.

ZARAYSK A town roughly 40 miles northwest of (New) Riazan, and about 75 miles southeast of Moscow.

ZUBTSOV Town in modern Kalinin region of Russian Federation (110 km south-west from Tver). Briefly a sub-Principality within Tverian land.