The difference between Czar and King

08 Jan
The difference between Czar and King

Ever wondered why a British monarch was called “king” and an Imperial Russia’s monarch was called “czar”? Both august fellows seem to perform identical duties, but for some reason are being called differently. Why? Let’s find out!

The original Latin word “rex” means leader, ruler, chieftain or monarch. It has the same meaning as Sankrit word “rajan”, better known as “maharaja” (great king). While the word “rex” is not in active use today, it’s traces can be found in many modern words, such as “di-rect”, “regis”, “Regina” and “Reich”

The English word “king” is a combination of Anglo-Saxon words “kin” and “son of”. You know, back in the day where men were chosen to lead rather than born, the kings were meant to take care of their people.

Here’s another word – “Caesar“. Originally a surname of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, the word became a synonym for “king” shortly after he got stabbed. Many Roman emperors were including this word in their official titles without hesitation.

Lastly, there was this great King of Franks and everybody was calling him Charlemagne. In Latin his name was “Karolus Magnus” and in English “Charles the Great”. The modern male names “Charles”, “Karl” and “Carl” are direct descendants of this king’s name.

Now to the point. The Slavic word “tzar” (also tsar or czar) is directly derived from “Caesar”. For the same reason many German emperors had a the title of “Kaiser”, even though in German language there’s a different word for a king – “Konig”. And most Slavic languages, including Russian, have a word reserved for any Western European king: korol’ (король) – a descendant of the Charlemagne’s Latin name Karolus.

So in an unlikely case you’re ruling over a Slavic country your title will be “czar”, but if your little kingdom lies way out West, your title will be “king”. Hail Caesar!



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Posted by on January 8, 2016 in History, Kings and Queens


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