From the Tsar to Martini…

Actually, to Bohuslav Martinu: Russian Tsars in Czech and Slovak operas and other curiosities discussed on LanguageHat’s blog.


  1. That was interesting. I never knew that Tatar khans were called “tsar”. I always thought “khan” just about summed it all up. Ghengis tsar… doesn’t sound right to me!

    And what about that “hleb” thing, and how could it possibly relate to “people”? I’d understand “hleb” – “hlev”, lol, but people? Nope. Ideas?

  2. The first has to do with Old Church Slavonic: the kings of the Old Testament, good or bad, are “tsars.” Thus powerful foreign rulers were called tsars, while St. Vladimir, for one, was a “knyaz'” or “kagan” (akin to khan, possibly a Khazar loan). BTW, Genghis did not live to attack Rus’ though his generals defeated Russian princes in the Kalka battle.

    As for “hleb,” I still have no idea how and whether it is related to either “lyudi” or “narod.”

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