a class of petty feudal lords that emerged in Rus’ in the 15th century. The deti boiarskie performed compulsory service, in return for which they received pomest’ia (fiefs) from princes, boyars, and the church; they did not have the right to leave service. They were the off-spring of the younger members of the princely retinues (otroki) or of the increasingly weak boyar families.
With the formation of the centralized Russian state, a great number of the deti boiarskie transferred their service to Moscow. In the 15th and first half of the 16th century the designation deti boiarskie was considered higher than the dvoriane (nobility or gentry), a class that was often descended from unfree servants of the princes of the appanage period. In the 16th century the deti boiarskie split into dvorovye deti (attendants of the tsar’s court), who belonged to the top stratum of the ruling class, and gorodovye deti (provincial service men). The term deti boiarskie disappeared during the early 18th-century reforms, with the fusion of the sluzhilye liudi (military servitors) into one class—the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry).