principality(redirected from principalities)
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(in Russian, kniazhestvo), a monarchical state headed by a prince and most typical of the period of feudal fragmentation. In ancient Rus’ the first principalities were established between the ninth and early tenth centuries. In the 11th to 12th centuries a number of principalities broke away from Kievan Rus’ (which in turn disintegrated into appanages held by representatives of the princely family) and were named after their capitals (for example, the principalities of Riazan’ and Vladimir). The largest of them were called grand principalities. From the end of the 15th century through the early 16th the principalities of northeastern Rus’ were united to form a centralized Russian state under the Grand Principality of Moscow.
In other states, the principality (in German, Fürstentum and in French, principauté) was also the typical political formation of the period of feudal fragmentation. Territorial principalities continued to exist in Germany until they were united to form the German Empire in 1871. A number of principalities still exist (Liechtenstein and Monaco in Western Europe and the Arab principalities on the Persian Gulf [United Arab Emirates]). Until 1950 there were principalities in India.