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Tsar (/zɑːr, sɑːr/ or /tsɑːr/), also spelled czar, or tzar or csar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally the Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards, much later a title for two rulers of the Serbian State, and from 1547 the supreme ruler of the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire. In this last capacity it lends its name to a system of government, tsarist autocracy or tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word caesar, which was intended to mean "emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official (the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch)—but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.

"Tsar" and its variants were the official titles of the following states:

The first ruler to adopt the title tsar was Simeon I of Bulgaria.[2] Simeon II, the last tsar of Bulgaria, is the last person to have borne the title tsar.

Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia.

This was related to Russia's growing ambitions to become an Orthodox "Third Rome", after the Fall of Constantinople. The Muscovite ruler was recognized as a

This was related to Russia's growing ambitions to become an Orthodox "Third Rome", after the Fall of Constantinople. The Muscovite ruler was recognized as an emperor by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in 1514.[12][13][14] However, the first Russian ruler to be formally crowned as Tsar of All Rus (Russian: Царь Всея Руси) was Ivan IV, until then known as Grand Prince of all the Russias. Some foreign ambassadors—namely, Herberstein (in 1516 and 1525), Daniel Printz a Buchau (in 1576 and 1578) and Just Juel (in 1709)—indicated that the word "tsar" should not be translated as "emperor", because it is applied by Russians to David, Solomon and other Biblical kings, who are simple reges.[15] On the other hand, Jacques Margeret, a bodyguard of False Demetrius I, argues that the title of "tsar" is more honorable for Muscovites than "kaiser" or "king" exactly because it was God and not some earthly potentate who ordained to apply it to David, Solomon, and other kings of Israel.[16] Samuel Collins, a court physician to Tsar Alexis in 1659–66, styled the latter "Great Emperour", commenting that "as for the word Czar, it has so near relation to Cesar... that it may well be granted to signifie Emperour. The Russians would have it to be an higher title than King, and yet they call David Czar, and our kings, Kirrols, probably from Carolus Quintus, whose history they have among them".[17]

In 1610 Sigismund III of Poland manipulated his son Władysław IV's election as tsar of Russia while Polish forces held Moscow during the Time of Troubles following the death of Boris Godunov. His election, which never resulted in his assumption of the Muscovite throne, was part of an unsuccessful plan by Sigismund to conquer all of Russia and convert the population to Catholicism. As a young man Władysław showed ability as a military leader in operations against Muscovy (1617–18) and the In 1610 Sigismund III of Poland manipulated his son Władysław IV's election as tsar of Russia while Polish forces held Moscow during the Time of Troubles following the death of Boris Godunov. His election, which never resulted in his assumption of the Muscovite throne, was part of an unsuccessful plan by Sigismund to conquer all of Russia and convert the population to Catholicism. As a young man Władysław showed ability as a military leader in operations against Muscovy (1617–18) and the Ottoman Empire (1621).[18]

In 1670, Pope Clement X expressed doubts that it would be appropriate for him to address Alexis as "tsar", because the word is "barbarian" and because it stands for an emperor, a title reserved for the Holy Roman Emperor. Abbot Scarlati's opined that the term is not translatable and therefore may be used by the Pope without any harm. In order to settle the matter and to assert his imperial ambitions more clearly, Peter I the Great issued an edict that raised Russia to an empire and decreed that the Latin title imperator should be used instead of tsar (1721).

The title tsar remained in common usage, and also officially as the designator of various titles signifying rule over various states absorbed by the Muscovite monarchy (such as the former Tatar khanates and the Georgian Orthodox kingdom). In the 18th century, it was increasingly viewed as inferior to "emperor" or highlighting the oriental side of the term.[19] Upon annexing Crimea in 1783, Catherine the Great adopted the hellenicized title "tsaritsa of Tauric Chersonesos", rather than "tsaritsa of the Crimea". By 1815, when a large part of Poland was annexed, the title had clearly come to be interpreted in Russia as the equivalent of Polish król ("king"), and the Russian emperor assumed the title "tsar of Poland".[20]

Since the word "tsar" remained the popular designation of the Russian ruler despite the official change of style, it is commonly used in foreign languages such as English.

Like many lofty titles, such as mogul, tsar or czar has been used in English as a metaphor for positions of high authority since 1866 (referring to U.S. President Andrew Johnson), with a connotation of dictatorial powers and style, fitting since "autocrat" was an official title of the Russian Emperor (informally referred to as 'the tsar'). Similarly, Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed was called "Czar Reed" for his dictatorial control of the House of Representatives in the 1880s and 1890s.

In the United States and in the United Kingdom the title "czar" is a colloquial term for certain high-level civil servants, such as the "drug czar" for the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (not to be confused with a drug baron), "terrorism c

In the United States and in the United Kingdom the title "czar" is a colloquial term for certain high-level civil servants, such as the "drug czar" for the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (not to be confused with a drug baron), "terrorism czar" for a presidential advisor on terrorism policy, "cybersecurity czar" for the highest-ranking Department of Homeland Security official on computer security and information security policy, and "war czar" to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More specifically, a czar in the US government typically refers to a sub-cabinet-level advisor within the executive branch. One of the earliest known usages of the term was for Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who was named commissioner of baseball, with broad powers to clean up the sport after it had been sullied by the Black Sox scandal of 1919.[21]