Starost(a) (Cyrillic: старост/а, Latin: capitaneus, German: Starost) as a title designates an official or unofficial leader, used in various contexts through most of Slavic history. One can translate it as "senior" or "elder": the word comes from the Slavic root star-, "old". In Poland a starosta would administer a territory called a starostwo.
In the early Middle Ages, the starosta was the head of a Slavic community or of other communities: thus one finds designations such as church starosta, artel starosta, etc. The starosta also functioned as the master of ceremonies in traditional Carpatho-Rusyn, Ukrainian, and Polish weddings, similar to stari svat (стари сват) in Serbian weddings.
In various countries
- In the history of Poland, see "Starostwo".
- In Ruthenia (Kievan Rus) it was a lower government official.
- In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, starosta is the title of a mayor of a town or village (mayors of major cities use the title primátor).
- In Lithuania since 1991, starosta (Lithuanian: seniūnas) is the title of the head of a province.
- In Galicia and Bukovina under Austrian rule a starosta supervised the county administration.
- In Russia the word was used until the early 20th century to denote the elected leader of obshchina.
- In Ukraine during 1918 it was a post of an appointed official who represented the central government in regions. From 2015 is an official of a village that is a part of the united commune.
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