A voivodeship is the area administered by a voivode (Governor) in several countries of central and eastern Europe. Voivodeships have existed since medieval times and the area of extent of voivodeship resembles that of a duchy in western medieval states, much as the title of voivode was equivalent to that of a duke. Other roughly equivalent titles and areas in medieval Eastern Europe included ban (bojan, vojin or bayan) and banate.
A voi(e)vod(e) (literally, "leader of warriors" or "war leader", equivalent to the Latin "Dux Exercituum" and the German "Herzog") was originally a military commander who stood, in a state's structure, next to the ruler. Later the word came to denote an administrative official.
Words for "voivodeship" in various languages include the Polish: województwo; the Romanian: voievodat; the Bulgarian: voivoda (?); the Serbian: vojvodina (), vojvodstvo (?) or vojvodovina (); the Hungarian: vajdaság; the Belarusian: ? (vaj?vodstva); the Lithuanian: vaivadija. Some of these words, or variants of them, may also be used in English.
Though the word "voivodeship" (other spellings are "voievodship" and "voivodship") appears in English dictionaries such as the OED and Webster's, it is not in common general usage, and voivodeships in Poland and elsewhere are frequently referred to as "provinces". Depending on context, historic voivodeships may also be referred to as "duchies", "palatinates" (the Latin word "palatinatus" was used for a voivodeship in Poland), "administrative districts" or "regions".
Historical voivodeships in the territory of modern Serbia include the Voivodeship of Salan (9th-10th centuries), Voivodeship of Sermon (11th century) and Voivodeship of Syrmia of Radoslav ?elnik (1527-1530). A voivodeship called Serbian Vojvodina was established in 1848-1849; this was transformed into the Voivodeship of Serbia and Temes Banat, a land within the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1849 to 1860. This is the origin of the name of the present-day Serbian autonomous province of Vojvodina.
For more information about the divisions of Polish lands in particular periods, see Administrative divisions of Poland ("Historical").
Voivodeships in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1795):
Voivodeships of Poland, 1921-1939:
Voivodeships of Poland, 1945-1975:
Voivodeships of Poland, 1975-1998: