The Grand Prince, who ruled from Kiev, controlled a large territory around his city. A series of lesser princes ruled neighboring city-states, and paid tribute to the Grand Prince. These lesser princes had a great deal of freedom and autonomy in how they ruled their own territory. The lesser princes governed the day to day, while the Grand Prince provided protection in the form of a military.
Princes could be removed from power through the collective authority of a council of merchants and nobles known as boyars. These councils represented all free male citizens.