List of German monarchs  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

This article lists the German monarchs, ruling over the territory of Germany from the creation of a separate Eastern Frankish Kingdom in 843 until the end of German monarchy in 1918.

The relationship between the title of "king" and "emperor" in the area that is today called Germany is just as complicated as the history and the structure of the Holy Roman Empire itself. The following remarks may clarify things a little (for details, refer to the Holy Roman Empire article):

  1. The Holy Roman Empire (although only titled as such much later) started when Charlemagne, King of the Franks and the Lombards, was crowned Emperor of the Romans in 800. The Kingdom of Germany started out as the eastern section of the Frankish kingdom, which was split by the Treaty of Verdun in 843. The rulers of the eastern area thus called themselves rex Francorum, king of the Franks, and later just rex. A reference to the "Germans", indicating the emergence of a German nation of some sort, did not appear until the eleventh century, when the pope referred to his enemy Henry IV as rex teutonicorum, King of the Teutons, in order to brand him as a foreigner. The kings reacted by consistently using the title rex Romanorum, King of the Romans, to emphasize their universal rule even before becoming Emperor. This title remained until the end of the Empire in 1806 (but in this and related entries, the kings are called kings of Germany, for clarity's sake.)
  2. The Kingdom of Germany was never entirely hereditary; instead, ancestry was only one of the factors that determined the succession of kings. The king was formally elected by the leading nobility in the realm, continuing the Frankish tradition. Gradually the election became the privilege of a group of princes called Electors and the Golden Bull of 1356 formally defined election proceedings.
  3. In the Middle Ages, the King did not assume the title "Emperor" (since 982 the full title was Imperator Augustus Romanorum, Venerable Emperor of the Romans) until crowned by the Pope. He also had to be crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy, after which he assumed the title of rex Italicum, King of Italy. After this he would ride on to Rome and be crowned Emperor by the Pope.
  4. Maximilian I was the first King to bear the title of Emperor-Elect. After the failure in 1508 of his attempt to march to Rome and be crowned by the Pope, he had himself proclaimed Emperor-elect with papal consent. His successor Charles V also assumed that title after his coronation in 1520 until he was crowned Emperor by the Pope in 1530. From Ferdinand I onwards, all Emperors were merely Emperors-Elect, although they were normally referred to as Emperors. At the same time, chosen successors of the Emperors were called King of the Romans, if elected by the college of Electors during their predecessor's lifetime.


Eastern Frankish Kingdom, later the German Kingdom, 843-1806

This section covers the Eastern Frankish Kingdom, the eastern portion of the Frankish Empire after its partition by the Treaty of Verdun in 843. Later it became known as the Kingdom of Germany, which was the chief (and then sole) component of the Holy Roman Empire (of the German Nation).

The German Kingdom comprised the territory of modern Germany, but also Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Low Countries, as well as parts of modern France and Poland.


Emperors are listed in bold. Rival kings, anti-kings, and junior co-regents are italicized.

Name House King Emperor Ended Notes
Louis the German
(Ludwig II der Deutsche)
Carolingian 11 August 843 23 August 876 Son of Emperor Louis the Pious and grandson of Charlemagne
Louis the Younger
(Ludwig III der Jüngere)
Carolingian 28 August 876 20 January 882 Son of Louis the German; ruled in East Francia, Saxony, from 880 also Bavaria
Carolingian 28 August 876 22 March 880 Son of Louis the German; ruled in Bavaria; from 877 also King of Italy
Charles the Fat
(Karl III. der Dicke)
Carolingian 28 August 876 12 February 881 11 November 887 Son of Louis the German; ruled in Alemannia, Raetia, from 882 in the entire Eastern Kingdom; from 879 also King of Italy
Arnulf of Carinthia
(Arnulf von Kärnten)
Carolingian 30 November 887 25 April 896 8 December 899 Son of Carloman
Louis the Child
(Ludwig IV das Kind)
Carolingian 21 January 900 20/24 September 911 Son of Arnulf of Carinthia
Conrad I
(Konrad I)
Conradine (Franconian) 10 November 911 23 December 918  
Henry I the Fowler
(Heinrich I der Vogler)
Liudolfing 23 April 919 2 July 936  
Arnulf the Bad
(Arnulf der Böse, Herzog von Bayern)
Luitpolding (Bavarian) 919 921 Rival king to Henry I
Otto I the Great
(Otto I der Große)
Ottonian 7 August 936 2 February 962 7 May 973 Son of Henry I; first king crowned in Aachen Cathedral since Lothair I; crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 961.
Otto II the Red
(Otto II)
Ottonian 26 May 961 25 December 967 7 December 983 Son of Otto I;
King of Germany under his father 961–973;
also crowned Emperor in his father's lifetime
Otto III
(Otto III)
Ottonian 25 December 983 21 May 996 21 January 1002 Son of Otto II
Henry II
(Heinrich II der Heilige)
Ottonian 7 June 1002 26 April 1014 13 July 1024 Great-grandson of Henry I
Conrad II
(Konrad II)
Salian (Frankish) 8 September 1024 26 March 1027 4 June 1039 Great-great-grandson of Otto I
Henry III
(Heinrich III)
Salian 14 April 1028 25 December 1046 5 October 1056 Son of Conrad II;
King of Germany under his father 1028–1039
Henry IV
(Heinrich IV)
Salian 17 July 1054 21 March 1084 31 December 1105 Son of Henry III;
King of Germany under his father 1054–1056
Rudolf von Rheinfeld
(Rudolf von Rheinfelden)
Rheinfeld 15 March 1077 15 October 1080 Rival King to Henry IV
Hermann von Salm
(Hermann von Luxemburg, Graf von Salm)
Salm 6 August 1081 28 September 1088 Rival King to Henry IV
Salian 30 May 1087 27 July 1101 Son of Henry IV;
King of Germany under his father 1087–1098,
King of Italy 1093–1098, 1095–1101 in rebellion.
Henry V
(Heinrich V)
Salian 6 January 1099 13 April 1111 23 May 1125 Son of Henry IV;
King of Germany under his father 1099–1105, forced his father to abdicate.
Lothair III
(Lothar III)
Supplinburger 30 August 1125 4 June 1133 4 December 1137  
Conrad III
(Conrad III)
Hohenstaufen 7 March 1138 15 February 1152 Grandson of Henry IV (through his mother);
Previously Rival King to Lothair III 1127–1135
Henry Berengar
(Heinrich (VI))
Hohenstaufen 30 March 1147 August? 1150 Son of Conrad III;
King of Germany under his father 1147–1150
Frederick I Barbarossa
(Friedrich I Barbarossa)
Hohenstaufen 4 March 1152 18 June 1155 10 June 1190 Nephew of Conrad III
Henry VI
(Heinrich VI)
Hohenstaufen 15 August 1169 14 April 1191 28 September 1197 Son of Frederick I;
King of Germany under his father 1169–1190
Frederick II
(Friedrich II)
Hohenstaufen 1197 1197 Son of Henry VI;
King of Germany under his father 1196
Philip of Swabia
(Philipp von Schwaben)
Hohenstaufen 6 March 1198 21 August 1208 Son of Frederick I; Rival king to Otto IV
Otto IV
(Otto IV von Braunschweig)
Welf 29 March 1198 4 October 1209 5 July 1215 Rival king to Philip of Swabia; later opposed by Frederick II; deposed 1215; died 19 May 1218
Frederick II
(Friedrich II)
Hohenstaufen 5 December 1212 22 November 1220 26 December 1250 Son of Henry VI;
Rival king to Otto IV until 5 July 1215
(Heinrich (VII.))
Hohenstaufen 23 April 1220 15 August 1235 Son of Frederick II;
King of Germany under his father 1220–1235
Conrad IV
(Konrad IV)
Hohenstaufen May 1237 1 May 1254 Son of Frederick II;
King of Germany under his father 1237–1250
Henry Raspe
(Heinrich Raspe)
Thuringia 22 May 1246 16 February 1247 Rival King to Frederick II
William of Holland
(Wilhelm von Holland)
Holland 3 October 1247 28 January 1256 Rival King to Frederick II and Conrad IV, 1247–1254
Richard of Cornwall
(Richard von Cornwall)
Plantagenet 13 January 1257 2 April 1272 Rival king to Alfonso of Castile; held no real authority.
Alfonso of Castile
(Alfons von Kastilien)
House of Burgundy 1 April 1257 1275 Grandson of Philip; Rival king to Richard of Cornwall; held no authority; later opposed by Rudolf I; relinquished claims 1275, died 1284
Rudolf I
(Rudolf I von Habsburg)
Habsburg 29 September 1273 15 July 1291  
Adolf of Nassau
(Adolf von Nassau)
Nassau 5 May 1292 23 June 1298 According to some historians, Adolf's election was preceded by the short-lived kingship of Conrad, Duke of Teck. See his article for details.
Albert I
(Albrecht I von Habsburg)
Habsburg 24 June 1298 1 May 1308 Son of Rudolf I; Rival King to Adolf of Nassau, 1298
Henry VII
(Heinrich VII, Luxemburger)
Luxembourg 27 November 1308 13 June 1311 24 August 1313  
Louis IV
(Ludwig IV., der Bayer, Wittelsbacher)
Wittelsbach 20 October 1314 17 January 1328 11 October 1347 Grandson of Rudolf I; Rival king to Frederick the Fair 1314–1322
Frederick the Fair
(Friedrich der Schöne, Habsburger)
Habsburg 19 October 1314/
5 September 1325
28 September 1322/
13 January 1330
Son of Albert I;
Rival king to Louis IV 1314–1322;
associate king with Louis IV 1325–1330
Charles IV
(Karl IV. von Luxemburg)
Luxembourg 11 July 1346 5 April 1355 29 November 1378 Grandson of Henry VII; Rival king to Louis IV, 1346–1347
Günther von Schwarzburg
(Günther von Schwarzburg)
Schwarzburg 30 January 1349 24 May 1349 Rival King to Charles IV
(Wenzel von Luxemburg)
Luxembourg 10 June 1376 20 August 1400 Son of Charles IV; King of Germany under his father 1376–1378; deposed 1400; died 1419
Rupert of Palatinate
(Ruprecht von der Pfalz, Wittelsbacher)
Wittelsbach 21 August 1400 18 May 1410 Great-grandnephew of Louis IV
(Sigismund von Luxemburg)
Luxembourg 20 September 1410/
21 July 1411
3 May 1433 9 December 1437 Son of Charles IV
Jobst of Moravia
(Jobst von Mähren, Luxemburger)
Luxembourg 1 October 1410 8 January 1411 Nephew of Charles IV; Rival King to Sigismund
Albert II
(Albrecht II)
Habsburg 18 March 1438 27 October 1439 4th in descent from Albert I;
son-in-law of Sigismund
Frederick III
(Friedrich III)
Habsburg 2 February 1440 16 March 1452 19 August 1493 4th in descent from Albert I; 2nd cousin of Albert II
Maximilian I
(Maximilian I)
Habsburg 16 February 1486 4 February 1508
12 January 1519 Son of Frederick III; King of Germany under his father 1486–1493; adopted the title Emperor-elect in 1508 with the Pope's approval
Charles V
(Karl V)
Habsburg 28 June 1519 24 February 1530 3 August 1556 Grandson of Maximilian I; died 21 September 1558
Ferdinand I
(Ferdinand I)
Habsburg 5 January 1531 14 March 1558
25 July 1564 Grandson of Maximilian I; brother of Charles V; King of Germany under his brother Charles V 1531–1556; last king to be crowned in Aachen Cathedral.
Maximilian II
(Maximilian II)
Habsburg 22 November 1562 25 July 1564
12 October 1576 Son of Ferdinand I;
King of Germany under his father 1562–1564
Rudolf II
(Rudolf II)
Habsburg 27 October 1575 2 November 1576
20 January 1612 Son of Maximilian II;
King of Germany under his father, 1575–1576
Habsburg 13 June 1612 13 June 1612
20 March 1619 Son of Maximilian II
Ferdinand II
(Ferdinand II)
Habsburg 28 August 1619 28 August 1619
15 February 1637 Grandson of Ferdinand I;
Ferdinand III
(Ferdinand III)
Habsburg 22 December 1636 15 February 1637
2 April 1657 Son of Ferdinand II;
King of Germany under his father 1636–1637
Ferdinand IV
(Ferdinand IV)
Habsburg 31 May 1653 9 July 1654 Son of Ferdinand III;
King of Germany under his father
Leopold I
(Leopold I)
Habsburg 18 July 1658 18 July 1658
5 May 1705 Son of Ferdinand III
Joseph I
(Joseph I)
Habsburg 23 January 1690 5 May 1705
17 April 1711 Son of Leopold I; King of Germany under his father 1690–1705
Charles VI
(Karl VI)
Habsburg 27 October 1711 27 October 1711
20 October 1740 Son of Leopold I
Charles VII
(Karl VII)
Wittelsbach 14 January 1742 14 January 1742
20 January 1745 Husband of Maria Amalia, daughter of Joseph I
Francis I Stephan
(Franz I)
Lorraine 13 September 1745 13 September 1745
18 August 1765 Husband of Maria Theresa, daughter of Charles VI
Joseph II
(Joseph II)
Habsburg-Lorraine 27 March 1764 18 August 1765
20 February 1790 Son of Francis I and Maria Theresa; King of Germany under his father 1764–1765
Leopold II
(Leopold II)
Habsburg-Lorraine 30 September 1790 30 September 1790
1 March 1792 Son of Francis I and Maria Theresa
Francis II
(Franz II)
Habsburg-Lorraine 7 July 1792 7 July 1792
6 August 1806 Son of Leopold II; Dissolved the Holy Roman Empire; also Emperor of Austria 1804–1835; died 1835

Imperial vicars

During interregna, imperial authority was exercised by two imperial vicars — the Elector of Saxony, in his role as Count Palatine of Saxony exercised this office in northern Germany, and the Elector Palatine, as Count Palatine of the Rhine, exercised it in southern Germany. The confusion over the Palatine electorate during the Thirty Years War and after led to some confusion about who the rightful vicar was in the later years of the Empire.

German confederations, 1806-1871

Confederation of the Rhine, 1806-1813

Name Title House Began Ended
Napoleon I,
Emperor of the French
(Napoléon I, Kaiser der Franzosen)
Protector of the
Confederation of the Rhine
Bonaparte 25 July 1806 19 October 1813

German Confederation, 1815-1866

Name Title House Began Ended
Francis I,
Emperor of Austria
(Franz I, Kaiser von Österreich)
President of the
German Confederation
Habsburg-Lorraine 20 June 1815 2 March 1835
Ferdinand I,
Emperor of Austria
(Ferdinand I, Kaiser von Österreich)
President of the
German Confederation
Habsburg-Lorraine 2 March 1835 12 July 1848
Archduke Johann of Austria Imperial Vicar<ref>elected by the Frankfurt National Assembly as Imperial Vicar of a new German Reich. The German Confederation was considered dissolved.</ref> Habsburg-Lorraine 12 July 1848 20 December 1849
Frederick William IV, King of Prussia
(Friedrich Wilhelm IV, König von Preußen)
Emperor of the Germans elect Hohenzollern elected Emperor of the Germans by the Frankfurt Assembly on 28 March 1849, but refused the crown on 3 April 1849
Frederick William IV, King of Prussia
(Friedrich Wilhelm IV, König von Preußen)
President of the
German Union
Hohenzollern 26 May 1849 29 November 1850
Francis Joseph I,
Emperor of Austria
(Franz Joseph I, Kaiser von Österreich)
President of the
German Confederation
Habsburg-Lorraine 1 May 1850 24 August 1866

North German Confederation, 1867-1871

Name Title House Began Ended
Wilhelm I,
King of Prussia
(Wilhelm I, König von Preußen)
President of the
North German Confederation
Hohenzollern 1 July 1867 18 January 1871<ref>He was proclaimed German Emperor on that day.</ref>

German Empire, 1871-1918

Name Title House Began Ended
Wilhelm I,
King of Prussia
(Wilhelm I, König von Preußen)
German Emperor Hohenzollern 18 January 1871 9 March 1888
Frederick III,
King of Prussia
(Friedrich III, König von Preußen)
German Emperor Hohenzollern 9 March 1888 15 June 1888
Wilhelm II,
King of Prussia
(Wilhelm II, König von Preußen)
German Emperor Hohenzollern 15 June 1888 9 November 1918

Pretenders to the German throne

Name Titular Reign Comments
Wilhelm II 1918–1941 Exiled in the Netherlands until his death
Crown Prince William 1941–1951
Prince Louis Ferdinand 1951–1994
Prince Georg Friedrich since 1994
Prince Christian-Sigismund of Prussia heir presumptive

Family tree

Remarkably (or possibly not given the amount of intermarriage at the time), every ruler of Germany was related by marriage to every other and all of them descendants of Charlemagne. The relationships are shown at Kings of Germany family tree.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "List of German monarchs" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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