Medieval German Kings

Germany became a separate territorial kingdom mostly under the reign of the Carolingian and later, Frankish rulers.

It was originally a part of the Frankish kingdom and later became one of the most significant parts of the Holy Roman Empire.


Carolingian Empire

The title of King in Germany was not hereditary as was the case in many other regions of medieval Europe.

Rather, the King of Germany had to be elected by the notable nobles of the realm, often considering the ancestral line of the candidate but also other aspects.


Carolingian Empire

Louis the German *King of Bavaria in 817

Louis the German was among the earliest German kings in the medieval ages. He was a grandson of Charlemagne and was directly tied by blood with the Frankish royalty.

He was initially made the King of Bavaria in 817 and eventually received the whole of East Francia as his territories, comprising mainly of Germany.

Treaty of Verdun 843

In recognition of the fact that his territories comprised mostly of German lands, he was given the title of “German” later.

During his reign, Louis the German-made many attempts to expand his influence and power, trying to take over the control of West Francia. He briefly succeeded in this but had to retreat to his power base in East Francia. He died in 876.

Louis the Younger *King of Germany in 876

Louis the Younger was the son of Louis the German and assumed the kingship of Germany in 876. The title he took upon this occasion was that of the King of Saxony.

Louis the Younger spent his early years warding off the threats of invasion from his brother, Charles the Bald.


Charles the Bald

Having secured his territories in a number of decisive victories, Louis the Younger then went on to improve the ties between the nobility in Germany and the royalty.

His reign also marked the beginning of Viking attacks into German territories, some of which he was able to ward off with success. He died in 882.

Norse Vikings Long Boat

Otto I *Holy Roman Emperor in 962

Otto I inherited the Duchy of Saxony from his father in 936. He consequently became the King of the Germans. It was chiefly during his reign that a vast number of diverse German tribes were welded together into a unified kingdom.

Otto proceeded to secure his hold on the German territories, diminishing that of the nobility at the same time.

Otto I *Holy Roman Emperor in 962

Otto I *Holy Roman Emperor in 962

While being the German king, he successfully stemmed the tide of the Magyars who were invading Western Europe at the time.

This earned him a significant position within Christendom and he soon added the Kingdom of Italy to his realm as well. He was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor in 962 and was the key architect of the long-lasting Holy Roman Empire.

Flags of The Holy Roman Empire

Flags of The Holy Roman Empire

Henry IV *King of the Germans 1054 – 1105

Henry IV was the King of the Germans from 1054 to 1105. He became king at an early age but was kidnapped by the Archbishop of Cologne and was raised under his supervision.

He assumed the throne in 1054 and became engaged in a number of disagreements with the members of the nobility.

King Henry VI of England - Medieval KIngs

Henry IV *King of the Germans 1054 – 1105

On one hand, he tried to secure his control over the nobility while on the other, he sought the backing of the Catholic Church.

However, he soon ran into fierce disagreements with the Church that culminated in his ex-communication.

This led to the famous Walk to Canossa in 1077 in which he stood outsides the castle of Canossa and sought the Pope’s forgiveness.

Medieval Pope Pius V

Despite a large number of opponents and enemies, Henry IV continued to rely on Germany as his power base and expanded his empire by expertly maneuvering through the opposition. He died in 1106.