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List of German Kings and Emperors

The following list of German Kings and Emperors is one of several Wikipedia lists of incumbents.

Table of contents
1 Notes
2 Conrad I
3 Ottonian Saxon Dynasty
4 Franconian Dynasty
5 Supplinburger
6 Staufen or Hohenstaufen
7 Welfs (Guelphs)
8 Staufen (Hohenstaufen)
9 Interregnum
10 Miscellaneous Houses
11 House of Habsburg
12 House of Wittelsbach
13 Habsburg-Lorraine
14 List of emperors of the German Empire


The relationship between the title of "king" and "emperor" in the area that is today called Germany is just as irritating and complicated as the history and the structure of the Holy Roman Empire itself. The following remarks may or may not 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 out as the eastern section of the Frankish kingdom, which was split by the Treaty of Verdun in 843 (while the western section eventually became France). The first rulers of the eastern area thus called themselves reges Francorum, kings of the Franks. A reference to the "Germans", indicating the emergence of a German nation of some sort, did not appear until the 11th century.
  2. For most of the time, at least until 1508, becoming king was a prerequisite for becoming emperor. As a rule of thumb, after being crowned emperor by the Pope (a title with a religious connotation), a king remained King of the Germans (a rather political title with functions in Feudal Law). The first of the eastern rulers to become Emperor was Otto I the Great (in 962).
  3. The kingdom was never entirely hereditary; instead, ancestry was only one of the factors that determined the succession of kings (and thus emperors). The king was formally elected by the leading nobilty in the realm, continuing the Frankish tradition. With the Golden Bull of 1356, a collegiate of Electors was formally established which elected the king.
  4. In 1508 Maximilian I, who had not yet been crowned by the Pope, announced that henceforth he would use the title of "Emperor-Elect", which was used by all succeeding emperors. His successor, Charles V, was the last emperor to be crowned by the Pope - henceforth, all Holy Roman Emperors were merely "Emperors-Elect". At the same time, the chosen successors of the Habsburg emperors began to be elected as "King of the Romans" during their father's lifetime.

Conrad I

With the death of the last Carolingian king of East Francia, Louis the Child, the East Frankish nobles elected a replacement. Conrad came from a family as old as the Carolingians, and which had established substantial connections in East Francia.

Ottonian Saxon Dynasty

Franconian Dynasty


Staufen or Hohenstaufen

Welfs (Guelphs)

Staufen (Hohenstaufen)


Miscellaneous Houses

House of Habsburg

Interregnum (1740-1742)

House of Wittelsbach


In 1806, the Holy Roman Empire collapsed under the military pressure from Napoleon I of France. From 1806 until the foundation of the 1871 German Empire, there was no single leader of a united German territory.

List of emperors of the German Empire