High king
A high king is a king
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 who holds a position of seniority over a group of other kings, without the title of Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

; compare King of Kings
King of Kings
King of Kings is a title that has been used by several monarchies and empires throughout history. The title originates in the Ancient Near East. It is broadly the equivalent of the later title Emperor....


Rulers who have been termed "high king" (by their contemporaries or by modern observers) include:
  • Various ancient Celt
    The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

    ic rulers, notably the High King
    High King of Ireland
    The High Kings of Ireland were sometimes historical and sometimes legendary figures who had, or who are claimed to have had, lordship over the whole of Ireland. Medieval and early modern Irish literature portrays an almost unbroken sequence of High Kings, ruling from Tara over a hierarchy of...

    Rí, or very commonly ríg , is an ancient Gaelic word meaning "King". It is used in historical texts referring to the Irish and Scottish kings and those of similar rank. While the modern Irish word is exactly the same, in modern Scottish it is Rìgh, apparently derived from the genitive. The word...

    ) of Ireland
    Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

    . Some other monarchs, such as King Arthur
    King Arthur
    King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...

    , Uther Pendragon
    Uther Pendragon
    Uther Pendragon is a legendary king of sub-Roman Britain and the father of King Arthur.A few minor references to Uther appear in Old Welsh poems, but his biography was first written down by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia Regum Britanniae , and Geoffrey's account of the character was used in...

    , and Vortigern
    Vortigern , also spelled Vortiger and Vortigen, was a 5th-century warlord in Britain, a leading ruler among the Britons. His existence is considered likely, though information about him is shrouded in legend. He is said to have invited the Saxons to settle in Kent as mercenaries to aid him in...

    , have been termed "High King of Britain" in some accounts.
  • The ruler of the Picts
    The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

  • The Ard
    Rí, or very commonly ríg , is an ancient Gaelic word meaning "King". It is used in historical texts referring to the Irish and Scottish kings and those of similar rank. While the modern Irish word is exactly the same, in modern Scottish it is Rìgh, apparently derived from the genitive. The word...

    , high king of Scotland.
  • Some ancient Greek
    Ancient Greece
    Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

     rulers, such as Agamemnon
    In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

     (see anax).
  • The most powerful king of the various Etruscan
    Etruscan civilization
    Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci...

  • Mepe-Umaglesi "Most High King" was a predicate of the Georgia
    Georgia (country)
    Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

    n Orthodox Mepe-Mepeta ("King of Kings")
  • In Lithuania, the title of "Didysis Kunigaikštis" is more accurately translated as "high king", although it is traditionally rendered as "Grand Duke"
  • In ancient Sumer
    Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

    , the rulers of all Sumer held the title of "Nam-Lugal
    Sumerian king list
    The Sumerian King List is an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of "official" kingship...

    " (High King).

The Bretwalda
Bretwalda is an Old English word, the first record of which comes from the late 9th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It is given to some of the rulers of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms from the 5th century onwards who had achieved overlordship of some or all of the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms...

 was essentially the high king of the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

, though the name is rarely translated as such. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Yang di-Pertuan Agong
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the head of state of Malaysia. The office was established in 1957 when the Federation of Malaya gained independence....

 in Malaysia could probably be seen as a "high king", as he is selected from among nine Malay rulers (seven Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

s, a Raja
Raja is an Indian term for a monarch, or princely ruler of the Kshatriya varna...

, and a Great Lord
Yang di-Pertuan Besar
In Malay, Yang di-Pertuan Besar, literally "He Who Is Made Great" or "Great Ruler", is a royal title.-In Malaysia:# Also known as Yamtuan Besar, it is the title of the elected monarch of the state of Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia...

) by election (through informal agreement, on a rotational basis). In practice, however, the term "high king" is rarely applied to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, rather "King".

The titles "maharaja
Mahārāja is a Sanskrit title for a "great king" or "high king". The female equivalent title Maharani denotes either the wife of a Maharaja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right. The widow of a Maharaja is known as a Rajamata...

" or similar (India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n), and "daewang" (Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

n) could possibly be rendered as "high king", although the literal meaning is closer to "great king". The title "King of Kings
King of Kings
King of Kings is a title that has been used by several monarchies and empires throughout history. The title originates in the Ancient Near East. It is broadly the equivalent of the later title Emperor....

" also expresses much the same concept as "high king" – it was used at various times by the Emperor of Persia (shahanshah) and the Emperor of Ethiopia
Emperor of Ethiopia
The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of Ethiopia until the abolition of the monarchy in 1974. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country...


Other uses

is also the name of a J-pop group created in 2008 featuring Ai Takahashi
Ai Takahashi
is a Japanese pop singer formerly associated with Hello! Project, and best known as leader of Morning Musume and Hello!Project until 2011, and former member of its popular subgroup, Mini Moni...

, Reina Tanaka
Reina Tanaka
is one of the sixth generation members of the J-pop group Morning Musume. Her professional first name is spelled in hiragana to distinguish her from the Japanese actress Rena Tanaka, whose name is spelled using the same kanji , who is similarly from Fukuoka Prefecture.- Biography :Tanaka auditioned...

, Saki Shimizu
Saki Shimizu
is a J-pop singer. Her career began in 2002 when she successfully passed the audition for Hello! Project Kids, an all-female teen pop group within Hello! Project. Since then, she has continued to sing in that group and has become a part of two smaller groups composed of Hello! Project Kids members,...

, Maimi Yajima
Maimi Yajima
is a member and the leader of C-ute, a J-pop group within Hello! Project. Her younger cousin, Akari Takeuchi, is also a member of Hello! Project, currently a "Hello Pro Egg"...

 and Yuuka Maeda
Yuuka Maeda
, born on December 28, 1994 in Chiba Prefecture, Japan, is a Japanese pop singer and a member of S/mileage, under Hello! Project.-2004:Maeda Yuuka joined Hello! Project as a member of Hello! Pro Egg in June 2004 when she passed the auditions alongside thirty-two other girls...

  • In C. S. Lewis
    C. S. Lewis
    Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

    's fictional Chronicles of Narnia, Peter was the High King of Narnia over Edmund, by virtue of being the eldest. He was also the High King over all Kings of Narnia, from the first to the last. Aslan, the deity and the Great Lion of Narnia, is described as being "the High King above all High Kings", meaning He is the highest King over all rulers of Narnia.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien
    J. R. R. Tolkien
    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

    's works, mainly The Silmarillion
    The Silmarillion
    The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien in 1977, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, who later became a noted fantasy writer. The Silmarillion, along with J. R. R...

    , there was a succession of High Kings of the Noldor
    In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Noldor are Elves of the Second Clan who migrated to Valinor and lived in Eldamar. The Noldor are called Golodhrim or Gódhellim in Sindarin, and Goldoi by Teleri of Tol Eressëa. The singular form of the Quenya noun is Noldo and the adjective is Noldorin...

     exiled in Middle-earth
    Middle-earth is the fictional setting of the majority of author J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales....

    , beginning with Fëanor
    Fëanor is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium who plays an important part in The Silmarillion. He was the eldest son of Finwë, the High King of the Noldor, and his first wife Míriel Serindë...

     and culminating in Gil-galad
    Ereinion Gil-galad is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is mentioned in The Lord of the Rings, and featured in The Silmarillion.- Character overview :...

    's reign. Ingwë
    Ingwe may be:* Ingwë - a character in the fictional universe of J.R.R. Tolkien* Ingwe - a South African anti-tank guided missile* Ingwe Coal - a division of the BHP Billiton mining company* Ingwe - the Zulu word for leopard...

    , leader of the Vanyar
    In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Vanyar are the fairest and most noble of the High Elves. They are the smallest of the three clans of the Eldar, and were the first to arrive in Aman. According to legend, the clan was founded by Imin, the first Elf to awake at Cuiviénen, his wife Iminyë, and...

    , is also referred as the High King of the Eldar
    Elf (Middle-earth)
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Elves are one of the races that inhabit a fictional Earth, often called Middle-earth, and set in the remote past. They appear in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings, but their complex history is described more fully in The Silmarillion...

    , while Manwë
    Manwë is a god or Vala of the Elven pantheon imagined by J. R. R. Tolkien. He is described in The Silmarillion.Manwë was the King of the Valar, husband of Varda Elentári, brother of the Dark Lord Melkor, and King of Arda. He lived atop Mount Taniquetil, the highest mountain of the world, in the...

     is also sometimes titled High King of Arda
    In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Arda is the name given to the Earth in a period of prehistory, wherein the places mentioned in The Lord of the Rings and related material once existed...

    . Thingol
    Elu Thingol is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He appears in The Silmarillion, The Lays of Beleriand and Children of Húrin as well as in numerous stories in the many volumes of The History of Middle-earth...

     is acknowledged as high-king of Beleriand by Fingolfin. In the Third Age, the rulers of Arnor
    Arnor is a fictional kingdom in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings. Arnor, or the Northern Kingdom, was a kingdom of the Dúnedain in the land of Eriador in Middle-earth. The name probably means "Land of the King", from Sindarin Ara- + dor...

     were known as "High King", including Aragorn
    Aragorn II is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, one of the main protagonists of The Lord of the Rings. He is first introduced by the name Strider, which the hobbits continue to call him...

    , as King Elessar.
  • In Lloyd Alexander
    Lloyd Alexander
    Lloyd Chudley Alexander was a widely influential American author of more than forty books, mostly fantasy novels for children and adolescents, as well as several adult books...

    's Chronicles of Prydain, there is a line of High Kings of Prydain (a fictionalized version of Wales
    Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

    ) who are descendants of a royal family who came from the Summer Country in order to oppose Arawn. The High King throughout the series is Gwydion's father Math, who is then succeeded by Gwydion and later Taran in the final novel of the series, The High King
    The High King
    The High King is the last book in the Chronicles of Prydain fantasy series of books by Lloyd Alexander. It was awarded the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1969.-Plot overview:...

  • In Bethesda Softworks
    Bethesda Softworks
    Bethesda Softworks, LLC, is an American video game company. A subsidiary of ZeniMax Media, the company was originally based in Bethesda, Maryland and eventually moved to their current location in Rockville, Maryland...

     The Elder Scrolls
    The Elder Scrolls
    The Elder Scrolls is a role-playing video game series developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks.-History:...

    The high king is the highest authority in the Province of Skyrim.
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