King of the Geats

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Gizur challenges the Huns
Peter Nicolai Arbo (1886)

Geatish kings (Rex Getarum/Gothorum), ruling over the provinces of Götaland (Gautland/Geatland), appears in several sources for early Swedish history. Today, most of them are not considered historical.

This list follows the generally accepted identification between the names Götar (modern Swedish), Gautar (Old Norse) and Geatas (Old English), which is based both on tradition, literary sources and on etymology. However, unlike some translations[1] it does not identify this tribe with the Goths. Both Old Norse and Old English records clearly separates the Geats from the Goths, although still depicts them as closely related to each other.

From the Middle Ages until 1974, the king of Sweden, claimed the title king of the Geats as "king of Sweden and Geats/Goths" or "Rex Sweorum et Gothorum". The Danish monarchs used the similar title "King of the Goths" from 1362 until 1972.

Legendary kings[edit]

Some names appear in Norse mythology and in Germanic legend and in at least one case, they were probably historical (Hygelac). Their order of succession is uncertain (if they ever lived).

Siklings[edit]

  • Sigar?, the father of Siggeir, who genealogically corresponds to Yngwin, the king of Götaland in Gesta Danorum.
  • Siggeir 5th century, a son of Sigar and the king of Götaland in the Volsunga saga

Hrethelings[edit]

  • Swerting (Swartingaz) (in Beowulf).
  • Hreðel (Hrōþilōn) (a relative of Swerting, in Beowulf)
  • Hæþcyn (Haþukunjaz) d. 514 or 515 (the son of Hrethel, in Beowulf)
  • Hygelac (Hugilaikaz, Hugleikr) d. 516 (the son of Hrethel, in Beowulf)
  • Heardred (Hardarēdaz, Harðráðr). ca 530 (the son of Hygelac, in Beowulf)
  • Beowulf (Bīōwulfaz, Bjólfr) d. ca 580? (the nephew of Hygelac, in Beowulf)

Ylfings (Wulfings)[edit]

  • Helm? Wulfing king mentioned in Widsith.
  • Högne 7th century, the king of East Götaland (in the Heimskringla) and the father-in-law of Hjörvard.
  • Hjörvard 7th century, king of East Götaland (in Sögubrot)
  • Hjörmund 7th century, king of East Götaland (in Sögubrot) and a son of Hjörvard.
  • Helgi Hundingsbane 7th century, probably a king of East Götaland in the Norse sagas.

Battle of Bråvalla[edit]

Chronologically assigned to the 8th century, the historically poorly attested battle of Bråvalla (in a location legendarily between West and East Gothenland) was fought between the "king of Sweden" who is said to have ruled Westrogothians, and the "king of Denmark" whose realm is said to have included Ostrogothians.

Historical kings[edit]

When sources become more reliable, Götaland is an integrated part of the Swedish kingdom and from Stenkil and onwards most of the medieval Swedish kings actually belonged to Geatish clans (House of Stenkil, House of Sverker and the House of Bjelbo, possibly also the House of Eric). In the early high Middle Ages some kings in Sweden were titled rex Visigothorum and rex Gothorum, failing to hold the Swedish core provinces in Svealand. The non-Geatish King Ragnvald Knaphövde was killed by the Geats as he despised them and travelled among them without Geatish hostages.

False kings[edit]

  • The 16th-century forgery Ballad of Eric tells of the first king of Götaland Eric ("Eiriker"), who for a long time was considered historical.