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) (nephew, grandson or stepson)
  • 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) d. ca 530 (the son of Hygelac, in Beowulf)
  • Beowulf (Bīōwulfaz, Bjólfr) d. ca 580? (the nephew of Hygelac, in Beowulf)

Ylfings (Wulfings)[edit]

Kings of East Gotland (Östergötland)

  • Helm Early 6th century, the Wulfing king mentioned in Widsith. Possible Reign Date Range 475-530
  • Högne 7th century, the king of East Götaland (in the Heimskringla) and the father-in-law of Granmar. Most likely descendant of Helm.
  • Hjörvard 7th century, king of East Götaland (in Sögubrot) Married Hildagun daughter of Granmer. Most likely descendant of Helm.
  • Helgi Hundingsbane 7th century, probably a king of East Götaland in the Norse sagas and son-in-law of Högne.If we separate the merged Helgi into two time frames periods. Helgi who slew Hunding (Volsung) and Helgi (Ylfing) another most likely descendant of Helm.
  • Hjörmund 7th century, king of East Götaland (in Sögubrot) and a son of Hjörvard. He was most likely grandson of Högne. Given the throne by Harold Wartooth.

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.

References[edit]