Talk:Germanic kingship

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Norse history and culture (Rated Start-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Norse history and culture, a WikiProject related to all activities of the North Germanic peoples, both in Scandinavia and abroad, prior to the formation of the Kalmar Union in 1397. If you would like to participate, you can edit the article attached to this page, or visit the project page, where you can join the project and/or contribute to the discussion.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Ancient Germanic studies  
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Ancient Germanic studies, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Ancient Germanic studies articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.

I have changed könig to König (the German word for "king"). In German every noun is capitalised.

pure genius, now somebody has moved Germanic king to Germanic monarchy, never mind that the article states that diarchy was extremely common. dab () 01:26, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Thank you I thought it was absurd. The word king (cyning) is an important part of the actual concept. --Chroniclev 04:33, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

I have never heard of the concept of "Germanic king" before referred to as anything other than "Germanic monarchy": a system of government which was replaced by feudalism over time. I gave references for the information I added. Perhpas we're thinking of two entirely differnt concepts, but the original article was very confused. Srnec 18:46, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

I read that the word King used to be written as Cing in ancient english. If that's the case, It's highly possible that it has come from the Sanskrit root Cing or Sing meaning 'Lion'. A lot of Indian royal / warrior class till today carry the familly name Sing. Don't we have Lion's images in the coat of arms? - Green, Paris

If someone could elaborate on the text below I would be grateful: whole of this: You wrote: > Isn't it *þeuðanaz (Go. thiudans, ON þjo:ðann, OE þeoden, OS thiodan etc) which was the true PG name for "king" as the "head of a >tribe (*þeuðô)"? It has a transparent IE word-forming pattern: >"collective noun" + suffix –ano-/-ino- expressing more or less the >meaning "head of ..." We have a number of Germanic terms shaped in >this way: > *druxtinaz (ON dro:ttinn, OE dryhten, OS druhtin, OHG truhtin > etc) "military leader", lit. "head of a *druxtiz (host of warriors, > cf. Go. gadrauhts "warrior", lit. "member of the same *drauhts F.-i > < *druxtiz)"; *kinðinaz (represented solely by Go. kindins, if it's > not a Gothic new-making after the known pattern) "head of a >*kinðiz" (< PIE *gentis, cf. Lat. gens; there must have been a >Gothic word *kinds F.-i meaning "clan" or the like, as the Swedish examples cited by Ingemar show); *xarjanaz (ON Herjann, epithet of > Odin), "head of a *xarjaz (army)"; and even *Wôðanaz himself, > understood as "head of wôða- (if we take it as a collective noun > meaning "the furious ones", in the sense of die Wilde Jagd, as >Emile Benveniste suggested in his Vocabulary of the Indo-European > Institutions). Outside Germania, we see Latin dominus ("head of > domus, family house"), tribunus ("head of tribus") following the > same model. A Germanic ethnonym rendered through a Celtic mediation > was Teutoni ("kings"?). And we've got feminine Illyrian tautana in > the sense "queen". Summing up, the word Go. thiudans is very very > old in its reference to the leader of a tribe. > Then, what about *kuningaz? It is formed from PG. *kunjan "kin" > through adding the patronymic suffix –inga-, which is Germanic, not > IE. The original meaning of *kuningaz must have been "descendant of > a (noble) kin". That is, it didn't necessarily imply a sole >person's leadership. It could have meant just "nobleman" in the >beginning. And the term itself could have originated in the >West-Germanic area,where the word is documented best. ON konungr can >be a later borrowing from the continent. Surely you know that place >in Ynglingasaga 20: > "Dyggvi's mother was Dro:tt, daughter of the king Danp(r), son of > Ri:gr, who was the first called konungr in the Danish tongue... > Dyggvi was the first of his kinsmen to be called konungr; and >before that they had been called dro:ttnar, and their wives > dro:ttningar..." (the imperfect translation is mine)which reminds >of Konr ungr (lit. "Konr the Young",hence konungr by >folk-etymology), son of Ri:gr in Ri:gsðula. Doesn't it suggest that > the term konungr as compared to dro:ttinn and þjo:ðann was >relatively late, which fact was still remembered in mythologized > history? Note that in the context of both sources Danr and Danpr >are mentioned, which is certainly a reminiscence of Don and Dnepr >known ultimately from the Goths after their adventures in East >Europe (Go.*Dan(u)s jah *Danapr(u)s, used together in Gothic epic songs). > Didn't the Goths play a role (and what then?) in this shift of the > power terminology for the rest of Germania? > > A kind of conclusion so far: the Gothic word *kuniggs originally > referred to "nobleman", "one of the elite", "prince", a term >closely associated with religious-tribal structure of the pagan >Goths, and that was the reason why Wulfila didn't use it when >translating Greek BASILEUS and ARCWN. But it happened to get >borrowed by some peoples with whom the Goths maintained contacts and >eventually became a part of their power vocabulary. The rise of >*kuningaz to "king" was exclusively West-Germanic, later spread to the North, and that was called forth by some social transformations >in the West-Germanic area... > Ualarauans I am not sure I follow your reasoning totally. For a beginning we must establish a difference between 'people,gentes' and 'tribe' since normally a people consists of several tribes. Secondly we must se to the supposed origin of such a tribe, i.e. if it is based on an original kindred relation with families being kinsfolk in a broad meaning or if it started with a gathering of people in kind of Gefolgschaft e.g. Þiuðans et c. sure means leader/head of a people -I agree. Also in the other senses we can suppose it concerns a 'head' person of kind e.g. leader of warriors et c. That's why I see this as an original title of a sacral king for several tribes, a people, and not a tribal king. Concerning 'kin','kind, 'kuni/kunja' I primarily see a connection with a tribe - not a people. I however fail to see why kuningaz must only mean descendant of a tribe, a noble et c. It it for me evident that this term relates to a tribal leader that as well 'drottin' might do, but on the other hand 'drottin' is used both to mark a noble and as well for a ruler and a second in command. Kuningaz, konungr et.c. however is never used in another sense than 'king' as far as I know. This is also why I regard 'kind' as related to a tribe of kindred origin. Since the 'kindins' presided in a council consisting of several reiks/kuniggs and they had strong influence on his decisions 'kindind' was not a classical king but rather a successor to þiuðans to perform the functions of the former sacral king of the people. Since these several kunjas/kinds should be coordinated it is natural that the person who executes thisis regarded as 'leader of the kinds/kuni', i.e. 'kindins'. Formally, accordingly, his title implies kingship and he as well executes just the sacral functions for the whole Vesigothic people, but his political position is different because of the presence of the council. The reiks/kuningas of course, as you imply, also had a sacral function within the tribe and versus the warriors with the cult of Gaut and Óðinn, the ancestor cult et c., but the cult of the people, the fertility cult, was a matter for the 'kindins'and, I in my opinion he in this way had the overruling duty to guard the ethnicity of the people which just rested with the cult, reminding them also all the time of their divine heritage from Gaut. Later, at least in Scandinavia, 'Svíakonungr' was as well used for a sacral king, and of possible earlier names we do not know. On the other hand we have no real knowledge of the influence area for any early ruler referred to with that epithet. The Inglingar are mentioned but nothing says this is a dynasty - it could as well be a name of any ruler, maybe several contemporary, up North claiming to be the reborn sun, which is just what the name implies (in my interpretation). From the Skilfings and on they were rather Odinistic kings and hence no real sacral kings and the sources mentioning Svía konungr are medieval and hence could be influenced by later language. To call a tribal king a 'kuningas' hence is natural and I can not see why this should indicate just only a nobleman of the tribe.Kuningas means just what you claimed with Woden in Woðanaz- head of the family related tribe. I recall that Wenskus used just 'kuningas'for tribal kings when he claimed the different tribes moved south one by one, and not in a massmovement under a þiuðans. I agree with him that this scenario is the most likely. You are however correct, I now recall, of the supposed Celtic origin of 'reiks'. Reiks, as little as kuningas, is not a sacral king for a people, but the title can be used for Odinistic kings like Ermanaric when there is no more an undivided Gothic people and the Vesigothic reiks were not sacral kings but rather Odinistic. Anyhow I think your analysis has made a lot of things more evident and understandable thanks to your elusion of a lot of linguistic stoff of grammatical art, that only confuse the explanations in most mails. I thank thee brother! Ingemar

Old English cyning (king), Old Saxon and Old High German kuning and Finnish kuningas, which is the oldest available record of Germanic languages.

Thus the word ‘kuningaz’ could be assumed by the linguists to be the logical term that would have been for ‘king’ in Proto-Germanic language. The name king is derived from the Anglo-Saxon cyning, which in turn is derived from the Proto-Germanic *kuningaz. The original meaning is contested. One theory is that the element *kun relates to the word kindred or that it originally meant descendant of a ruler. Another theory is that it is originally meant belonging to the woman, i.e. belonging to the mother goddess and referring to the king's role as a priest.

Modern forms of *kuningaz:

   * Dutch: koning
   * English: king
   * German: König (or Koenig)
   * Icelandic: konungur or kóngur
   * Norwegian/Danish: kong or konge
   * Swedish: kung or konung
   * Faroese: kóngur

The word *kuningaz is cognate to non-Germanic languages (note that Slavic kral, król and korol are not derived from this word):

   * Finnish/Estonian: kuningas
   * Latvian: kungs (lord) and ķēniņš (king)
   * Lithuanian: kunigaikštis(duke, older form - "kunigas")
   * Russian: knyaz
   * Saami: gonagas or konagas
   * Serbian: knez
   * Tatar: kenäz
   * Persian: kiAn

Proto-Germanic *kuningaz can be reconstructed; this would seem to be confirmed by Finnish kuningas 'king,' which must have been borrowed from Germanic at a very early date. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:18, 26 November 2007 (UTC)


"Germanic kingship" is a presumed social institution, alleged in a small number of Roman sources and then magnified by 19th century historians far beyond that evidence. The discussion of the etymology of the word "king" and certain related words is not relevant to that topic, unless someone can produce a source that ties the etymology and the historical thesis together. I propose to remove the etymology section, unless objections with sources are forthcoming. (talk) 00:06, 22 May 2017 (UTC)