An anti-king, anti king or antiking (German: Gegenkönig; French: antiroi; Czech: protikrál) is a would-be king who, due to succession disputes or simple political opposition, declares himself king in opposition to a reigning monarch.[1] The term is usually used in a European historical context where it relates to elective monarchies rather than hereditary ones. In hereditary monarchies such figures are more frequently referred to as pretenders or claimants.

Anti-kings are most commonly referred to in the politics of the Holy Roman Empire, before the Golden Bull of 1356 issued by Emperor Charles IV defined the provisions of the Imperial election. Other nations with elective monarchies that produced anti-kings included Bohemia and Hungary. The term is comparable to antipope, a rival would-be Pope, and indeed the two phenomena are related; just as German kings (Kings of the Romans) and Holy Roman Emperors from time to time raised up antipopes to politically weaken Popes with whom they were in conflict, so too Popes sometimes sponsored anti-kings as political rivals to emperors with whom they disagreed.

Several anti-kings succeeded in vindicating their claims to power, and were recognized as rightful kings: for example, King Conrad III of Germany, Emperor Frederick II, and Emperor Charles IV (see table below). The status of others as anti-kings is still disputed: e.g. in the case of Duke Henry II of Bavaria and Margrave Egbert II of Meissen.

List of anti-kings


Name Dates In opposition to:
Arnulf the Bad919–921Henry the Fowler
Henry the Wrangler984–985Otto III
Rudolf of Rheinfelden1077–1080Henry IV
Hermann of Salm1081–1088
Conrad III1127–1135Lothair III
Frederick II1212–1215Otto IV
Henry Raspe1246–1247Frederick II
William II of Holland1248–1250
1250–1254Conrad IV
Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall12571272Alfonso X of Castile
Frederick the Fair1314–1330 Louis IV
Charles IV1346–1347
1349Günther of Schwarzburg
Frederick of Brunswick-Lüneburg1400Wenceslaus, King of the Romans

German double elections

Date King King
1198Philip of Swabia 1198–1208Otto IV 1198–1215
1257Richard of Cornwall 1257–1272Alfonso of Castile 1257–1273
1314Frederick the Fair 1314–1330Louis the Bavarian 1314–1346
1410Sigismund of Luxembourg 1410–1437Jobst of Moravia 1410–1411


Name Dates In opposition to:
Matthias Corvinus1469–1471George of Poděbrady
1471–1490Vladislaus II
Frederick of the Palatinate1619–1620Ferdinand II
Charles Albert of Bavaria1741–1743Maria Theresa


Name Dates In opposition to:
Ladislaus II1162–1163Stephen III
Stephen IV1163–1165



Name Dates In opposition to:
Yeongjong of Goryeo1269Wonjong of Goryeo (deposed by dictator Im Yon)
Wang Go1320–1323Chungsuk of Goryeo
1339–1340Chunghye of Goryeo


Name Dates In opposition to:
Edward Balliol1332–1356David II


  1. OED "Anti-, 2" The OED does not give "anti-king" its own entry, unlike "antipope", but includes it in a list of political "anti-" formations, such as "anti-emperor" and "anti-caesar". The earliest example of anti-king cited is from 1619 (and the next by Dr Pusey). Only the hyphenated form is cited or mentioned.


  • Heinrich Mitteis: Die deutsche Königswahl. Ihre Rechtsgrundlagen bis zur goldenen Bulle, 2nd expanded edition, Rohrer, Brünn, Munich, Vienna, 1944, pp. 113 ff.
  • Dietmar Willoweit: Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte. Vom Frankenreich bis zur Wiedervereinigung Deutschlands, 5th revised edition, expanded with a table of chronology and an attached map, Beck, Munich, 2005, pp. 71 f., 94 ff., ISBN 3-406-52637-3
  • Gerhard Theuerkauf: Gegenkönig. In: Handwörterbuch zur deutschen Rechtsgeschichte, 2nd, fully revised and expanded edition. Published by Albrecht Cordes, Heiner Lück, Dieter Werkmüller and Ruth Schmidt-Wiegand as philological advisor. Edited by: Falk Hess and Andreas Karg, Vol. I: Aachen-Geistliche Bank, Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin. 2008, Sp. 1995–1996, ISBN 978-3-503-07912-4
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