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-kingsEdit


Name Dates In opposition to:
Arnulf the Bad 919–921 Henry the Fowler
Henry the Wrangler 984–985 Otto III
Rudolf of Rheinfelden 1077–1080 Henry IV
Hermann of Salm 1081–1088
Conrad III 1127–1135 Lothair III
Frederick II 1212–1215 Otto IV
Henry Raspe 1246–1247 Frederick II
William II of Holland 1248–1250
1250–1254 Conrad IV
Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall 1257–1272 Alfonso X of Castile
Frederick the Fair 1314–1330 Louis IV
Charles IV 1346–1347
1349 Günther of Schwarzburg
Frederick of Brunswick-Lüneburg 1400 Wenceslaus, King of the Romans

German double electionsEdit

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


Name Dates In opposition to:
Matthias Corvinus 1469–1471 George of Poděbrady
1471–1490 Vladislaus II
Frederick of the Palatinate 1619–1620 Ferdinand II
Charles Albert of Bavaria 1741–1743 Maria Theresa


Name Dates In opposition to:
Ladislaus II 1162–1163 Stephen III
Stephen IV 1163–1165



Name Dates In opposition to:
Yeongjong of Goryeo 1269 Wonjong of Goryeo (deposed by dictator Im Yon)
Wang Go 1320–1323 Chungsuk of Goryeo
1339–1340 Chunghye of Goryeo


Name Dates In opposition to:
Edward Balliol 1332–1356 David 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