Reiks (Gothic: 𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐍃; pronunciation /ri:ks/; Latinized as rix) is a Gothic title for a tribal ruler, often translated as "king".

In the Gothic Bible, it translates to the Greek árchōn (ἄρχων).[1] It is presumably translated as basiliskos (βασιλίσκος "petty king") in the Passio of Sabbas the Goth.[2]

The Gothic Thervingi were divided into subdivisions of territory and people called *kunją (singular kuni, cognate with English kin), led by a reiks.[3] In times of a common threat, one of the reiks would be selected as a kindins, or head of the Empire (translated as "judge", Latin iudex, Greek δικαστής).[4]

Herwig Wolfram suggested the position was different from the Roman definition of a rex ("king"), and is better described as that of a tribal chief (see Germanic king).[5]

A reiks had a lower order of optimates or megistanes (μεγιστάνες, presumably translating mahteigs[6]) beneath him, on whom he could call on for support.[7]

It also figures prominently as second element in Gothic names, Latinized and often anglicized as -ric, e.g. in Theoderic (Þiuda-reiks).

The use of the suffix extended into the Merovingian dynasty, with kings given names such as Childeric,[8] and it survives in modern German and Scandinavian names such as Ulrich, Erik , Dietrich, Heinrich, Richard, Friedrich.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ A. W. Van Der Hoek; Dirk H. A. Kolff; M. S. Oort (1992). Ritual, State, and History in South Asia: Essays in Honour of J.C. Heesterman. BRILL. pp. 310–. ISBN 978-90-04-09467-3. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  2. ^ Herwig Wolfram (2005). Gotische Studien: Volk und Herrschaft im frühen Mittelalter. C. H. Beck. pp. 90–. ISBN 978-3-406-52957-3. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  3. ^ Herwig Wolfram, Die Goten: Von den Anfängen bis zur Mitte des 6. Jahrhunderts, p. 105.
  4. ^ Ammianus Marcellinus (27,5,9) mentions one Athanaric iudex gentis, "judge of the people."
  5. ^ P. J. Heather (1999). The Visigoths from the Migration Period to the Seventh Century: An Ethnographic Perspective. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. pp. 358–. ISBN 978-1-84383-033-7. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  6. ^ Béla Köpeczi, History of Transylvania: From the beginnings to 1606, Social Science Monographs, 2001, p. 163.
  7. ^ Béla Köpeczi, History of Transylvania: From the beginnings to 1606, Social Science Monographs, 2001, p. 163.
  8. ^ Herwig Wolfram (1997). The Roman Empire and Its Germanic Peoples. University of California Press. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-0-520-08511-4. Retrieved 5 January 2013.