The following list of German Kings and Emperors is one of several Wikipedia lists of incumbents.
The relationship between the title of "king" and "emperor" in the area that is today called Germany is just as irritating and complicated as the history and the structure of the Holy Roman Empire itself. The following remarks may or may not clarify things a little (for details, refer to the Holy Roman Empire article):
- The Holy Roman Empire (although only titled as such much later) started out as the eastern section of the Frankish kingdom, which was split by the Treaty of Verdun in 843 (while the western section eventually became France). The first rulers of the eastern area thus called themselves reges Francorum, kings of the Franks. A reference to the "Germans", indicating the emergence of a German nation of some sort, did not appear until the 11th century.
- For most of the time, at least until 1508, becoming king was a prerequisite for becoming emperor. As a rule of thumb, after being crowned emperor by the Pope (a title with a religious connotation), a king remained King of the Germans (a rather political title with functions in Feudal Law). The first of the eastern rulers to become Emperor was Otto I the Great (in 962).
- The kingdom was never entirely hereditary; instead, ancestry was only one of the factors that determined the succession of kings (and thus emperors). The king was formally elected by the leading nobilty in the realm, continuing the Frankish tradition. With the Golden Bull of 1356, a collegiate of Electors was formally established which elected the king.
- In 1508 Maximilian I, who had not yet been crowned by the Pope, announced that henceforth he would use the title of "Emperor-Elect", which was used by all succeeding emperors. His successor, Charles V, was the last emperor to be crowned by the Pope - henceforth, all Holy Roman Emperors were merely "Emperors-Elect". At the same time, the chosen successors of the Habsburg emperors began to be elected as "King of the Romans" during their father's lifetime.
With the death of the last Carolingian king of East Francia, Louis the Child, the East Frankish nobles elected a replacement. Conrad came from a family as old as the Carolingians, and which had established substantial connections in East Francia.
- Conrad I, king 911-918
Ottonian Saxon Dynasty
- Lothar II, king 1125, emperor 1133-1137
Staufen or Hohenstaufen
- Otto IV of Brunswick, king 1208, emperor 1209-1215
- Rudolph I of Habsburg, king 1273-1291
- Adolf of Nassau-Weilburg, king 1292-1298
- Albert I of Habsburg, king 1298-1308
- Henry VII of Luxemburg, king 1309, emperor 1311-1313
- Louis IV Wittelsbach, king 1314, emperor 1328-1347
- Charles IV of Luxemburg, king 1347, emperor 1355-1378
- Wenceslaus of Luxemburg, king 1378-1400
- Ruprecht III Wittelsbach of Palatinate, king 1400-1410
- Sigismund of Luxemburg, king 1410, emperor 1433-1437
House of Habsburg
- Albert II of Habsburg, king 1438-1439
- Frederick III, king 1440, emperor 1452-1493
- Maximilian I, king 1486 (under his father), emperor-elect 1508-1519
- Charles V, emperor-elect 1519-1530, emperor 1530-1558
- Ferdinand I, king 1531, emperor 1558-1564
- Maximilian II, king 1562, emperor 1564-1576
- Rudolf II Habsburg, king 1575, emperor 1576-1612
- Matthias, emperor 1612-1619
- Ferdinand II, emperor 1619-1637
- Ferdinand III, king 1636, emperor 1637-1657
- Ferdinand IV, king 1653-1654
- Leopold I, emperor 1658-1705
- Joseph I, king 1690, emperor 1705-1711
- Charles VI, emperor 1711-1740
House of Wittelsbach