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Early Medieval Irish Tuath
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Types of kings
What are the types of kings in medieval society?
There are three classes of kings in medieval Ireland; the king of peaks, king of troops, and the king of the stock of every head. These kings are named in
Ancient Irish Law: Laws of Satus or Franchise
(Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 1923).
The first type of kings are the
, which is the highest type of king in medieval ireland, and is called "a king of great kings." This term would be used when descibing a king of great power and status. Another phrase meaning this type of king is a "King of the stock of every head, or a king of over kings where the head that is stronger takes precedence of that which is less strong. In other words the greatest head (high king) has power over every head (lesser king) in the land.
The second type of king is called a
, which means a "king of peoples." This term would be used when describing a king that rules 3 to 4 túatha. Another phrase for this king is a "King of Troops," because he is a vice king of 2 or 3 troops, with 700 people in each troop, made up of 3 or 4 tuath. For more information on the troops that a king might rule over please see the warrior page
The third type of king in medieval Ireland is
, which means a "king of people." This term would be used when describing a king that rules one túatha. Another term for this king is the "King of Peaks."
Another term for a king is Rí Ardrí, which refers to the "King of Ireland." It is unclear as to whether anyone actually achieved this position because most of Ireland remained divided into the five main regions of Connacht, Ulster, Meath, Munster, and Leinster. There is no historical evidence suggesting that a single Rí Ardrí was able to unite all of these regions, thus, this may refer to a mythical title. For more information on the nobles a king ruled over please see the nobles page
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