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King of Kings is a title that has been used by several monarchies (usually empires in the informal sense of great powers) throughout history, and in many cases the literal title meaning "King of Kings", i.e. Monarch elevated above other royal rulers in a vassal, tributary or protectorate position, especially in the case of Semitic languages, is conventionally (usually inaccurately) rendered as Emperor.

The first written record of its consistent use dates to Iranian Kings of the Persian Empire (pronounced Shahanshah) with an implicit notion of relation to a deity, and later with an overt spiritual connotation in the latter Persian empire of the Priest-Kings of the Sassanian Persian Empire. The well known story of the Zoroastrian Magi that traveled to Holy Lands to hail the heralded new King of Kings further establishes the Royal Priest connotations of the title, King of Kings. (this needs clarification)


  • Titles of this relative type have been in use from the most ancient times in Iranmarker.
  • The rulers of Persia, at various times (under Zoroastrian as well as Muslim dynasties), have been titled Shâhanshâh, the commonly used informal shortening Shah being the standard Persian term for King.
  • The Byzantine Emperor Heraclius adopted the Persian title after the Battle of Nineveh.
  • Whereas the most literal Sanskrit equivalent is Rajadhiraja, this is not of equal 'imperial' rank (compare Samraj) because of current use on the subcontinent of other lofty titles ranking above Raja, such as Maharaja (literally Great King, also greatly devaluated by title inflation) and Maharajadhiraja (Bahadur) 'Great King of kings'. The titles Maharajadhiraja and Rajadhiraja were also assumed by some great Kushan kings in the 1st and 2nd centuries, as was Devaputra or 'Son of God'. Nevertheless, the ancient Sanskrit title Rajadhiraja has been maintained in some formerly Hindu monarchies, such as in Buddhist Cambodia (as one of the secondary titles often used by the true reigning Sovereign, distinguishing him from several other Princes of the reigning dynasty who could simultaneously hold a kingly rank or even concurrent authority).
  • The Ethiopian Orthodox Emperor of Ethiopia's main title was (transliterations vary), with Negus being the standard Ge'ez (as well as most other Ethiosemitic languages) term for King, at the head of a complex semi-feudal pyramid. The first known use of this title in Ethiopia was the Aksumite King Sembrouthes, probably dating to the first half of the 2nd century AD.
  • The rulers of the Mali Empire used the title Mansa, meaning "king of kings," to denote their rulers, starting with the late 12th c. ruler Sundiata Keita.
  • The Turkish Ottoman dynasty, rivals of the Persians from the opposing Sunni branch of Islam, used, like the Shâhanshâh, the analogous style of Sultan of Sultans amongst other titles, including Persian Pādishāh and Hakan, the Turkish form of:
  • the Mongolian Khagan 'Khan of Khans'.
  • In orthodox Georgiamarker, the style Mepe-Mepeta was meant literally, as supreme among various 'true' Caucasian Christian kings, especially rivalling Armeniamarker, where the analogous style prince of princes had been used (635 - 885); the title was extended to the monarch ruling Georgia, no matter what the gender.
  • The Zulu conqueror Shaka adopted such a title after establishing total control over many Bantu neighbour tribes in southern Africa.
  • The Armenian king Tigranes the Great, was known as King of Kings, due to having several kings under his rule.
  • High King of Ireland The High King of Ireland ruled over the about 5 main kingdoms and more than 20 smaller kingdoms. They would rule over them as the king of all the kings.
  • Bretwalda Meaning "Overlord of Britain" was a term applied to the strongest of all the kings in Anglo-Saxon England, who would then claim lordship and demand loyalty over the other kingdoms in Britain
  • The Mongolian Great Khans and Batu Khan were called King of Kings in ancient chronicles.


  • Jesus Christ is termed King of Kings in the Bible, particularly in the Book of Revelation, 17:14 and 19:16. Jesus says in the Book of Matthew, verse 28:18, that all authority on earth has been given to him. In John 18:36 he says that his realm is not of this earth (Hebrew: olam hazeh, "this world, or age", in contrast with the olam haba, "the world to come", in which he will rule), a messianistic tradition within the Jewish faith, founded its Zionist ambitions of political independence from Rome (see Sicarii, while Christ preached a spiritual 'kingdom' instead) on its version that the Messiah would (re)establish the promised land of Israel as a mighty temporal kingdom; in Christianity, it is rather God the Father who thrones in heaven as ultimate ruler of the universe, high above all mortal monarchs. In this sense, "Lord of Lords" is a synonymous title of the Lord, as used by the Church Fathers, e.g. Against Heresies, V.26 (St. Irenaeus).
  • in Islam, the absolute use (the definite article is thus obligatory) of al-Malik, as #4 of the 99 known names of Allah, "The King", taken to imply 'The Sovereign Lord, The One with the complete Dominion, the One Whose Dominion is clear from imperfection' singles the only god out as supreme ruler over all earthly powers; another of these attributes, #84, is Malik Al-Mulk "King of the Realm", taken to mean 'The Eternal Owner of Sovereignty, The One who controls the Dominion and gives dominion to whoever He willed'.
  • Buddha is referred to as "King of Kings" in the Pali Tripitaka.
  • In Judaism, "King of Kings" - in Hebrew Melech ha-M'lachim - is an expression that refers to God, whose name may not be said. It is usually rendered as Melech Malchei Ha-M'lachim (King of Kings of Kings), to put it one step above the title by which Babylonian and Persian kings are referred to in the Bible (specifically in the Book of Daniel).
  • Selivanov, the co-founder of the Skoptsi, a Russian Christian sect which practiced sexual mutilation, who proclaimed himself the Son of God incarnate in the person of Emperor Peter III, claimed the titles "King of Kings" and even "God of Gods".
  • Haile Selassie I, the Ethiopianmarker Emperor was known as the "King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and the conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah" and based on these titles and their biblical reference is seen as God amonst the members of the Rastafari movement.

Popular culture

  • Professional wrestler Triple H, an influential figure in the business, refers to himself as the King of Kings, and has incorporated it into his gimmick. The band Motörhead has introduced a song called "King of Kings" as one of Triple H's entrance themes.
  • This isn't the first use of "The King of Kings" in professional wrestling, however, as wrestler Steve Corino used the nickname for years before WWE copyrighted it for Triple H's use.
  • In the video game Gradius III released by Konami, "King Of Kings" is the title often given to the musical score that plays on the high score screen when the player enters his/her initials. This short piece of music is used in both the arcade versions and home ports of the game.
  • In the 2004 film Troy, Agamemnon refers to himself (and is referred to by Achilles and Nestor) as "King of Kings".
  • In poker a four of a kind hand involving four kings is sometimes known as the "King of Kings".
  • In the first Dragon Quest game the primary villain, the Dragonlord refers to himself as the "King of Kings".
  • "King of Kings" is the name an album of reggaeton artist Don Omar released in 2006.
  • In the PlayStation 2 game "We Love Katamari" (a sequel to the PS2's Katamari Damacy), the King of All Cosmos sings a song during the ending credits (arguably about himself) including the title and named "The King of Kings".

  • "King Of Kings" is the name of a song of Heavy Metal Musicians Manowar, Released as a single on 2005.


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