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A petty kingdom is an independent realm recognizing no suzerain and controlling only a portion of the territory held by a particular ethnic group or nation. Petty kingdoms were prominent before the formation of many of today's nation-states. Many of today's countries were typically ruled by multiple local kings in more or less stable kingdoms. The various small states of the Holy Roman Empire are generally not considered to be petty kingdoms since they were at least nominally subject to the Holy Roman Emperor and not fully independent.


Before the Kingdom of England was established as a united entity, there were various kingdoms in the area—of which the main seven were known as the heptarchy. These were Wessexmarker, Merciamarker, Northumbriamarker (also extended into present-day Scotland), East Angliamarker, Sussex, Kent, and Essex.

Iberian peninsula

The Christian petty kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsulamarker that eventually formed Spainmarker included prior to complete unification:

See the article about the taifa for the Islamic petty kingdoms that existed in Iberia after the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba in 1031.


The earliest known kingdoms or tribes in Irelandmarker are referred to in Ptolemy's Geography, written in the 2nd century. He names the Vennicni, Rhobogdi, Erdini, Magnatae, Autini, Gangani, Vellabori, Darini, Voluntii, Eblani, Cauci, Menapii, Coriondi and Brigantes tribes and kingdoms.

Irish medieval pseudohistory gives a seemingly idealized division of kingdoms. The island is divided into "fifths" (Old Irish cóiceda, Modern Irish cúige). There is Ulaid (Ulster) in the north, Cóiced Ol nEchmacht (Connacht) in the west, Mumha or Mhumhain (Munster) in the south, and Laighin (Leinster) in the east. They all surround the central kingdom of Míde (whose name has survived in the modern counties Meathmarker and Westmeathmarker). Each of the outer four fifths had their own king, with the High King of Ireland ruling over them from Taramarker in Míde.

In historical times Míde disappeared as a province. The four remaining fifths contained large numbers of tuatha or sub-kingdoms, constantly shifting as old dynasties died and new ones formed.


In the early Viking Age, there were several different petty kingdoms. Spurred by the unification of several of these kingdoms under Halfdan the Black, his son Harald Fairhair was able to unite them all in 872.

Some of the kingdoms:


Medieval Serbiamarker comprised, at various time periods, smaller kingdoms of Rascia, Zeta (Dioclea, corresponding to portions of contemporary Montenegro) and the duchy of Hum (roughly corresponding to present-day Herzegovina and some of its surroundings).


There were many petty kingdoms in Scotlandmarker before its unification. They can be grouped by language:


According to the Norse sagas, and modern history, Swedenmarker was divided into more-or-less independent units in some areas corresponding to the folklands and the modern traditional provinces. According to the sagas, the folklands and provinces of eastern Svealand were united under the Swedish king at Gamla Uppsalamarker. Moreover, the domains of this king could also include parts of Götaland and even southern Norway. This probably reflects the volatile politics of Iron Age Scandinavia. The province of Smålandmarker once consisted of several petty kingdoms as also the meaning of the word Småland reveals (Små land = Small Lands/countries).

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