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Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King" (Roi-Soleil), who ruled at the height of Absolute monarchy in France (painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud 1701).

A king is the title given to a male monarch; a man who heads a monarchy. If it's an absolute monarchy, then he is the supreme ruler of it.

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  • Ten poor men sleep in peace on one straw heap, as Saadi sings,
    But the immensest empire is too narrow for two kings.




  • Et ses mains ourdiraient les entrailles du prêtre,
    Au défaut d’un cordon pour étrangler les rois.
    • Translation: His hands would plait the priest's guts, if he had no rope, to strangle kings.
    • Denis Diderot, "Les Éleuthéromanes", Poésies Diverses (1875), p. 16. Another frequently cited version is, "Et des boyaux du dernier prêtre / Serrons le cou du dernier roi" (translation: "Let us strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest"), attributed to Diderot by Jean-François de La Harpe, Cours de Littérature Ancienne et Moderne (1840), vol. 3, book 4, chapter 3, p. 415.
  • And kind as kings upon their coronation day.
    • John Dryden, Fables, The Hind and the Panther (1687), Part I, line 271.


  • A man's a man,
    But when you see a king, you see the work
    Of many thousand men.
If the Great Pirate's local strong man... had not already done so, the Great Pirate told him to proclaim himself king... and counted upon his king-stooge to convince his countrymen that he... was indeed the head man of all men -the god—ordained ruler. ~ Buckminster Fuller
... the Pirate said to the king... '...each of you must mind your own business or off go your heads. I’m the only one who minds everybody’s business' ~ Buckminster Fuller


  • The Great Pirate came into each of the various lands where he either acquired or sold goods profitably and picked the strongest man there to be his local head man... If the Great Pirate's local strong man in a given land had not already done so, the Great Pirate told him to proclaim himself king... the Great Pirate allowed and counted upon his king-stooge to convince his countrymen that he, the local king, was indeed the head man of all men -the god—ordained ruler. To guarantee that sovereign claim the Pirates gave their stooge-kings secret lines of supplies which provided everything required to enforce the sovereign claim. The more massively bejewelled the king’s gold crown, and the more visible his court and castle, the less visible was his pirate master. Ch. II, Origins of specialization
  • The Great Pirate [ruled]... And when the next bright boy was brought before him the King was to say, “I’m going to make you my Royal Treasurer,” and so forth... Then the Pirate said to the king, “You will finally say to all of them: ‘But each of you must mind your own business or off go your heads. I’m the only one who minds everybody’s business ”... This is the way schools began — as the royal tutorial schools. You realize, I hope, that I am not being facetious. That is it. This is the beginning of schools and colleges and the beginning of intellectual specialization.
  • The metaphor of the king as the shepherd of his people goes back to ancient Egypt. Perhaps the use of this particular convention is due to the fact that, being stupid, affectionate, gregarious and easily stampeded, the societies formed by sheep are most like human ones.


  • In your opinion, India means its few princes. To me it means its teeming millions on whom depends the existence of its princes and our own. Kings will always use their kingly weapons. To use force is bred in them. They want to command, but those who have to obey commands do not want guns: and these are in a majority throughout the world.
    • Mohandas Gandhi, Chapter XVII, Hind Swaraj, 1909. Quoted in Mahatma Gandhi : The Essential Writings, edited by Judith M. Brown. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. (p.321)




  • The state of Monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth; for kings are not only God's lieutenants upon earth and sit upon God's throne, but even by God himself they are called gods.
    • James I of England, speech to Parliament at Whitehall (21 March 1609), from Political Works of James I.


The French Revolution and the doings of Napoleon opened the eyes of the world. The nations knew nothing before and the people thought that kings were gods upon the earth and that they were bound to say that whatever they did as well done.
  • According to my judgement, the French Revolution and the doings of Napoleon opened the eyes of the world. The nations knew nothing before and the people thought that kings were gods upon the earth and that they were bound to say that whatever they did as well done.


  • Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of kingcraft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it comes from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent.
    • Abraham Lincoln, speech at Chicago, Illinois, July 10, 1858; in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 2, p. 500
  • It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.
    • Abraham Lincoln, seventh and Last Joint Debate with Stephen A. Douglas, at Alton, Illinois (15 October 1858)
  • It was a big thing to be a king. It meant that you were getting the feeling that you lived in a big room all by yourself where no one could see you and you were your own man. Free and alone.
    • George Lamming, In the Castle of My Skin (1953)


  • 'Long live the king,' cry the loving and the loyal, beside themselves with joy. 'Long live the king,' responds the republican hypocrite in dire terror. What does it matter? There is only one cry. And the king is crowned.
  • The king was probably... a good father and husband, and, according to his lights, what is commonly called “decent”. However, those lights and that decency are not our pacifist conception of goodness... The most astonishing assertion in the whole of this astonishing tribute is [when] the writer salutes “this Royal example of non-violent self-dedication”. Can it be that your correspondent in a moment of mental aberration confused his late Majesty King George VI with the late Mahatma Gandhi ? God save the people!
  • When you have seen your kings shit over the rail and turn green in a storm, it was hard to bend the knee and pretend they were gods.
  • Kings have no friends, only subjects and enemies.
  • We will not attempt any alliances with kings. We will not delude ourselves that we can remain free by relying on international treaties and diplomatic tricks. We will not beg for our wellbeing via the protocols of conferences or the promise of monarchic cabinet ministers...Therefore, listen Italian People: we will deal only with other peoples, never with kings.
    • Giuseppe Mazzini, On the Superiority of Representative Government. 1832. Quoted in Mark Mazower, Governing The World: The History of An Idea. Penguin Books, 2012.
  • A king is a king, not because he is rich and powerful, not because he is a successful politician, not because he belongs to a particular creed or to a national group. He is King because he is born. And in choosing to leave the selection of their head of state to this most common denominator in the world- the accident of birth- Canadians implicitly proclaim their faith in human equality; their hope for the triumph of nature over political manoeuvre, over social and financial interest; for the victory of the human person.
    • Jacques Monet, in "The Canadian Monarchy" in The West and the Nation : Essays in Honour of W. L. Morton (1976), edited by Ramsay Cook, and Carl Berger. p. 324.
  • Since absolutely no-one is born a king, no-one is a king in himself, and no-one can rule without a people.


  • A king born is better than one made. The best person will not be able to endure such an elevation without changing. Those who are born to it do not falter nor are they overwhelmed by such a position.
    • Novalis, "Faith and Love; or, the King and the Queen" (1798) in Novalis Schriften, Volume 2 (1907), p. 149
  • The king is the true life principle of the state; just like the sun in the planetary system. First of all, the supreme life in the state generates the atmosphere of light around the life principle. It crystallizes in every citizen to a greater or lesser degree. The citizen's speech in the presence of the king become as shining and thus poetic as possible, or become expressions of the greatest inspiration.
    • Novalis, "Faith and Love; or, the King and the Queen" (1798) in Novalis Schriften, Volume 2 (1907), p. 150
  • The king is a higher man to whom an earthly fate is given. This poetry imposes itself on a person necessarily. It alone satisfies a higher longing in his nature.
    • Novalis, "Faith and Love; or, the King and the Queen" (1798) in Novalis Schriften, Volume 2 (1907), p. 151


  • But there is another and great distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.
  • But Elias did propose an exogenous trigger to get the whole thing started, indeed, two triggers. The first was the consolidation of a genuine Leviathan after centuries of anarchy in Europe’s feudal patchwork of baronies and fiefs. Centralized monarchies gained in strength, brought the warring knights under their control, and extended their tentacles into the outer reaches of their kingdoms. According to the military historian Quincy Wright, Europe had five thousand independent political units (mainly baronies and principalities) in the 15th century, five hundred at the time of the Thirty Years’ War in the early 17th, two hundred at the time of Napoleon in the early 19th, and fewer than thirty in 1953. The consolidation of political units was in part a natural process of agglomeration in which a moderately powerful warlord swallowed his neighbors and became a still more powerful warlord. But the process was accelerated by what historians call the military revolution: the appearance of gunpowder weapons, standing armies, and other expensive technologies of war that could only be supported by a large bureaucracy and revenue base. A guy on a horse with a sword and a ragtag band of peasants was no match for the massed infantry and artillery that a genuine state could put on the battlefield. As the sociologist Charles Tilly put it, “States make war and vice-versa.” Turf battles among knights were a nuisance to the increasingly powerful kings, because regardless of which side prevailed, peasants were killed and productive capacity was destroyed that from the kings’ point of view would be better off stoking their revenues and armies. And once they got into the peace business—“the king’s peace,” as it was called—they had an incentive to do it right. For a knight to lay down his arms and let the state deter his enemies was a risky move, because his enemies could see it as a sign of weakness. The state had to keep up its end of the bargain, lest everyone lose faith in its peacekeeping powers and resume their raids and vendettas.
  • Feuding among knights and peasants was not just a nuisance but a lost opportunity. During Norman rule in England, some genius recognized the lucrative possibilities in nationalizing justice. For centuries the legal system had treated homicide as a tort: in lieu of vengeance, the victim’s family would demand a payment from the killer’s family, known as blood money or wergild (“manpayment”; the wer is the same prefix as in werewolf, “man-wolf”). King Henry I redefined homicide as an offense against the state and its metonym, the crown. Murder cases were no longer John Doe vs. Richard Roe, but The Crown vs. John Doe (or later, in the United States, The People vs. John Doe or The State of Michigan vs. John Doe). The brilliance of the plan was that the wergild (often the offender’s entire assets, together with additional money rounded up from his family) went to the king instead of to the family of the victim. Justice was administered by roving courts that would periodically visit a locale and hear the accumulated cases. To ensure that all homicides were presented to the courts, each death was investigated by a local agent of the crown: the coroner. Once Leviathan was in charge, the rules of the game changed. A man’s ticket to fortune was no longer being the baddest knight in the area but making a pilgrimage to the king’s court and currying favor with him and his entourage. The court, basically a government bureaucracy, had no use for hotheads and loose cannons, but sought responsible custodians to run its provinces. The nobles had to change their marketing. They had to cultivate their manners, so as not to offend the king’s minions, and their empathy, to understand what they wanted. The manners appropriate for the court came to be called “courtly” manners or “courtesy.” The etiquette guides, with their advice on where to place one’s nasal mucus, originated as manuals for how to behave in the king’s court. Elias traces the centuries-long sequence in which courtesy percolated down from aristocrats dealing with the court to the elite bourgeoisie dealing with the aristocrats, and from them to the rest of the middle class. He summed up his theory, which linked the centralization of state power to a psychological change in the populace, with a slogan: Warriors to courtiers.
  • Hideux dans leur apothéose
    Les rois de la mine et du rail
    Ont-ils jamais fait autre chose
    Que dévaliser le travail ?
    Dans les coffres-forts de la bande
    Ce qu'il a créé s'est fondu
    En décrétant qu'on le lui rende
    Le peuple ne veut que son dû.


  • Savoir dissimuler est le savoir des rois.
    • Deception is the knowledge of kings.
    • Cardinal Richelieu, “Maxims,” Testament Politique (1641)


  • A king asked a holy man, “Do you remember about me?” The holy man answered, “Yes, I think about you when I forget about God.”
    • Muslih-ud-din Saadi, cited in Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom, P. Sekirin, trans. (1997)
  • There's such divinity doth hedge a king,
    That treason can but peep to what it would.
  • Every subject's duty is the king's; but every subject's soul is his own.
  • The king-becoming graces,
    As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
    Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
    Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
    I have no relish of them.
  • A substitute shines brightly as a king
    Until a king be by, and then his state
    Empties itself, as doth an inland brook
    Into the main waters.
  • Let us sit upon the ground
    And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
    How some have been depos'd, some slain in war,
    Some haunted by the ghosts they have depos'd,
    Some poison'd by their wives, some sleeping kill'd;
    All murder'd.
  • Yet looks he like a king; behold, his eye,
    As bright as is the eagle's, lightens forth
    Controlling majesty.

The Bible in Wikisource

  • In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed. And this kingdom will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it alone will stand forever, just as you saw that out of the mountain a stone was cut not by hands, and that it crushed the iron, the copper, the clay, the silver, and the gold. The Grand God has made known to the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its interpretation is trustworthy.
  • Have you beheld a man skillful in his work? Before kings is where he will station himself; he will not station himself before commonplace men.
  • Who is like the wise man? Who knows the solution to a problem? A man’s wisdom lights up his face and softens his stern appearance. I say: “Obey the king’s orders out of regard for the oath to God. Do not rush to depart from his presence. Do not take a stand for anything bad; for he can do whatever he pleases, because the word of the king is absolute; who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 682-86.
  • Malheureuse France! Malheureux roi!
    • Unhappy France! Unhappy king!
    • Étienne Béquet. Heading in the Journal des Débats, when Charles X. was driven from the throne.
  • Ce n'est que lorsqu'il expira
    Que le peuple, qui l'enterra, pleura.
    • And in the years he reigned; through all the country wide,
      There was no cause for weeping, save when the good man died.
    • Pierre-Jean de Béranger, Le Roi Yvetot. Rendering of Thackeray, King of Brentford.
  • Der König herrscht aber regiert nicht.
    • The king reigns but does not govern.
    • Otto von Bismarck, in a debate in the Reichstag (Jan. 24, 1882). He denied the application of this maxim to Germany.
  • That the king can do no wrong is a necessary and fundamental principle of the English constitution.
  • I loved no King since Forty One
    When Prelacy went down,
    A Cloak and Band I then put on,
    And preached against the Crown.
  • God bless the King—I mean the faith's defender;
    God bless (no harm in blessing) the pretender;
    But who the pretender is, or who is King—
    God bless us all—that's quite another thing.
  • Fallitur egregio quisquis sub principe credet
    Servitutem. Nunquam libertas gratior extat
    Quam sub rege pio.
    • That man is deceived who thinks it slavery to live under an excellent prince. Never does liberty appear in a more gracious form than under a pious king.
    • Claudianus, De Laudibus Stilichonis, III. 113.
  • Now let us sing, long live the king.
  • Tout citoyen est roi sous un roi citoyen.
    • Every citizen is king under a citizen king.
    • Favart—Les Trois Sultanes, II. 3.
  • Es war ein König in Tule
    Gar treu bis an das Grab,
    Dem sterbend seine Buhle
    Einen gold'nen Becher gab.
    • There was a king of Thule,
      Was faithful till the grave,
      To whom his mistress dying,
      A golden goblet gave.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, The King of Thule. Bayard Taylor's translation.
  • The rule
    Of the many is not well. One must be chief
    In war and one the king.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book II, line 253. Bryant's translation.
  • On the king's gate the moss grew gray;
    The king came not. They call'd him dead;
    And made his eldest son, one day,
    Slave in his father's stead.
  • God gives not kings the stile of Gods in vaine,
    For on his throne his sceptre do they sway;
    And as their subjects ought them to obey,
    So kings should feare and serve their God againe.
    • King James, Sonnet Addressed to his son, Prince Henry.
  • Si la bonne foi était bannie du reste du monde, il faudrait qu'on la trouvât dans la bouche des rois.
    • Though good faith should be banished from the rest of the world, it should be found in the mouths of kings.
    • Jean II; see Biographie Universelle.
  • Over all things certain, this is sure indeed,
    Suffer not the old King, for we know the breed.
  • 'Tis so much to be a king, that he only is so by being so.
  • An nescis longos regibus esse manus?
    • Knowest thou not that kings have long hands?
    • Ovid, Heroides, XVII. 166.
  • The King is dead! Long live the King!
    • Pardoe—Life of Louis XIV, Volume III, p. 457.
  • But all's to no end, for the times will not mend
    Till the King enjoys his own again.
    • Martin Parker. Upon Defacing of White-Hall. (1645).
  • What is a king? a man condemn'd to bear
    The public burthen of the nation's care.
  • Savoir dissimuler est le savoir des rois.
    • To know how to dissemble is the knowledge of kings.
    • Richelieu, Miranne.
  • Here lies our sovereign lord, the king,
    Whose word no man relies on,
    Who never said a foolish thing,
    And never did a wise one.
    • Rochester. To Charles II. "That is very true, for my words are my own. My actions are my minister's." Answer of Charles II, according to the account in Hume's History of England, VIII, p. 312.
  • Here lies our mutton-looking king,
    Whose word no man relied on,
    Who never said a foolish thing,
    Nor ever did a wise one.
    • Another version of Rochester's Epitaph on Charles II, included in works of Quarles.
  • Wenn die Könige bau'n, haben die Kärmer zu thun.
    • When kings are building, draymen have something to do.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Kant und Seine Ausleger.
  • O Richard! O my king!
    The universe forsakes thee!
  • Kings are like stars—they rise and set, they have
    The worship of the world, but no repose.
  • Hener was the hero-king,
    Heaven-born, dear to us,
    Showing his shield
    A shelter for peace.
  • Le roi règne, il ne gouverne pas.
    • The king reigns but does not govern.
    • Thiers. In an early number of the National, a newspaper under the direction of himself and his political friends six months before the dissolution of the monarchy. July 1, 1830. Jan Zamoyski, in the Polish and Hungarian Diets.
  • Le premier qui fut roi, fut un soldat heureux;
    Qui sert bien son pays, n'a pas besoin d'aïeux.
    • The first king was a successful soldier;
      He who serves well his country has no need of ancestors.
    • Voltaire, Mérope. I. 3.
Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe's The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 224-226. Text online.
  • Let kings be as David was, men after God's own heart, yet they will not want a Shimei to rail on them.
    • Finch, L.C.J., Hampden's Case (1637), 3 How. St. Tr. 1232.
  • The King can do no wrong; he cannot constitutionally be supposed capable of injustice.
    • Sir John Nicholl, Goods of King George HI., deceased (1822), 1 St. Tr. (N. S.) 1287.
  • An hiatus in government is so detested and abhorred, that the law says, "the King never dies," that there may never be a "cesser" of regal functions for a moment.
    • Wilmot, L.C.J., Case of John Wilkes (1763), 19 How. St. Tr. 1130.
  • A people whom Providence hath cast together into one island or country are in effect one great body politic, consisting of head and members, in imitation of the body natural, as is excellently set forth in the statute of appeals, made 24 H. 8, c. 12, which stiles the King the supreme head, and the people a body politic (these are the very words), compact of all sorts and degrees of men, divided into spirituality and temporality. And this body never dies.
    • Sir Robert Atkyns, L.C.B., Trial of Sir Edward Hales (1686), 11 How. St. Tr. 1204.
  • It is true that the King never dies; the demise is immediately followed by the succession; there is no interval: the Sovereign always exists; the person only is changed.
    • Lord Lyndhurst, Viscount Canterbury v. Att.-Gen. (1843), 1 Phill. 322.
  • As a subject sues by attorney, so does the King; with a little variation of form, from decency: instead of saying, "The King sues by," it is said, "sues for the King"; and yet, "Coram domino rege venit dominus rex per attornatum suum, et inde producit seetam," was held to be good. Hale, Chief Justice, said, it was but an unmannerly way of declaring for the King.
  • "The King sues by his attorney," or "the attorney sues for the King," are only different forms of expressing the same thing. It is equally good either way, as appears by the cases in 2 Lev. 82, and 3 Keb. 127; and no legal reason, but good manners and decency, as Lord Hale calls it, have given the preference of one form to another. It is the King, who, by his attorney, gives the Court to understand and be informed of the fact complained of.
    • Wilmot. L.C.J., Case of John Wilkes (1763), 19 How. St. Tr. 1128.
  • The person of the King is by law made up of two bodies: a natural body, subject to infancy, infirmity, sickness and death; and a political body, powerful, perfect and perpetual.
    • Bagshaw, Rights of the Crown of England, 29
  • Menial servants attending the King must undoubtedly be privileged.
    • Lord Ellenborough, C.J., Batson v. McLean (1815), 2 Chitt. Rep. 52.
  • Compassing the death of the King is a legal conclusion from facts. So it is, almost, as to every other offence.

See also

  • Encyclopedic article on King on Wikipedia
  • The dictionary definition of king on Wiktionary
  • Media related to Category:Kings on Wikimedia Commons