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Petty kingdom

petty kingdom crusader kings, petty kingdom of mide
A petty kingdom is a kingdom described as minor or "petty" by contrast to an empire or unified kingdom that either preceded or succeeded it eg the numerous kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England unified into the Kingdom of England in the 10th century, or the numerous Gaelic kingdoms of Ireland unified under the Kingdom of England as the Kingdom of Ireland in the 16th Alternatively, a petty kingdom would be a minor kingdom in the immediate vicinity of larger kingdoms, such as the medieval Kingdom of Mann and the Isles relative to the kingdoms of Scotland or England or the Viking kingdoms of Scandinavia

In the context of the Dark Ages or the prehistoric Iron Age such minor kingdoms are also known as tribal kingdoms In the parallel Southeast Asian political model, petty kingdoms were known as Mueang

By the European High Middle Ages, many post-Roman Early Middle Ages petty kingdoms had evolved into principalities, grand duchies, or duchies By the European Early Modern era, many of these principalities had been mediatized into larger monarchies, but the ruling families were not considered morganatic for marriage considerations, and ranked equal to royal families in society 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


  • 1 Anatolia
  • 2 England
  • 3 Iberian peninsula
  • 4 Ireland
  • 5 Nepal
  • 6 Norway
  • 7 Serbia
  • 8 Scotland
  • 9 Sweden
  • 10 Wales
    • 101 Hen Ogledd
  • 11 References
  • 12 See also


Further information: Anatolian beyliks

Beyliks were small Turkish principalities or petty kingdoms governed by Beys, which were founded across Anatolia at the end of the 11th century in a first period, and more extensively during the decline of the Seljuq Sultanate of Rum during the second half of the 13th century

The Ottoman Empire quickly collected itself under Mehmed I and his son Murad II re-incorporated most of these beyliks into Ottoman territory in a space of around 25 years The final blow for the Karamanids was struck by Mehmed II who conquered their lands and re-assured a homogeneous rule in Anatolia The further steps towards a single rule by the Ottomans were taken by Selim I who conquered territories of Ramadanids and Dulkadirids in 1515 during his campaign against the Mamluks, and his son Süleyman the Magnificent who more or less completely united the present territories of Turkey and much more in his 1534 campaign Many of the former Anatolian beyliks became the basis for administrative subdivisions in the Ottoman Empire


Main articles: Heptarchy and List of Anglo-Saxon monarchs and kingdoms

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 Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria which also extended into present-day Scotland and originally formed from the earlier kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia, East Anglia formed from the union of the early kingdoms of Suffolk and Norfolk, Sussex, Kent, and Essex Other small Anglo-Saxon kingdoms existed at various points, including Hwicce, Lindsey which survived as the Parts of Lindsey, Lincolnshire and the Wihtwara Isle of Wight

During the 9th and 10th centuries the Norse also established the Kingdom of Jórvík centred around York, and the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw aka Danish Mercia They also controlled the Kingdom of East Anglia during this period

Prior to the arrival of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes the later Anglo-Saxons what is now England was ruled by numerous Brittonic kings, which are discussed under Wales below

Iberian peninsulaedit

The taifa were the various Islamic petty kingdoms that existed in Iberia after the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba in 1031

There were various Christian petty kingdoms as well on the peninsula that, in the middle ages, consolidated into the modern states of Spain and Portugal Over time, these consolidated into two "Crowns" that were themselves unified in the late 15th and early 16th centuries to the unified Kingdom of Spain

These include:

  • Crown of Castile
  • Kingdom of Castile
  • Kingdom of Galicia
  • Kingdom of León
  • Kingdom of Navarre a portion remained independent north of the Pyrenees before merging with France
  • Several other territories outside of Iberia, mostly in the Americas and central Atlantic Ocean
  • Crown of Aragon
  • Kingdom of Aragon
  • Principality of Catalonia
  • Kingdom of Valencia
  • Kingdom of Majorca
  • Several other territories outside of Iberia, mostly in other parts of the Mediterranean

The Kingdom of Portugal remained independent throughout most of the period of consolidation, except for a period of 60 years 1580-1640 when it was part of the Iberian Union


Main article: Kingdoms of Ireland

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

Irish medieval pseudohistory gives a seemingly idealized division of kingdoms The island is traditionally divided into five provinces or "fifths" Old Irish cóiceda, Modern Irish cúige, four of which survive today: Ulaid Ulster, modern Irish Ulaidh in the north, Cóiced Ol nEchmacht Connacht in the west, Mumha Munster, modern Irish an Mhumhain in the south west, and Laigin Leinster, modern Irish Laighin in the south east The fifth kingdom, Mide whose name has survived in the modern counties of Meath and Westmeath, modern Irish an Mhí and an Iarmhí in the centre/east, ceased to exist in the Middle Ages

At various points in history there existed a High King of Ireland, who ruled over the other kings as suzerain, much like the British High Kings and Anglo-Saxon Bretwalda There also existed Kings of Tara who did not rule all of Ireland but were recognised as holding positions of authority over the other kings These two titles were not mutually exclusive and were often held by the same individual

Each of the kings of these kingdoms titled rí ruirech or 'king of over-kings' was himself an over-king of several regional kings titled rí buiden or rí tuath, who in turn ruled over several túatha, whose rulers held the title rí benn or ri tuaithe The territories and hierarchy of all of these constantly shifted as old dynasties died and new ones formed, and as lower kings took higher positions Many of these túatha survived as later Irish baronies

Several of the regional kings were at various points independent of their provincial over-king and indeed rivalled them in power and territory Bréifne was originally part of Connacht but much of it lay in what is today Ulster It later split into East and West Bréifne Airgíalla Oriel and Cenél nEógain also known as the Northern Uí Néill, in contrast to the Southern Uí Néill who ruled Mide; In Fochla or In Tuaiscert, both meaning "the North"; Ailech; and Tyrone/Tír Eoghain were nominally part of Ulaid Osraige Ossory was originally part of Mumha, but lay between Mumha and Laigin and was controlled by both at various points Dál Riata was also an Irish sub-kingdom, which mostly lay in modern Argyll and Bute in Scotland but originated in and initially extended into north-eastern Ireland and was nominally subject to Ulaid In the 12th century Munster was split into two smaller over-kingdoms: Deasmhumhain Desmond, literally South Munster and Tuadhmhumhain Thomond, literally North Munster

In addition to the Irish petty kingdoms, there was a Norse presence on the island from the 9th century They conquered Dublin, where they established the Kingdom of Dublin Old Norse: Dyflin, Old Irish: Duibhlinn, which at various points was closely tied with the Norse Kingdom of Jórvík which was centred on modern York, England The Norse also controlled several other coastal settlements, including Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick


Before the unification of Nepal by the Shah Dynasty there were dozens of petty kingdoms The Karnali region was called the Baise Rajya Nepali: बाइसे राज्य, ie 22 Kingdoms, and the Gandaki region to the east was called Chaubisi rajya Nepali: चौबिसी राज्य, ie 24 Kingdoms


Main article: Petty kingdoms of Norway

In the early Viking Age, there were several different petty kingdoms Spurred by the unification of several of these kingdoms under Halfdan the Black and his son Harald Fairhair, the country unified around year 872

Some of the kingdoms:

  • Agder
  • Grenland
  • Hadeland
  • Hardanger
  • Hedmark
  • Hålogaland
  • Land
  • Namdalen
  • Nordmøre
  • Oppland
  • Orkdal
  • Rogaland
  • Romsdal
  • Sogn
  • Solør
  • Sunnmøre
  • Telemark
  • Toten
  • Trøndelag
  • Vestfold
  • Vingulmark
  • Voss


Main article: Serbia in the Middle Ages

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


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

  • Brittonic/Cumbric see Hen Ogledd:
    • Gododdin
    • Strathclyde
    • Rheged also extended into modern England
  • Pictish:
    • Fortriu
    • Pictavia
    • Cait
    • Ce, situated in modern Mar and Buchan
    • Circinn, perhaps situated in modern Angus and the Mearns1
    • Fib, the modern Fife, known to this day as 'the Kingdom of Fife'
    • Fidach, location unknown
    • Fotla, modern Atholl Ath-Fotla2
  • Anglian/Anglo-Saxon:
    • Bernicia also extended into modern England; conquered the former Gododdin territory
    • Northumbria formed from the union of Bernicia with the more southerly Deira; later controlled territory further west upon the incorporation of Rheged
  • Gaelic:
    • Dál Riata mostly modern Argyll and Bute but originated in and initially extended into Ireland
  • Old Norse/Norse-Gaelic; see also Scandinavian Scotland
    • Kingdom of the Isles Old Norse: Suðreyjar; also the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles
    • the Northern Isles Old Norse: Norðreyjar and Caithness were also Norse-ruled but were generally subject to Norway and/or Scotland see Earldom of Orkney


Further information: Consolidation of Sweden

According to the Norse sagas, and modern history, Sweden 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 Uppsala 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 Småland once consisted of several petty kingdoms; indeed, the name Småland means small lands/countries


Rarely has the country of Wales formed one cohesive kingdom For the greater part of its history, Wales evolved into four petty kingdoms, or principalities, following the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century Mountainous geography, forested glens, river valleys, and upland moors contributed to a strong sense of localism and autonomy, though the Welsh people shared a deeply felt sentiment of nationality, as reflected in Welsh law codified in the 10th century According to historian Professor John Davies, there are four geographic regions more or less equal in terms of resources and population, from which four principalities emerged: Ynys Môn for Gwynedd, the Severn river valley for Powys, the Vale for Glamorgan and the lands up to the Wye Morgannwg, and the Ystrad Tywi Valley of the Tywi for Deheubarth Rhodri the Great inherited Gwynedd from his father and Powys through his mother, and married Angharad of Seisyllwg Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire and ruling there by right of his wife Rhodri exerted great influence in the rest of Wales as well, and after his death his realms were divided amongst his sons Nevertheless, the House of Aberffraw of Gwynedd, as the senior line descendants of Rhodri the Great, claimed overlordship over the whole of Wales, though they would encounter resistance by junior dynasts of Dinefwr It would not be until the 1216 Council of Aberdyfi that the Aberffraw line under Llywelyn the Great would be able to secure their position as Prince of the Welsh

  • Gwynedd 5th century–1282 conquest by Edward I of England
    • See also History of Gwynedd during the High Middle Ages
    • See also Culture of Gwynedd during the High Middle Ages
    • Meirionydd
    • Rhos
    • Edeyrnion
  • Deheubarth 920-1116 merged with Gwynedd to form the de facto Principality of Wales
    • Seisyllwg, a petty kingdom from 680–920, comprising Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi In 871, Princess Angharad inherited Seisyllwg, and her husband Rhodri of Gwynedd-Powys administered it by right of his wife on her behalf, and incorporated it into his kingdom Later, Angharad and Rhodri gave Seisyllwg to their second son Cadell ap Rhodri to rule as a vassal and appendage of Gwynedd Cadell founded the Dinefwr dynasty of Deheubarth
      • Ceredigion
      • Ystrad Tywi
    • Dyfed, a petty kingdom between c 410–920, merged into Deheubarth through inheritance
  • Powys
    • Brycheiniog
    • Gwrtheyrnion
    • Buellt
    • Pengwern
    • Elfael
    • Maelienydd
  • Morgannwg
    • Glywysing
    • Gwent
      • Ergyng
  • Dumnonia Located in modern South West England

Hen Ogleddedit

There existed other Brittonic petty kingdoms outside of modern Wales and the North West of England These are collectively known as Hen Ogledd or 'the Old North' With the exception of Ystrad Clut, which became part of Scotland in around the 11th century, most of these had been absorbed into Anglo-Saxon kingdoms by the 8th century

  • Rheged, located mainly in modern Northern England
    • Elmet
  • Gododdin, located in modern Scotland
  • Ystrad Clut or Strathclyde, located mainly in modern South West Scotland but extending into Cumbria
  • Deira Anglo-Saxon kingdom in modern Yorkshire believed to be of Brittonic origin
  • Bryneich, located in modern North East England Later became the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Bernicia


  1. ^ Forsyth, "Lost Pictish Source", Watson, Celtic Place Names, pp 108–109
  2. ^ Bruford, "What happened to the Caledonians", Watson, Celtic Place Names, pp 108–113

See alsoedit

  • Kingdoms in pre-colonial Africa
  • Lehnsmann, for an account of what it was like to be a petty ruler
  • Mueang
  • Princely state

petty kingdom, petty kingdom crusader kings, petty kingdom of mide, petty kingdoms, petty kingdoms of norway, petty kingdoms of scandinavia, petty kingdoms of the uk

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