King of the Iron Islands is a title used by the ruler of the Iron Islands as a sovereign nation. Balon Greyjoy has declared himself King twice, once during the Greyjoy Rebellion, and a second time during the War of the Five Kings, effectively seceding his domain from the rule of the Iron Throne.
Historical Kings of the Iron Islands
- The Grey King - the legendary first King of the Iron Islands and ancestor of House Greyjoy.
- Harren of House Hoare - Harren, his father, and his grandfather held the expanded title of "King of the Isles and the Riverlands", due to their conquest of the Riverlands.
Modern Kings of the Iron Islands
- Balon of House Greyjoy, the Ninth of His Name since the Grey King.
- <Euron> Greyjoy, also known as The Crow's Eye, King of the Iron Islands after Balon Greyjoy's death.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Iron Islands were an independent sovereign kingdom from the Dawn Age, up until they were conquered by Aegon I Targaryen three centuries ago during the War of Conquest.
"Kingship" over the Iron Islands actually has an odd history compared with practices on the mainland, particularly because the position is not necessarily hereditary. For much of their history, each island was its own "kingdom" but each had two kings: a "rock king" who ruled the land, and a "salt king" who commanded at sea. The "King of the Iron Islands", or "High King", was an over-king set above the rest. Moreover, the "High King of the Iron Islands" was an elective kingship, not a hereditary one (somewhat similar to early practice in the Holy Roman Empire). Each new High King was elected in an assembly known as a Kingsmoot.
Five thousand years ago, House Greyiron killed all of the representatives at the last Kingsmoot, and ruled the Iron Islands as hereditary kings for a thousand years. The Greyirons were destroyed four thousand years ago during the Andal Invasion, when they were deposed by House Hoare. Even so, House Hoare apparently summoned a Kingsmoot to confirm their new rule when they overthrew the Greyirons, but the practice was not revived and House Hoare continued to rule as hereditary kings for the next four thousand years, up until their destruction in the Targaryen Conquest. House Greyjoy was subsequently selected to rule over the Iron Islands on behalf of the Targaryens. During the first Greyjoy Rebellion, Balon Greyjoy declared himself king and rebelled against the mainland, his claim to kingship over the rest of the ironborn partially based on the fact that he was already overlord of the islands.
During the War of the Five Kings, Balon Greyjoy makes a second attempt to secede from the mainland and declares independence once again as King of the Iron Islands. However, it is pointed out within the narrative that the matter of Balon's succession is unclear, given the Iron Islands' unusual practices in the past of elective kingship. Even after the Kingsmoots ended, when the kingship became hereditary, the line of succession within the royal family was often very unstable, and decided at the point of a sword. The revived "Kingdom of the Iron Islands" has not yet settled upon a new pattern of inheritance law, thus there is some dispute and jockeying for position over who exactly is Balon's designated heir. Following the primogeniture laws of the mainland, Theon would be Balon's heir as his only surviving son. However, under equal primogeniture laws (such as in Dorne), his older sister Asha (Yara in the TV series) could be argued to be the heir. Moreover, other forms of inheritance laws (similar to real-life Anjou) would actually place the king's brothers ahead of his children, thus favoring Balon's brothers Euron and Victarion. Euron has been exiled from the islands, however, and Balon's youngest brother Aeron voluntarily does not consider himself eligible to succeed because he is a priest of the Drowned God. Ultimately, the matter might be decided by a Kingsmoot, in which case the most popular potential heir would succeed. In such a scenario, Theon isn't very popular, and Asha/Yara would have difficulty succeeding to power as a woman in the misogynistic culture of the ironborn, while Victarion is very well respected as the commander of the Iron Islands' navy. This leads to considerable bickering over who exactly is considered to be Balon's royal heir. In contrast to the kingship, succession over simple lordships in the Iron Islands (such as Balon's lordship of Pyke island), follows the male primogeniture laws of the mainland.
- The King of the Iron Islands at A Wiki of Ice and Fire (spoilers from the books)
|Lord:||King Balon Greyjoy||Heir:||Princess Yara Greyjoy/Prince Theon Greyjoy (disputed)|
|Seat:||Pyke, Pyke||Lands:||The Iron Islands|
|Title(s):||King of the Iron Islands · Lord Reaper of Pyke · King of Salt and Rock · Son of the Sea Wind · Lord of the Iron Islands|
|Ancestors:||The Grey King · Vickon Greyjoy|
|Current members:||Aeron Greyjoy · Queen Alannys Greyjoy · Euron Greyjoy · Victarion Greyjoy|
|Deceased members:||Rodrik Greyjoy · Maron Greyjoy|
|Household:||Dagmer · Lorren · Drennan · Gelmarr · Stygg · Aggar · Wex · Urzen|