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I have been using the words "Rex Magna" for "High King" or "Great King", are those words correctly used or not and can one call titles this in Latin?


Many thanks for your replies, and sorry for the late reply from me, I am not used to watching this site, so I suddenly remembered my question today! :)

OK, so there's no "Rex Magna". But, with that in mind, is the name "Magna Carta" then wrong? Should it be "Magnus Carta" (or -Charta)?

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It's incorrect, because rex is masculine, and so it should be rex magnus.

Rex magnus does mean "great king." As a title, it has been used historically (e.g. by the Asturian-Leonese kings of the 10th century), but rarely; more usually, the adjective magnus is attached to the name, e.g. Carolus Magnus, rex Francorum; Fridericus Magnus, Borussorum rex, &c.

Addressing a king or other ruler, one might also use all kinds of superlatives: Serenissime, celsissime, potentissime rex/princeps/imperator ... (all ending in -e here, because direct addressing requires the vocative case). But as actual titles, these are usually not found.

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    For clarity, the examples given in the second paragraph translate as Charles the Great, king of the Franks; Frederick the Great, king of the Prussians, etc.. The terms of address in the third paragraph translate as Most serene, highest, most powerful king/prince/emperor as used in direct address.
    – dbmag9
    Commented Mar 30, 2023 at 13:00
  • @dbmag9 if we're adding clarifications, specifying that Charles the Great, king of the Franks is better known as Charlemagne (from the French reflex of Carolus Magnus)
    – Tristan
    Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 8:58
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We see the line "Quem das finem, rex magne, laborum?" appear in the Aeneid, in book 1 line 241. We can translate this as "What end of labors do you give, great king?" In this example the words "rex magne" are both in the vocative case. The speaker is addressing someone and calls them rex magne. I think the speaker might be Venus, and the god she is addressing might be Jupiter (Jove).

So we see that Jupiter gets called "rex magne" in the Aeneid. The noun "rex" is masculine so the adjective "magnus" would be used with "rex". The word "magnus" is declined as magnus, magni, magno, magnum, magno, magne in the masculine.

The word "rex" is found in many poems, hymns, and chapters from the Bible, to describe or address a god. We see the phrase "rex caelestis" in the hymn "Gloria in excelsis deo", and we see the phrase "rex gloriae" appear in psalm 23 from the vulgate bible.

Domine deus, rex caelestis, deus pater omnipotens. Lord God, heavenly king, heavenly father omnipotent. (Lyrics from "Gloria in excelsis deo")

Quis est iste rex gloriæ? Dominus virtutum ipse est rex gloriæ. Who is this king of glory? The Lord of hosts is the king of glory. (Vulgata Psalm 23:10)

So it is common to address a king by using "rex" in the vocative. There are many common addresses, like "rex magne", "rex caelestis", and "rex gloriae".

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Magna means a great woman, or a great girl, or a great feminine thing. In Latin, charta is feminine, so a great charta would be a magna charta.

Magnus means a great man, a great boy, or a great masculine thing. A charta is not a man nor a boy, nor a masculine thing, so it is not called a magnus charta.

A king, on the other hand, is either a man or a boy, so a great king would be a magnus rex. And a queen, as AndyB pointed out in his comment, would be a magna regina.

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    And a queen would be magna regina.
    – AndyB
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 5:04
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    I have now after a rather lengthy thought process, simply renamed the Empire from "Magna Rex" to "Terra Regis", The King's Land. It felt okay. Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 20:45
  • @Dracopticon Should have made it Terra Regia.
    – cmw
    Commented May 20 at 2:13
  • Thanks for your reply. Bu that is more or less exactly what I did. The fantasy empire is now called Terra Regis or ”Terregis” for short. The title of the ruler is the basis.
    – Erik
    Commented May 21 at 5:09

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