The Suicide King Card Explained

Jul 12, 2023

history of playing cards

There are 4 kings in a deck of 52 cards, but the Suicide King Card is the most unique one, and the one that reflects the long history of playing cards. Most people don’t even know how to play cards, but those that do go above and beyond to understand each card and the symbols behind them.

The Suicide King is the name given to the King of Hearts card in a deck of playing cards, and it is the card that sparks the attention of every playing card enthusiast. Read below to know why is the King of Hearts card is called the Suicidal King.

Why is the King of Hearts Card Called the Suicide King?

Suicide King card k

The King of Hearts is referred to as the Suicidal King, mostly because the card shows a king holding a dagger and stabbing himself in the head. Something all four kings have in common is that they are holding a weapon. While the other 3 kings look ready to strike, the King of Hearts looks as if he is killing himself with his own sword.

With hundreds of years of history from many cultures, the Suicide King Card is a unique example of how little mistakes can make big differences. 

What is the Origin of the Suicide King Card?

Origin of the Suicide King Card

Something you may not know is that each king card depicts popular rulers from our history. 

The King of Diamonds shows the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, the King of Clubs shows Alexander the Great, and the King of Spades depicts David, who was the King of Israel.

The King of Hearts has Charlemagne on it, who was the King of France. While there is no confusion over which ruler the other cards depict, there is always a debate going on about which ruler the King of Hearts represents, mostly because of the Suicidal King symbol.

Many sources claim that the Suicide Kings cards are based on the Roman emperor Augustus, who was most likely depressed. Other sources claim that the suicidal king is not Charlemagne but instead his nephew Charles the Seventh. 

The theories surrounding the Suicide King Card point to a depressed king who is killing himself, but that is not the truth. The King of Hearts original designs showed a king holding a battle axe and ready to battle, but due to a printing error, the king appears to be stabbing himself in the head with his own weapon. 

When Did the King Of Hearts Card Became the Suicide King Card?

Hearts Card Became the Suicide King Card

The King Hearts card became the Suicide King card when the 52 deck reached the British Empire. Originally French, playing cards became popular in England in the 16th century, which led to a rise in demand for these cards. 

Since it was hard to make exact copies, the cards made in England differed from the original design. The Battle axe slowly vanished over time and turned into a dagger, and the king who looked the most eager for battle turned into the suicidal king. This little mistake ended up affecting what the card represented.

While there is no end to theories about suicide king cards, the printing error is the most correct one, as the previous designs actually show the king with a battle axe.

Another thing that you may have noticed is that the King of Hearts is the only king without a mustache. This is also because of the printing error.

Final Thoughts

Despite being called the suicidal king, the King of Hearts is an insanely powerful card in the 52 deck. Anyone who has the Suicidal King card will be at a great advantage over other players. 

Don’t forget, the King of Hearts originally had a king who was ready to strike while the other kings were just holding a weapon. This surely means that the creators of the 52 deck wanted the King of Hearts to be different from other kings. 

Now that you know the story behind the Suicide King Card, I’m sure that you won’t see it as a depressed king, but instead as a warrior who is ready for war and makes great use of the card.