King of Hearts Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

King of Hearts Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Playing cards are a popular tattoo subject, and they make for some stunning designs. If you want to have a King of Hearts tattoo on your body, you have a variety of design and placement possibilities. These cards, whether from pop culture or historical iconography, contain a variety of meanings, so make sure you fully understand what you’re getting before you get it.

The King of Hearts is a popular tattoo choice among avid card players and gamblers and can represent the love and passion a person has for gambling. Modeled after King Charles VII of France, the King of Hearts card has often been a symbol of mental illness. Whether a symbol of love or insanity, this playing card has some pretty awesome design choices. 

Read on for a deep dive into the king of hearts tattoo: symbolism, meanings ; more. 


What Is the History of King of Hearts Tattoos?

A Brief History of Playing Cards

The conventional deck contains 52 cards. There are 54 total, including two rarely used Joker cards. Every card in the deck belongs to one of four sets: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2. Each card in the set is assigned to one of the four suits: hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs.

While playing cards were initially discovered in China in the ninth century, the four suits of cards we know today were first produced in France in the 1480s. Hearts symbolized the Church at the time, diamonds were arrowheads, clubs were clovers from shepherds, and spades were knights. Some people nowadays believe that playing cards have a mystical significance.

  • Clubs– words, air, neutrality
  • Diamonds– matter, wealth, earth
  • Hearts– love, imagination, water, femininity 
  • Spades–  fire, masculinity, and willpower

A Brief History of the Court Cards

Because the court cards clearly reflected positions in the social hierarchy, people began to associate historical royal characters with these cards over time. Some card companies even printed the names of these historical figures on their decks.

  • The King of Clubs depicts a dynamic and energetic personality and is exemplified by Alexander the Great, one of the ancient world’s greatest kings.
  • The King of Diamonds is noble, renowned, and comes from a military family, all of which are traits connected with Julius Caesar. Traditionally, this king is depicted in profile, as Roman emperors were on coins.
  • The King of Spades denotes authority and force, as well as bravery. The card is considered to be biblical and worthy of Israel’s King David.
  • The King of Hearts is associated with King Charles of the Holy Roman Empire, commonly known as Charlemagne, and is thought to be friendly and worthy. Technically, he was the only real emperor among these kings.

The King of Hearts is a popular tattoo choice for a variety of reasons. Let’s explore those now.


What Do King of Hearts Tattoos Symbolize?

The king of hearts is a particularly poignant symbol. Not only is it a naturally strong card while playing poker or other card games, but it also has deeper symbolism.

While hearts are typically thought to symbolize love and purity, the King of Hearts can also represent suicide and mental instability. But, why?

Suicide and Mental Instability

The King of Hearts once wielded an ax above his head rather than a sword, which is why he is now known as the Suicide King. According to the legends, King Charles VII, who is depicted as the King of Hearts, slowly slipped into insanity after the death of two of his three sons. 

On his deathbed, Charles became obsessed with the idea that the King of Hearts, the 13th dressed card, was bringing him bad luck and claimed to see the number 13 everywhere. 

On his final day, one of his court doctors found Charles, a frail old man at this point, standing in the middle of the room holding a huge sword. He claimed to know the truth about 13 and then drove the sword through his head, killing himself. 

The playing card now portrays the king wielding a sword pointing toward his head. 

Love and Purity

Throughout history, hearts have been associated with love and purity, and many get a King of Hearts tattoo to portray this sentiment. While the evidence for insanity symbolism on the playing card is strong, there are symbols of love and purity present as well. 

The King of Hearts is the only of the king cards pictured without a mustache. One traditional explanation is that his absence of facial hair indicates that he is the purest of the four Kings. Being clean-shaven is thought to be a sign of goodness. 


What Do King of Hearts Tattoos Mean?

Like all tattoos, the meaning of the ink is purely in the hands of the individual. While many people get a King of Hearts tattoo just to show their affection for love, others use the tattoo as a permanent reminder of their mental health struggle.

Furthermore, the tattoo of the King of Hearts is popular among card players and gamblers. In a standard 52-card deck, the king is the highest-ranking of the face cards and reigns supreme in many card games. As a result, gamblers favor the King of Hearts to demonstrate their devotion to the game.  

Ultimately, many people perceive themselves to be lovers rather than fighters. They also profess to be the king of their own realm. This tattoo represents the love that they utilize to rule that realm.


Where Do King of Hearts Tattoos Usually Go?

King of Hearts tattoos are versatile and can go anywhere on the body. People who get these inked pictures typically get them in a place that is visible to them, so they serve as a visual reminder of the emotions and symbolism they represent. 

Popular King of Hearts Tattoo Placements

Couples also like to pair the Kings of Hearts and the Queen of Hearts together for matching tattoos. 


Characteristics and Styles of King of Hearts Tattoos

There are many different styles you can use when designing your King of Hearts tattoo. The most popular choice is the classic playing card design. A medieval design may be more appealing to you if you are more interested in the historical antidote of King Charles VII. 

While the above-mentioned designs are tamer versions of the tattoo, if you have more graphic taste, you may choose to go with a tattoo portraying the king with a knife going into his neck and protruding out of his forehead. Or you may opt for a more modern, abstract depiction of the King of Hearts.  

Final Thoughts On The King Of Hearts Tattoo

Getting a tattoo inspired by playing cards is an age-old practice for men and women alike. Given their popularity, they don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. No matter your motivation for getting a King of Hearts tattoo, always choose a design that complements your style and taste.  

As a tattoo is permanent, always go with experienced and competent artists to ensure the best quality work. Happy inking! 

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