- NOTE: This article is about the 145th King of Eldia. You may be looking for information on the King of Eldia from 2,000 years ago.
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|“||If Marley strengthens its powers to take away the Founding Titan, it will be accepted. If Marley wants to bring about the extinction of the Eldians, it will be accepted. Eldia's sin is heavy. It can't be atoned for. To begin with, Eldians and Titans... shouldn't have existed. We'll correct what went wrong. But until the retaliation, I want to enjoy the paradise for a little while, where there is no dispute within the walls. Please forgive me for it.||„|
|~ Willy Tybur quoting Karl Fritz.|
|“||There is meaning in every catastrophe. Whether humanity is fated to die, or survive...that decision is in God's hands. My mission is to summon God back into this world and offer my prayers to her.||„|
|~ Rod Reiss preaching Karl's ideology and intending to "bring him back" through Historia Reiss.|
Karl Fritz, the 145th King of Eldia, also simply referred as King Fritz and later as King Reiss, is a minor but pivotal antagonist of the Attack on Titan manga/anime series. He is the creator of the Wall Titans and the posthumous overarching antagonist of the Uprising arc and Grisha Yeager's confrontation against the Reiss family. He was an Eldian king who, unlike his ancestor was said to have disliked Eldia's imperialism and wanted to end its oppression over the nation of Marley. He eventually succeeded and brought "peace" between the two nations by ending the Great Titan War a century ago and took as many Eldians as he could to Paradis Island, where he moved the kingdom's capital and built the Walls, but also erased the Eldians' memories to maintain this peace, making them believe humanity beyond the Walls was extinct, completely wiped out by the Titans.
This was done not just so the king could enjoy his peace but leave the Eldians vulnerable to Marley's retribution, as Karl Fritz believed Eldia could never be redeemed, despite the fact their descendants would have no involvement in Eldia's crimes. He later changed his name to Reiss, while the rest of the Fritz members that had not fled with the others to the island remained in the continent of their crumbling empire during the Great Titan War, where they suffered defeat at the hands of the Marleyans. The royal Eldian family became split in two branches and the last member of the side from the continent was Dina Fritz. Her son Zeke Yeager is the last descendant of the Fritz branch on the continent.
Walls' history version (mostly true, except origins): Over one hundred years ago, humanity was at the brink of destruction. An Intelligent Titan known as the First Reiss King emerged, with the mysterious power of Coordination. Instead of destroying the Titans, the First King dreamed of a world in which mankind was ruled by them. He created the Walls, then created the Reiss bloodline of Kings. The First King then eliminated anyone's knowledge of these events with the power of his Founding Titan, in the hope of creating his perfect utopia. The only people immune to his mental manipulation were several bloodlines including the Ackerman and the Asian Azumabito Clans. The First King made all these bloodlines into the highest ruling classes of nobility, while the Ackermans were already a family of warriors serving directly under the royal family. However, some of the noble families, including the Ackermans and the Azumabito, rebelled against the King and his ideology, resulting with them being hunted down to be wiped out, leaving only five families immune to the Coordinate's power loyal to the Reiss family. This led to centuries of persecution on all rebel groups, finally leaving both Ackermans and Azumabito nearly on the brink of extinction. Years before the beginning of the series's first season, the Ackerman persecution finally ended through Kenny Ackerman swearing allegiance to King Uri Reiss, resulting with the unaware Mikasa Ackerman being able to use her last name in public.
Marley's historical version (half true, half propaganda): Karl Fritz was the despicable and cruel 145th King of Eldia, who in his incompetence neglected to control the Empire's ruling families and factions with the power of the Founding Titan, resulting with the noble families holding eight of the Nine Titans waging war against each other and eventually starting the civil war known as the Great Titan War. In the midst of chaos, one brave and clever Marleyan servant, the hero Helos, destroyed any remaining stability within the Eldian Empire's government with his clever manipulations, engulfing the flames of infighting between Eldia's factions. Helos became the leader of the Marleyan uprising, leading the oppressed Marleyans into their own faction against all others in the war. Then one of the eight Eldian families, the House of Tybur, joined the Marleyan side of the conflict, aiding them with the power of the War Hammer Titan. Together, Helos and the Savior Lord Tybur brought the Marleyans to victory by defeating the unbeatable Karl Fritz and his Founding Titan, who however managed to escape alive and led a small part of his subjects along with him to relocate on a remote island north of the continent. The rest of the Eldian Empire crumbled and the nation of Marley was reborn on the mainland.
However, Karl Fritz left an ultimatum to the Marleyans and the remaining royal family on the continent, warning them to never attack his kingdom within his newly created Walls on his island, or else the tens of millions of Colossal Titans which made these Walls would be released to flatten the entire planet. Thus, the island was never attacked, and according to Marley's scholars the only reason why the world was never attacked by the Rumbling is pure luck. However, the Eldians within the Walls wish to rule the world once more and seek revenge against the "inferior human races" who turned against their supremacy, and they still plot and dream to restore the Eldian Empire and bring genocide to the rest of the world. Thus, the Motherland Marley must save humanity by wiping out the devils of Paradis Island, retake the Founding Titan and put an end to the threat of the Rumbling. The Marleyan Warriors must be sent to destroy all the devils within the Walls, bring the world's judgement upon them and save humankind, possibly redeeming the "Good Eldians" in the world's internment zones from their sins.
The full truth: Willy Tybur reveals that the 145th King of Eldia, Karl Fritz, actually allied himself with Marley because he pitied them. He felt disgusted at the history and actions of the Eldian Empire, and more than anything he felt awful for the endless oppression of the Marleyans, slaves of the nation. Together with the Tybur family, he encouraged the already existent infighting, rivalries and hostilities between the Empire's political factions and noble families, while he personally and deliberately neglected to use the Founder's power to control them to keep them peaceful. Karl and Lord Tybur fabricated the Marleyan hero Helos to give the Marleyans hope, while starting the Great Titan War and causing the Marleyan uprising themselves. Karl felt the Eldians deserved punishment for their inhumane treatment of the Marleyans and thus took as many Eldian subjects as he could and banished himself with them on Paradis Island, leaving the rest on the mainland for Marley to do as they please and entrusting the rest of the war to the Savior of Tybur. Karl brought with him within the Walls his sworn protectors of the Ackerman family. Also amidst the chaos, a retinue from an Asian country named Hizuru and a member of the Shogunate's ruling family, the Azumabito clan, ended up stuck in the Walls's society and for some reason they were not allowed to leave to return home. As the war was still ongoing, Karl created the Walls by using the hardening power of tens of millions of Colossal Titans. He then used the power of the Founder to modify the memories of all the Subjects of Ymir within the Walls and made them believe they were the last remnants of the human race, while all the rest was completely wiped out by the Titans. By retreating to Paradis, Karl Fritz willingly brought an end to the centuries-long reign of the Eldian Empire. Eventually, the Great Titan War would be won by Marley, finally ending the Eldian Empire after almost 1,900 years of global domination.
Before closing the Walls, Karl sent a final message to the Fritz family and the Marleyans on the mainland, warning the entire world that if anyone would ever interfere with his paradise by attacking, the Titans within the Walls would be released to flatten the world. However, this was never Karl's intention and was just a deterrent to keep the world's other nations away from the Walls, which allowed for a brief age of peace within the Walls. The King firmly believed that Eldia could never make up for what they had done, as the number of lives ruined or stolen was too much. Accordingly, he felt that Marley would be in the right to eliminate all Eldia, should they choose to. As a secret part of his last message, he told these feelings to the new Marleyan rulers, who were not to reveal it to the people. However, he also asked for Marley and the rest of the world to wait with their retribution for some time, wanting to enjoy the "peace" of Paradis. To ensure this would never change, Karl used the power of the Coordinate to create his sacred vow renouncing war and force it on the Founding Titan to ensure all his successors would inherit his ideology and never try to restore Eldia or fight for its survival against the world's retribution. As humans are weak to power, Karl declared that the Founding Titan would never go in the hands of weak people ever again, and one day the Subjects of Ymir, the sinners, would have to face the world's judgement and accept it as atonement and justice.
By forcing his ideology through the vow renouncing war, Karl Reiss condemned his people to a life of nigh-solitude and prevented any technological advancement. His selfish nature is evident by the fact that he altered the Founding Titan so that his descendants would unwillingly inherit his self-hating/self-destructive ideology forcing them into slaves to his will. Karl appeared to be too arrogant and egotistical to realize he himself was oppressing his own people, but he refused to admit his faults in this matter and allowed all the blame to fall onto others. This can actually be a sign of narcissistic personality disorder.
Karl's vow would be passed down to all his inheritors of the Reiss royal family for more than 100 years. Also Karl's religious beliefs, teaching and ideology became part of the Walls's society and law in the government. Distortev version of the history of humanity and Eldia remained present in the history books of the Walls, which all insisted that all humanity outside perished, without any room for discussion. The law of the government is loyal to King Reiss's ideology and discouraged society from having any interest for the outside world. Showing too much interest towards the outside, or starting to speculate too much will likely result in the "mysterious" disappearance of the individuals involved. For an entire century, technology within the Walls never developed and no weapons to fight the Titans back were ever created. The royal government personally executed anyone who develop any form of better technology, but instead of destroying said discoveries, the members deep in the government kept it hidden to enjoy it for themselves. When better guns were created, the inventor was murdered, but the weapons would be used by the Military Police's First Interior Squad. Any possession about books containing possible information or speculation about the outside world is illegal. The Arlert family owned one book like that, which resulted in Armin Arlert's parents creating a hot hair balloon and use it to fly outside the Wall to explore the world. The couple's intentions were discovered by the government, and both were killed by MP soldiers of the First Interior Squad including Djel Sannes, in order to protect Karl's utopia.
As Karl's history teaches all humanity within the Walls that all their records have been lost, history behind the last century is vague and a complete mystery. When a teacher named Smith was found suggesting that the First King might have had some form of power to alter the memories of the people in order to create civilization within the Walls, Sannes questioned the teacher's son Erwin and later kidnapped, tortured and killed the teacher to protect the Reiss's peace and paradise. An old song narrates a legend telling the world before the Titans was once filled with many different human races and cultures all fighting against each other over different ideals and beliefs, until one day "someone" wondered "what if humanity had a common enemy", and the Titans appeared in the world to wipe out most of the human races until only the people inside the Walls were left. These legends and songs narrating about humanity having to be united and peaceful might originate from Karl's ideology of peace and utopia. A lot of Karl's preaching about the paradise and humans being sinners who must stay inferior to the Titans is part of the religious teachings of the Church of the Walls. The Church and the Reiss family view the Walls as a creation of God, and as such the royal government prays the Founding Titan's will of the First Reiss King as God himself.
Roughly 101 years after the foundation of society within the Walls, "judgement" came for Eldia when the Colossal Titan appeared and destroyed Wall Maria in 845. There is still a belief in the world, especially prominent in Marley, that Eldia will try to rule the world once more, and the people of the Walls seek revenge for the Great Titan War and wish to bring genocide and death upon humanity and the globe by releasing the Rumbling. The rest of the world outside Marley, however, is busy hating on the Subjects of Ymir who live in the internment zones in all nations and consider them a danger to society who should be exterminated once and for all.
Marley has spent the last century using its Subjects of Ymir as Titan war weapons to conquer other nations and expand its domination through the entire continent and its islands. By the time of the beginning of the series, the entire continent is part of Marley. To every other nation in the world beside Marley, Paradis Island is mostly a nearly-forgotten evil memory of the past, while Marley's colonial empire and warmongering and the despised Eldians of the internment zones are their real concerns. During the age of imperialism, colonization, modernization and industrialization, Marley sends four child soldiers of its military's Warrior Unit, under the pretext of saving the world from the Rumbling. The real purposes of the destruction of the Walls have nothing to do with saving the world, as the Marleyan government is almost sure that the royal family will still not use the power of the Founder to fight back. The true purposes are to recover the Founding Titan power and to gain control of all the island's resources, which will help the nation to maintain and expand its global and military dominance, as well as to take revenge for the vicious history between Marley and Eldia. For obvious reasons, Marley's leaders did not reveal the world nor their people the political purposes of the operation.
Karl Reiss's paradise is threatened by the mission of the Eldian Restorationists, a revel movement from Marley. Its last remaining member, Grisha Yeager, confronts the Reiss royal family in their secret hideout below a chapel just as Wall Maria's lands are being invaded by the Titans and the population of Wall Sina recently received the news. Grisha's pleads to the Founding Titan holder, Frieda Reiss, go unheard, as Karl's ideology and vow renouncing war prevent Frieda from having any free will. As all Frieda does is repeating Karl's beliefs and refuses to stop the invasion, declaring that judgement has finally come to the Subjects of Ymir. This results in the royal family getting massacred by Grisha's Attack Titan, who steals the Founding Titan by eating Frieda, while only the family's patriarch, Rod Reiss, manages to escape.
Five years later in 854, following more Titan attacks by Marley's Warriors and the discovery of Colossal Titans inside the Walls, results in an internal conflict between the royal government trying to preserve Karl's peace and the Survey Corps trying to discover the truth of the world. It starts from the moment the holder of both Attack and Founding Titans, Eren Yeager, is revealed and brought victory in the Battle of Trost District. After the Military Police seizes Eren, the royal government controlled by Rod Reiss makes multiple attempts to recover the Founding Titan back by using the law, first by having the Military Police gain custody of Eren under the pretext of "dissection" through winning a military trial, then try to disband the Survey Corps once and for all for all the failed missions and deaths in their expeditions. But after the capture of one of the Marley Warriors, Annie Leonhart, a massacre in Stohess District and the reveal of Colossal Titans within the Walls force the government and the Church to prepare more drastic measures to reclaim the Founder.
After another invasion of Wall Rose by the Beast Titan and the escape of the Colossal Titan Bertolt Hoover and the Armored Titan Reiner Braun, the government freezes all Survey Corps's activity and commands them to hand over Eren Yeager and Krista Lenz at once, without further elaboration. When the order is not followed, infighting between the Survey Corps and the Interior Military Police becomes direct, until an uprising between the military and the ruling aristocratic classes and King Reiss takes place. After Rod Reiss's last failed attempt to reclaim the Founder and bring "God" back end with his transformation in a gigantic Abnormal Titan and his death, military rule is estabilished within the Walls through Historia Reiss, ending the reign of Karl Fritz's paradise within the Walls. After the Battle of Shiganshina District and the death of Bertolt Hoover, the truth of the world is discovered from documents left by the Restorationist Grisha Yeager in his own basement. The truth and the concept of "nation" and the existence of things such as the ocean are disclosed to the public, which receive mixed reactions.
Four years later in 854, when the power of the Titans starts to become obsolete and humanity is finally surpassing the monsters in the food chain, the Tybur family intervenes to save Marley from the retaliation of its rival nations by revealing Karl Fritz's true personality and the real events of the Great Titan War, in order to unite the world against Paradis Island. Willy Tybur reminds the world about the threat the island represents to the world, by telling how the Warrior Unit was sent there to neutralize the threat of the Rumbling, only to be beaten back by the remnants of the Eldian Empire. And even the population of the Walls remained harmless thanks to Karl Fritz's actions, the Eldian military rebelled against Karl's ideology and destroyed it with their uprising, and now the Usurper of the Founder, Eren Yeager, who is not bound by Karl's vow renouncing war, threatens the peace. Willy convinces the world that its real enemy is neither Marley or any other country, and not even the "tamed devils" of the internment zones, but only Paradis Island and its Rumbling, who are the only reason of the world's status and problems. Using the island as a scapegoat for the world's conflicts and problems, Willy seeks to bring global stability with humanity by uniting all the nations and races against a common "evil foe", which gives Marley a chance to become a nation of heroes once more and not suffer the same fate as the Eldian Empire.
A century after the creation of the Walls, in the middle of a conflict between Paradis Island and the Global Alliance, Karl Reiss's vow renouncing war is finally nullified by Zeke Yeager, who enters the Paths of the Coordinate through his royal blood and physical contact with his half-brother Eren. Being free from the 145th King's ideology, Zeke has the soul of Ymir Fritz undo Karl's order after a long time of talking. However, this allows Eren to start the Rumbling, the very thing the world feared and that confirmed to them that the Eldians of Paradis were only "devils".
- In his kingdom's books and tales, the Founder Ymir Fritz is always referred as "Krista".
- It is unclear whether the first Pure Titans surrounding the Walls were made by Karl or one of his successors or not. But either all or almost all of them were created by Marley, who used the island as a penal colony to punish criminal Subjects of Ymir.