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|This is the duty that the royal line, the Reiss family, is charged with.|
|— Rod reflects on the Titan succession rituals|
The Reiss family (レイス家 Reisu-ke?) is an influential and wealthy family living inside the Walls, descended from the First King, Karl Fritz. They masqueraded as a minor noble family living inside northern Wall Sheena, but they are in truth the true royal family inside the Walls that branched off from the original royal familiy. They were in possession of the Founding Titan until it got stolen by Grisha Yeager. Currently, Historia Reiss, the illegitimate daughter of the late Rod Reiss, is the ruling queen within the Walls and the last known living member of the familiy.
In ancient times the royal family was known as the Fritz family. The family was descended from Ymir Fritz, the first of all Titans, whose descendants founded the nation of Eldia. However, towards the end of the Great Titan War, Eldia lost most of its territory to Marley, save for the island of Paradis. King Karl Fritz moved Eldia's capital to Paradis and, with power of the Founding Titan, constructed the Walls using countless Colossus Titans. After he gathered as many Eldians as he could on the island, he wiped their memories of the outside world, making the people believe they were the last of humanity in a world overrun by the Titans.
However, this brainwashing did not affect those of minority bloodlines that were not Subjects of Ymir, such as the Ackerman family and the Asian clan. Those who agreed to the wishes of the First King of the Walls were given the status of nobility. The Ackerman family and the Asian clan, however, disagreed, and were hunted to near extinction for this. To protect his subjects, the First King sent an ultimatum to the Marleyan government, stating that if they were to interfere with his vision of peace, the millions of slumbering Colossus Titans would be unleashed upon the Earth. After this, the royal family that moved to the island cast aside the Fritz name and renamed themselves the Reiss family. Some members of the royal family decided to stay on the continent now controlled by Marley, however.
Some time later, King Reiss gave the Founding Titan to a successor, dying in the process. The Reiss family ruled the Walls in secret for the next 100 years by masquerading as a minor noble family living inside of Wall Sheena near the Orvud District. The King of the Walls would be their figurehead.
A special ritual was conducted every generation in which the Founding Titan was passed down from one family member to another. The current holder of the Founding Titan would be chained in the cavern beneath the village chapel near the Reiss family estate. Meanwhile, the successor to the Founding Titan, would inject themselves with a serum and transform into a mindless Titan to devour their predecessor. This would give them the power of the Founding Titan and the lost memories of humanity inside the Walls. However, this would also give them the ideology of the First King and force them to keep humanity inside the Walls under the Titans' rule, even if they previously had a desire to free them.
They would never reveal the reason for this, even to their own friends and families. While inheritors of the Founding Titan retained much of their original personality, whenever using the Founding Titan's power or falling under the will of the First King, it would become visible in the user's eyes by a darkening of their irises. This was apparent in Uri, Frieda, and Mr. Reiss. The Reiss who currently possessed the Founding Titan would be the true king or queen of the Walls for however long they possessed it, as shown by Uri and Frieda.
One of the many Founding Titans was Mr. Reiss, the father of Rod and Uri. The brothers begged him to exterminate the Titans, but he always refused, so much so that he locked Rod behind bars for his attempts. When it came time to pass his position to a son, Uri volunteered and asked Rod to pray. After the procedure, Uri had inherited the First King's ideology, and wished to build a paradise for mankind inside the Walls. One of the ways he did this was by stopping the persecution of the Ackerman family after a failed assassination attempt by Kenny Ackerman, who later became a Reiss bodyguard and Uri's closest friend.
Years later, Rod married and had five children with his wife; Urklyn, Frieda, Dirk, Florian, and Reiss. Rod also conceived a sixth child, Historia, with Alma, his mistress and confidant; one of the Reiss family maids.
Alma gave birth to Historia on her parents' farm, which was on land controlled by the Reiss family. Historia had an isolated upbringing and was raised to believe she was an unfortunate and unwelcome mistake. She had no friends and could never leave the farm. Her mother was distant to her, only speaking to her twice, and both times wished she did not exist. Her grandparents rarely spoke with her either. This led Historia to developing a martyr complex. She wished to die in a way in which everybody would remember her fondly and not hate her for existing.
However, Historia was not as alone as she believed. Her half-sister Frieda would visit her in secret and taught her to read. Frieda encouraged her to be a lady, like the girl in Historia's book; a kind girl who was always thinking of others. After her visits, Frieda would wipe Historia's memory to protect her. For a while, Historia would only recall those memories in dreams and forgot them when she awoke.
When Frieda was fifteen, she inherited the Founding Titan by devouring Uri in the Reiss family's succession ritual. She was well loved on her family's estate and would be known to go out to the fields to thank the farmers for their work. However, after becoming the true queen inside the Walls, she began to experience bouts of mania followed by depression, such when she discovered that Historia had tried to leave her family's farm by crossing the fence.
Days after the fall of Wall Maria in 845, the Reiss family went to the Reiss Chapel to pray. However, Grisha Yeager, a man with the power of the Attack Titan who lost his wife to the attack on Shiganshina, met them there. He begged Frieda to save the people inside the Walls from the Titans, but Frieda refused. He then launched an attack on the Reiss family, attempting to exterminate the whole family. He fought Frieda as a Titan to the death, but Frieda was defeated due to not being able to control the Founding Titan to its full potential and was eaten by Grisha through the neck. Grisha then violently killed Rod's wife and the Reiss children and destroyed the Reiss Chapel, with the only survivors of the Reiss family being Rod, who fled blindly, and Historia, who was not present. Grisha then found his son Eren in a refugee camp and injected him with a Titan serum and allowed himself to be eaten. Since Eren was not a Reiss, he would not be influenced by or fall under the First King's ideology; and because of Eren's desire to slaughter the Titans for keeping humanity caged and for killing his mother, he could free the people inside the Walls and do what none of the Reiss members would. With Frieda's death, Rod succeeded her as the true king. To cover up Grisha's attack, he blamed the Reiss chapel's destruction and his family's death on bandits and had the chapel reconstructed.
Rod attempted to go to the farm and get Historia, possibly in order to bring her up as heir since his true-born children were all deceased. As Kenny describes to Historia, the only reason Rod sought her out was only because he needed her blood. However, the First Brigade of the Military Police beat them there, attempted to kill Historia and Alma, with Kenny slitting Alma's throat, being sent by Rod's congress. This was because they viewed Historia, an illegitimate child, as unfit to bear the Reiss name. Rod decided on a way to keep Historia alive; she would give up her old identity, forsake any claims, and join the Survey Corps, hopefully dying by a Titan. This was seen as an acceptable alternative, and Historia was given the identity of Krista Lenz and sent to live in a refugee camp until she was old enough to enlist in the Military. In the Military, Rod sent the Church of the Walls to monitor her. Under her Krista persona, Historia was the lady Frieda wanted her to be, but also constantly sought to die in a way that would be considered a martyr. She graduated the 10th in the 104th Cadet Corps, as Ymir, her best friend, slacked off the last several weeks of training to give Historia the 10th spot so she could join the Military Police. Historia ended up joining the Survey Corps with Ymir, in a squad under the command of Nanaba, due to her martyr complex.
The Reiss Family, like the Fritz family, is valuable to the Marley government. Ymir, who fears being killed by them if ever captured, believes Historia is valuable enough to them in order to earn a pardon. She would also not be harmed if handed over. Indeed, Reiner Braun said that his goals align somewhat with Ymir's because he wants to protect her too, as part of his mission is to capture the Founding Titan. However, according to Eren Kruger, he tells Grisha Yeager it was wise of his royal blooded wife, Dina, to hide her royal heritage as if she was ever taken by the Marley government, she would likely be used by them to bear children to be used as part of Marley's Warrior program and inherit the Founding Titan, for only one of royal blood may use it.
Shortly afterward, Historia is captured by Ymir, who has allied with Reiner and his partner Bertolt Hoover to capture her and Eren in exchange for a pardon, due to eating their friend and mission partner, Marcel when she was stuck in Titan form. Historia agrees to go with them if it means helping Ymir, but Reiner and Bertolt are defeated by the combined efforts of the Survey Corps and Eren's newly awakened power to control nearby Titans. Ymir allies with the two shifters and the trio escape. Ymir leaves Historia behind for her own safety and a devastated Historia reluctantly returns with the Survey Corps.
In the year 850, Levi and Hange Zoë interrogate Djel Sannes, a member of the Interior Military Police, who reveals that the Reiss family is the true royal family, meaning that Historia has a chance to claim the throne. Erwin Smith plans to overthrow the current monarchy and install Historia as queen.
Historia initially refuses, but after being pressured by Levi, she agrees. However, in an attempt to track down her father Rod Reiss, Historia and Eren are captured by Kenny Ackerman and taken beneath the village chapel to the chamber where the Reiss family passes on the Founding Titan as part of their succession ritual. Rod attempts to persuade Historia to transform and devour Eren, saying that she would be able to meet her sister Frieda again and be strong enough to kill all the Titans.Historia was about to, until she learned that all the Founding Titans fell under the First King's ideology, her sister included. Historia realized that the Founding Titan destroyed Frieda's humanity and that Rod was only using her to regain the Reiss family's power. She refused to allow this, so she smashed the Titan serum, attacked Rod and attempted to free Eren and escape. Rod was shocked, lightly sobbing, and crawled on the floor and licked the evaporating Titan serum, deciding to devour Eren himself. He called to his father, his brother, and his daughter, saying that he was going to be with them again. This, however, transformed him into the largest Titan in existence, a 120 meter Abnormal Titan and destroyed the Reiss Chapel. With Rod being a mindless Titan, he began to crawl towards Orvud District. The Garrison and Survey Corps led an attack on him, using explosives to blow his hands and head off. They then attempted to cut the nape of his actual body before he could regenerate, with Historia herself delivering the final blow. Historia became popular with the people for saving Orvud and for her past.
After this, Historia took the throne as queen. She, however, let the Scouts do much of the ruling for her, preferring to run an orphanage ranch in Wall Sheena. The orphanage is composed of all of the children orphaned in the Walls by the Titans and in the Underground Districts, with the money confiscated from the noble families. She does, however, sanction the operation to reclaim Wall Maria and gives medals to the surviving members of the Survey Corps.
- The Reiss family is one of four notable bloodlines mentioned in the manga, the other three being the Ackerman family, the Asian clan, and the Tybur family. The Fritz family is also of great importance, though their bloodline is identical to the Reiss family.