The 11 Longest Reigning Monarchs In All of History
Long Live The Queen!
Ivan the Terrible of Russia
One of the most famous Russian Czars, Ivan the Terrible basically founded the Czardom of Russia and put 16th century Russia on the map. His rule was characterized in true Czarist form with oppressive secret police that heavily surveilled anyone under the yoke of the autocrat, effectively earning him the title he's known to history as. Ivan the Terrible's reign lasted for just over fifty years, from 1533 to 1584, marking the beginning of a dynasty that would rule Russia until February Revolution of 1917.
William the Conqueror of Normandy
William the Conqueror is known for his conquest of England, forever changing the nature and culture of English kingship. Many did not take his conquest well, calling him William the Bastard. Descended from the viking Lord of Normandy Rollo, William inherited his native Normandy in 1035 becoming Duke. It was during this time that the king of England named him his heir due to his lack of child and William's ties to the royal family. At the last minute, the king named a new heir, but William was having none of it. He amassed an army, sailed it across the channel and killed this new king at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He was crowned on Christmas Day as the new king of England, reigning for 52 years (dukedom included) until his death in 1087.
Cosimo III de' Medici of Tuscany
Cosimo III was the second to last Medici to be the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The position was inherited through his father. Cosimo's reign may have lasted longer than any other Medicis, but it was unfortunately riddled with internal strife. He enforced tariffs and religious laws that targeted Jews and non-Catholics, which effectively tanked both the treasury of Tuscany as well as any semblance of European prestige it had left. His rule lasted from 1670 to 1723, marrying a cousin of Louis XIV of France to help secure lasting bonds with the most powerful force on the European continent. While his son would undo much of his disastrous policies, Cosimo III's reign would be the nail in the coffin for Medici preeminence in the political affairs of Europe, as the line soon passed to the House of Lorraine.
Al-Mustansir Billah of Egypt
Al-Mustansir Billah of Egypt was the single longest ruling Muslim ruler in history as the eighth Caliph of the Fatimid Caliphate. His reign lasted from 1036 to 1094, a total of 57 years. While one might hope that his rule was a time of peace and prosperity, it was unfortunately a time of uncertainty and famine. It is even said that the once brimming stables were reduced to three thin horses. Even then, it is said that one of the Caliph's horses collapsed underneath him while on parade through his capital city. Even the palace riches were sold off to creditors in order to pay off the debts of the caliphate. Not all long reigns are prosperous...
Pedro II of Brazil
Pedro II was the last ruler of the Empire of Brazil, ruling from 1831 to 1889. A total of 58 years. His nickname was Pedro the Magnanimous. You read that right; Brazil was once an empire. Pedro's rule is remembered very highly in Brazilian history. He is perhaps most remembered for his support and subsequent enforcement of the abolition of slavery in the 1880s. In perhaps one of the most unneeded revolutions of all time, after abolition, wealthy coffee farmers desired a change of government to a dictatorial republic. Despite very little popular support for this due to the fact that the monarchy was associated with economic prosperity and freedom, a coup d'etat was executed and successfully ousted the popular emperor from power. He is noted as saying "It if is so, it will be my retirement. I have worked too hard and I am tires. I will go and rest then."
Emperor Hirohito of Japan
The office of Emperor in Japan is a position that is well over a thousand years old. It even survived the 20th century! Emperor Hirohito was the ruler of Japan from 1926 to 1989. During his 62 year reign, he presided over the atrocities of the second world war as well as the Japanese aggression that occurred before its start against neighboring nations like China and Korea. After the war, General Douglas McArthur insisted he retain the imperial throne due to his belief that the Emperor was a symbol of Japanese solidarity and continuity. An important symbol in the postwar period, which ultimately helped boost morale which intern contributed to the economic miracle of Japan. By the 1960s, they were and continue to be a leading economic power.
Elizabeth II of England
The current monarch of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland is Elizabeth II.She came to the throne in 1952, after the death of her father, King George VI. Elizabeth II has since outlasted the longest reigning monarch of England, Queen Victoria. She is perhaps the most popular queen in English history and has presided over the largest period of economic and technological growth in British history. She is one of the last remaining monarchs in England, and the only one to have never been deposed at any point since the mid-1600s. While we can't say what her legacy will be in the future, the reign of Queen Elizabeth II has so far reached over 64 years and counting!
Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary
Franz Joseph II was the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia. His reign lasted sixty-seven years, from 1848 to 1916.Being a European monarch in the late 19th century was no easy job. The forces set in motion by the French Revolution were in full swing. Thus the emperor's rule was pronounced with resisting constitutionalism and trying to retain his absolute power, which ultimately failed since we wanted to stay in power as long as possible. Being the ruler of a multi-ethnic empire in the age of nationalism was an especially difficult job. In fact, he was the penultimate emperor of Austria-Hungary, as the monarchy and empire would not survive the first world war.
Louis XIV of France
One of the greatest monarchs of European history, King Louis XIV of France is the ne plus ultra or ultimate example of absolute kingship. The Sun King, as he was posthumously known, is remembered for leading the French monarchy through their most powerful and influential period in history. It was during his reign that he augmented French hegemony on the European continent, but his real victory was against his own aristocracy. He successfully created a system which revolved wholly around him, weakening the power base of the old nobles making them be in Paris for ceremonial purposes, in addition to banning private armies. He would serve as an example of absolute rule across time and space; a paradigm of power sought after by all European monarchs who came after him.
Bernhard VII of Lippe
Bernhard VII, Lord of Lippe is the single longest ruling monarch in European history. His reign lasted for 81 years and 234 days.He inherited Lippe from his father Lord Simon IV before he even celebrated his first birthday. He was nicknamed "the Bellicose" (aggressive or willing to fight) because of the plethora of blood feuds he seemed to surround himself with. He made some terrible blunders, for example, unwittingly joining an alliance against his great-uncle the Archbishop Dietrich II of Cologne, which resulted in the latter sending in a Bohemian army to rampage and pillage the countryside of Lippe. On another occasion, he lost half of the city of Lippstadt to Duke Adolph I of Cleves-Mark, to whom he mortgaged it. Stand up fellow, this one...
Sobhuza II of Swaziland
The single longest documented reigning monarch of all time is Sobhuza II of Swaziland! His rule lasted 82 years and 254 days, from December 1899 to August 1982. When he was four months old, his father King Ngwane V, suddenly died while performing a kingship ritual called the Incwala. While still under British rule, he was known as the Chief Paramount, but when granted independence in 1968, he was officially recognized as king. He was one of the few African rulers in the 20th century who was able to find a balance between tribal custom and social and economic change for Swaziland. His kingdom prospered greatly under his leadership. On top of securing independence and self-rule, Sobhuza successfully brought many natural resources under indigenous control, which lead to an economic boom. He would serve as a role model of African leadership, as well as the possibilities of independence in a post-colonial era.
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