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Junior Taamas
, Nigeria.
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It’s often been said, “Heavy is the head
who wears the crown.” Although
paraphrasing Shakespeare isn’t terribly
difficult, the act of ruling is — as well as
wrought with plenty of drama, peril, and
sometimes even violent death — just ask
The Bard . Nonetheless, throughout the
course of history, some leaders have
managed to defy longevity and stay in
power ranging from the iron-fisted to
soft-gloved benevolence.

Please note the following list attempts to
present a verifiable account of rulers
whose reigns not only rival the lifespan
of an elephant but represent clearly
defined borders and rule as a singular
entity. As a result, power-sharing,
microscopic medieval fiefdoms, and head
honchos from ancient civilizations or
religious mythologies are disqualified.
Sorry. Rules are rules.

10. Hirohito: 62 years, 13 days (Japan)


The reign of Emperor Hirohito
technically began in 1925 and lasted 63
years. However, he probably deserves
extra credit for having served five years
as Regent of Japan for his ailing father,
Emperor Taish?. This interim period also
foreshadowed Hirohito’s turbulent rule
and the growth of his country’s military
might. Ironically, his ascension to the
throne was designated as the Showa era,
meaning “Enlightened Peace.”

Born in Tokyo on April 29, 1901,
Hirohito would become the longest-
reigning (and longest-living) monarch in
Japan’s history. Although empowered
with complete authority, he typically
stayed clear of politics and allowed his
generals to dictate an increasingly
aggressive, foreign policy. But it would
be his name, above all other Japanese
officials, that is best known for bridging
an alliance with Nazi Germany and
Fascist Italy in World War II to join the
Axis Powers. The decision proved
disastrous.
In the wake of Japan’s surrender to Allied
Forces in August of 1945, Hirohito was
allowed to stay office as a figurehead.

His exalted presence would allow Japan
to recover as a nation and emerge as one
of the richest countries in the world and
manufacture the car that most likely now
sits in your driveway. It’s also worth
noting that most military historians and
aviation experts consider the Mitsubishi
Zero to have been the most capable
carrier-based fighter of World War II,
combining adroit maneuverability and
long-range, fuel efficiency. Just
something to think about the next time
when you’re darting through traffic like a
kamikaze while late for work.

9. James I: 62 years, 319 days (Aragon)


James I of Aragon differs from all other
entries on this list as a leader who also
reigned supreme on the battlefield.
While under the watchful eye of the
Knights Templar, James began his warrior
training at the age of six, following the
death of his father, King Peter II.
Known as ‘The Conqueror,” the Iberian
monarch would add the Balearic Islands
and the vital port of Valencia to his
realm during the Aragonese Crusades
against Muslim forces. He later penned
Libra dels Fets (“Book of Deeds”), the
first known autobiography by a Christian
king. Although essentially a narrative
detailing his military conquests, the
extremely pious James did credit God for
helping him annihilate as many infidels
as possible in Spanish territory.

The handsome victor also conquered
scores of female hearts as a “hombre de
fembres” (“Lady’s Man”) in spite of his
dearly held Catholic values as a married
man. One particularly sordid affair
involved James accusing his wife, Teresa
Gil de Vidaure, of being a leper so that
he could annul the marriage and marry
his mistress, who was also his cousin!
Not surprisingly, even the Pope couldn’t
help him with that Hail Mary.

8. Victoria I: 63 years, 216 day (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India)


Queen Victoria easily ranks as one of
Britain’s most well-known and important
historical figures, whose far-reaching
impact is simply beyond measure.
During her 63 years as Queen, the
Victorian era saw rapid advancements in
technology, medicine, and science.

Furthermore, she would eventually
preside over the biggest empire in
history — roughly half the known world.
Alexandrina Victoria was born on May
24, 1819 at Kensington Palace to an
English father, Edward, Duke of Kent, and
a German mother, Princess Maria Louisa
Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfald. In 1837
at the age of 18, she became Queen
Victoria and three years later married
her first cousin Albert of Saxe-Coburg-
Gotha. Their brief but passionate
marriage helped preserve a long-
standing practice of mixing royal blood,
thus strengthening European allegiances
while attempting to create a regal-
looking lineage. Let’s just say results
were mixed.

The power couple produced nine
children and a whopping 42
grandchildren. As a result, the large
brood also married in royal families,
giving Victoria the well-earned nickname,
“Grandmother of Europe.” Alternatively,
she’s been called “The Famine Queen” for
egregious neglect of Ireland under her
watch in the mid 19th century.

7. Ferdinand I: 65 years, 90 days (Sicily… well, sorta)


Of all the hopelessly complicated and
absurd monarchial mayhem that defined
Europe in the 18th century, Ferdinand I
was in a league of his own. He inherited
the separate Kingdoms of Naples and
Sicily when his father, Charles III
ascended to the Spanish throne which
required him to abdicate his titles in
Spanish-ruled southern Italy, making his
eight-year-old son the King of the Two
Sicilies. Huh? Hold on — it gets even
more ridiculous. The Sicilian also styled
as Ferdinand III, Ferdinand IV during a
king-sized span that lasted for over 65
years and involved a colorful cast of
characters, including Napoleon, Lord
Nelson and a guy named Bernie (more
on that later).

Ferdinand officially began his reign in
1759, but while waiting for puberty to
kick in, governmental duties were placed
in the hands of a conniving statesman
named Bernardo Tanucci. The ambitious
Tuscan, who fancied himself as an
enlightened man-who-should-be-king,
willfully neglected his young charge and
instead encouraged him to embrace the
folly of youth with reckless abandon.
Suffice to say, weekends at Bernie’s
must’ve been CRAZEE.

Ferdinand later married Archduchess
Maria Carolina , the older sister of the
doomed French queen, Marie Antoinette ,
and daughter of the uber-powerful Holy
Roman Empress, Maria Theresa. After
consummating his loveless, arranged
royal union, the newlywed allegedly
declared, “She sleeps like the dead and
sweats like a pig.” Way to keep it classy,
Ferdi.
Carolina, like Tannucci, had her power-
hungry agenda, and took charge of her
feckless husbands’ dominions despite
constant warring, changing borders and
good ol’ fashioned back-stabbing. In the
end, however, Ferdinand outlived most
of his rivals, and upon his death in 1825,
handed off the troubled empire to his
son, Francis I.

6. Elizabeth II: 67 years and counting (United Kingdom of Great Britain and other Commonwealth realms and territories)


Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the
British throne in 1952 following the
death of her father, George VI . She is
currently the longest-reigning monarch
in the world and despite her advanced
age of 93, the beloved monarch is still
going strong.

Elizabeth was born in London on April
21, 1926. She became heir presumptive
in 1936 and later served in the Auxiliary
Territorial Service during WWII. In 1947,
she married Prince Philip, Duke of
Edinburgh, with whom she has four
children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne,
Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of
York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

In 2017, she became the first British
monarch to reach the Sapphire Jubilee
milestone of 65 years. Additionally, she
is the world’s longest-serving female
head of state in history. During this time,
she has weathered several royal
scandals, including the alleged multiple
sexual exploits of her sister, Princess
Margaret, and the highly sensationalized
death of her former daughter-in-law
Diana, Princess of Wales.

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
English
100Level, Nigeria.
5. Franz Joseph I: 67 years, 355 days (Austrian Empire)


As we mentioned, the weight of the
crown can be a burdensome curse. To
wit: Franz Joseph , who in the span of
nearly 68 years endured several
assassination attempts, the murder of his
wife, the suicide of his son, the
execution of his brother, and the
assassination of his nephew Franz
Ferdinand — an event that would
ultimately spark World War I .

Franz Josef was an old school member of
the House of Hapsburg, who became
Emperor of Austria in 1848. He also held
a slew of other royal titles within the
Austro-Hungarian Empire, including
service as the Grand Prince of
Transylvania — an appointment that
undoubtedly made him a revered Goth
icon.

Despite witnessing the decay of the
Hapsburg dynasty and experiencing
innumerable personal losses, he enjoyed
widespread popularity throughout his
kingdom before dying of natural causes
in 1916.

4. Johann II: 70 years, 91 days (Liechtenstein)


The tiny, landlocked principality of
Liechtenstein can be challenging to find
on most maps. At 62 square miles, the
German-speaking, alpine European
nation is roughly a third the size of
Albuquerque, New Mexico. However,
Liechtenstein boasts one of the highest
GDP rates per person in the world — and
owes much of its success to a man
simply known as Johann der Gute (“John
the Good”).

Johann II took charge in 1858 after
turning 18. Six years later, he oversaw
Liechtenstein’s first constitution, and
later further solidified its autonomy by
withdrawing from the powerful German
Confederation. In another bold move,
Johann abolished the country’s army and
instead focused on building a strong
financial sector that would emerge as a
renowned tax haven.

During his long tenure, he generously
supported the arts and sciences, but
wasn’t exactly a people person and
avoided social events and public
appearances. Unlike other royals who
took advantage of their elevated
standing, the prince never married or
sired any regal offspring, and ruled until
his death at the age of 88 in 1929.

3. Bhumibol Adulyadej: 70 Years, 126 days (Thailand)


Serving as King for seven decades not
only illustrates a steady work history but
is usually the most impressive
achievement on a person’s resume. Not
for Bhumibol Adulyadej (pronounced just
as it looks: poo-mee-pon ah-dun-yaa-
det). In addition to his well-worn crown,
Thailand’s longest-serving ruler and the
ninth Rama of the Chakri Dynasty, led a
truly remarkable life as an accomplished
musician, painter, sailor, author, and
inventor. He also managed to quell
numerous domestic uprisings as well as
deftly avoid conflicts in neighboring war-
torn Southeast Asia. In short, the man
stayed busy.

As the youngest son of Harvard-educated
Prince Mahidol, Bhumibol was born in
Cambridge, Massachusetts on December
5, 1927 (and the only monarch ever
born on U.S. soil). He became ruler in
1946 after his brother, King Rama VIII,
died of a gunshot wound in mysterious
circumstances.

For the next 70 years, Bhumibol stayed
on the job and earned a reputation
characterized as both Machiavellian and
Buddha-esque — and in his spare time
famously jammed with jazz legends
Benny Goodman , Stan Getz, and Lionel
Hampton. Top that, Daddy-O.

2. Louis XIV: 72 Years, 110 days (France)


For any aspiring monarch wanting to
leave his or her mark on the world, King
Louis XIV would be a damn good role
model. His impressive, decadence-
dripping, 72-year reign defined absolute
power and established France as both an
economic and military world power.

Furthermore, the “Le Roi Soleil” (“The
Sun King”), dressed like a rock star, built
the ultimate crib at Versailles and
compiled a massive fortune, setting the
standard by which all other crowned
heads are measured.

Hailing from the House of Bourbon
(once again, tres rock star), Louis XIV
ascended to the throne via the time
honored custom of the divine right of
kings — a system that actually worked
quite well back in the day. Among his
many accomplishments and vast
patronage to the arts, his greatest
achievement involved the absolute
empowerment of a single entity: himself.

True to his impressive sobriquet, all
facets of French life revolved around the
King. His heavy-handed governance
allowed him to maintain control through
an unquestioned code that kept
competing figureheads in the church,
aristocracy, and military all at bay.
Whether apocryphal or not, his well-
known quote “L’état, c’est moi” (”I am
the state”) was a drop- the-mic decree
for the ages. Or to put it another way, if
the gilded, sequined shoe fits, wear it.

1. Sobhuza II: 82 Years, 254 days (Swaziland)


While most octogenarians are fortunate
to have merely lived this long, King
Sobhuza II spent nearly his entire eight
decades sitting firmly on the throne. At a
staggering 82 years, his reign makes him
the longest-ruling monarch ever.

Congratulations, noble majesty.

Sobhuza was born on July 22, 1899, in
southern Africa. He inherited the crown
at the tender age of 4 months old after
his father, King Ngwane V, died while
performing a celebratory dancing ritual
called the Incwala (Caution: do NOT try
this at home). Afterward, according to a
New York Times report, “a tribal council
headed by his father’s favorite wife
chose the young Sobhuza as his
successor from among a host of other
sons.”

The African King spent his childhood
studying abroad in England, receiving a
formal education before retiring home.

Although Swaziland (now eSwatini)
remained under British rule before
gaining its independence in 1968,
Sobhuza ruled as the de facto leader of
his people and helped usher in a post-
colonial era of prosperity. Also, for the
record, he had a total 70 wives and
fathered 210 children. Hail to the King.

www.toptenz.net/historys-10-longest-reigning-monarchs.php

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