Special Report

20 Longest-Reigning Monarchs in History

Source: ubleipzig / Flickr

9. Ferdinand II
> Country: Sicily
> Time on the throne: 65 years, 90 days
> Start of reign: Oct. 6, 1759
> End of reign: Jan. 4, 1825

Ferdinand III of Sicily was also Ferdinand IV of Naples. He was deposed from the throne of Naples on two separate occasions once during the revolutionary war of 1799 and once by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806. After the fall of Napoleon, Ferdinand unified the two kingdoms of Sicily and Naples in 1816 and renamed himself Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.

8. Chan Imix Kʼawiil
> Country: Copán (modern day Honduras)
> Time on the throne: 67 years, 130 days
> Start of reign: Feb. 8, 628
> End of reign: June 18, 695

Little is known of Chan Imix Kʼawiil, who is believed to be the longest-reigning ruler of Copán, which is today’s Honduras. Not much is known about his activities in the first 26 years of his rule, but after that, there was a spike in the construction of monuments or inscribed stones called stelae, possibly indicating an assertion of power on his part.

7. Franz Joseph I
> Country: Austria and then Austria-Hungary
> Time on the throne: 67 years, 355 days
> Start of reign: Dec. 2, 1848
> End of reign: Nov. 21, 1916

Franz Joseph I, emperor of Austria-Hungary, was the face of European monarchy for most of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century. At the time of his ascension to power, his nation was the leader of German-speaking countries in Europe. That ended in 1866, when Prussia defeated Austria in the Seven Weeks’ War. As leader of a multi-ethnic empire, Franz Joseph begrudgingly allowed more autonomy for Hungary and other ethnic groups. But the empire was in decline and unprepared for war when the emperor’s heir apparent, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo, setting off the chain of events that led to World War I.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. Kʼinich Janaabʼ Pakal I
> Country: Palenque (modern day Maya city in southern Mexico)
> Time on the throne: 68 years, 33 days
> Start of reign: July 27, 615
> End of reign: Aug. 29, 683

Kʼinich Janaabʼ Pakal I was Mayan king of Palenque, where the modern-day state of Chiapas in Mexico is located. He was a prolific builder who constructed Palenque into one of the biggest cities in Mesoamerica, containing massive temples shaped like pyramids with elaborate carved inscriptions. The ruins of parts of the city are visible today, and much of it remains un-excavated in the surrounding jungle.

Franz Joseph I, emperor of Austria-Hungary, was the face of European monarchy for most of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century. At the time of his ascension to power, his nation was the leader of German-speaking countries in Europe. That ended in 1866, when Prussia defeated Austria in the Seven Weeks’ War. As leader of a multi-ethnic empire, Franz Joseph begrudgingly allowed more autonomy for Hungary and other ethnic groups. But the empire was in decline and unprepared for war when the emperor’s heir apparent, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo, setting off the chain of events that led to World War I.

Source: RAVINDRAN JOHN SMITH / iStock via Getty Images

5. Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II
> Country: Kedah (modern day Malaysia)
> Time on the throne: 68 years, 220 days
> Start of reign: Feb. 15, 1710
> End of reign: Sept. 23, 1778

Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II is known as the founder of Alor Setar, the state capital of Kedah, Malaysia. He was the longest-reigning sovereign monarch in Malaysian history. Much of his reign was spent fending off the influence of Burma and invasions from Siam (Thailand).

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

4. Johann II
> Country: Liechtenstein
> Time on the throne: 70 years, 91 days
> Start of reign: Nov. 12, 1858
> End of reign: Feb. 11, 1929

Johann II, also called Johann II the Good because of his benevolence, is known as the person who introduced Liechtenstein’s first constitution. In 1921, after World War I, he signed a new constitution, turning the principality into a constitutional monarchy with the people having political rights. Though he reigned for seven decades, he was very shy and was only rarely seen in public.

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