Special Report

The 20 Longest-Reigning Monarchs in World History

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

15. Itzamnaaj Bahlam III
> Country: Yaxchilan (modern day Chiapas, Mexico)
> Time on the throne: 60 years, 235 days
> Start of reign: Oct. 23, 681
> End of reign: June 15, 742

Itzamnaaj Bahlam III was a Mayan king of the city of Yaxchilan in pre-Columbian Mexico. He assumed power in 681 and ruled for more than 60 years. He died at age 94 or 95. He was still leading troops into battle in his 80s. He is known for commissioning the construction of buildings that can still be seen at Yaxchilan.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

14. Honoré III
> Country: Monaco
> Time on the throne: 61 years, 21 days
> Start of reign: Dec. 29, 1731
> End of reign: Jan. 19, 1793

Honoré III came to the throne at 13 years of age after his father, Prince Jacques I, abdicated. During his reign, he improved trade and undertook reforms such as repealing the law that the sovereign would receive the inheritance of anyone who died on his property. Honoré III lost his title when the French republic, in the wake of the revolution, ended royal titles and absorbed Monaco.

Source: 101561334@N08 / Flickr

13. Kangxi
> Country: China
> Time on the throne: 61 years, 318 days
> Start of reign: Feb. 5, 1661
> End of reign: Dec. 20, 1722

Kangxi was a Manchu dynasty emperor who expanded the Chinese empire north of the Amur River and Outer Mongolia and imposed Chinese hegemony over Tibet. He also consolidated power by winning the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, demonstrating strategic skills. Kangxi was an outward-looking monarch who opened four ports to foreign trade and allowed the introduction of Western education and arts and Roman Catholicism in China.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

12. Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito)
> Country: Japan
> Time on the throne: 62 years, 13 days
> Start of reign: Dec. 25, 1926
> End of reign: Jan. 7, 1989

Hirohito was the longest-reigning Japanese emperor and the head of state during World War II. He was at first perceived to be a powerless constitutional monarch who played no role in Japan’s wartime ambitions, but access to Japanese documents in recent years has convinced some historians that he was involved in wartime decisions. The emperor was revered as an almost god-like figure in Japan, and when he broadcast Japan’s surrender on the radio, it was the first time the nation had heard him speak.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

11. James I
> Country: Aragon
> Time on the throne: 62 years, 319 days
> Start of reign: Sept. 12, 1213
> End of reign: July 27, 1276

James I was a courageous soldier and was known for his leadership qualities that included helming a crusade to the Middle East. In 1227, he conquered the Balearic Islands, an archipelago off the eastern coast of Spain. This would be crucial to securing future Spanish trade interests as well as defending the Spanish coast.

Source: Roger Fenton / Hulton Royals Collection via Getty Images

10. Victoria
> Country: United Kingdom
> Time on the throne: 63 years, 216 days
> Start of reign: June 20, 1837
> End of reign: Jan. 22, 1901

Victoria was Great Britain’s longest-serving sovereign until Queen Elizabeth II. It was during her reign that the British Empire reached its zenith, with colonies and possessions on every continent on Earth. Great Britain oversaw the Pax Britannica, a period without major wars in which its navy dominated the seas. Indeed, such was the influence of her reign that her name is affixed to a particular era in world history.

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