History Wednesday: Three Short Reigns

A while back I wrote about the shortest presidency in history. Today I was going to write about one of the shortest monarchies in history, but I’m afraid I have to wuss out a bit. See, I’m sick as a dog. Frankly I’m not entirely sure why I’m even trying to write today in the first place.


Perhaps as an attempt to take my mind off things.

So in lieu of the History Wednesday post you’ve come to expect, bear with me as I share quick stories of three of the shortest-reigning monarchs of all time.

King Dipendra of Nepal

Dipendra “reigned” over this small Himalayan state for three days in June 2001. I use quotes because Dipendra spent his entire reign in a coma.

Why’s that you ask? Well, if you believe the official account it’s because Dipendra killed most of his family one night at dinner before turning the gun on himself. However, the events leading up to the massacre remain highly controversial in Nepal. In any event, after Dipendra died shortly after the attack he was succeeded by his uncle, Gyanendra, who just happened to be out of town the night of the massacre. Gyanendra was deposed in 2008 when Nepal did away with its monarchy entirely.


Now he’s just “Mr. Shah.”
Image credit: Krish Dulal

Sultan Khalid bin Barghash of Zanzibar

Today Zanzibar is a part of Tanzania, but in 1896 it was an independent sultanate. I use the term “independent” loosely, as at the time the British had effective veto power over this island nation.


Pictured: veto power.

On 25 August 1896, Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini died suddenly and unexpectedly. The throne was seized by his cousin Khalid, who incidentally was suspected of poisoning the sultan. The British objected to this arrangement, and expressed their dissatisfaction by shelling the ever-loving crap out of the sultan’s palace for 38 minutes. Having just lost one of the shortest and most ridiculous “wars” in history, Khalid got the message and abdicated just three days into his rule.

King Luis II of Portugal

OK, technically Luis was never King of Portugal, but that was mainly because he didn’t live long enough to properly claim the throne.


And not because of his obvious Slytherin connections.
Image credit: Lumastan

Luis was the oldest son of King Carlos I and as such served as the Portuguese heir apparent for most of his life. Although still quite young, by 1907 Luis was an active participant in affairs of state. He was poised to become a major figure both in Portugal and in Europe in general.

However, that ended on 1 February 1908 when two assassins targeted the royal family upon their return to Lisbon from a month-long retreat. King Carlos was killed instantly in the attack. Luis was critically injured but managed to outlive his father for about 20 minutes. During that time it could be argued Luis was Portugal’s head of state, but of course there was never an opportunity for the government to confirm that.

Instead the Portuguese crown was passed to Luis’ younger brother, Manuel, who survived the assassination. Unfortunately for the royalists, Manuel proved to be an unpopular leader and the Portuguese monarchy was abolished in 1910.


No one called him “Mr. Shah” though.

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