There have been many monarchs throughout history, most of whom died young due to disease, insurrection, or other causes. However, some monarchs lived extremely long lives and continued to rule their kingdoms. Here are ten of the oldest monarchs who have remained on the throne despite their age.
Related: 10 Unlikely People Who Became Monarchs
10 Pepi II
Pepi II was the fifth pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty of Egypt, ruling from around 2325 BC. When Pepi II was named pharaoh, he was actually only four years old.
Due to the antiquity of Pepi II’s reign, little is known about his time as king. What we do know is that he presided over the end of the Old Kingdom, the time period when the Great Pyramids of Giza were built. In fact, at the end of Pepi II’s reign, the Old Kingdom finally collapsed, giving way to the chaotic First Intermediate Period.
Despite knowing little about what Pepi II did during his reign, we do know that he ruled Egypt for a long period of time. Pepi II stayed in power for 94 years, only relinquishing the throne when he died at a whopping 98 years of age.
9 Min Hti, King of Arakan
One of the longest reigning monarchs, and the oldest at the time of his death, is actually a monarch we know little about. The king in question is a man named Min Hti, who was king of Arakan, or present-day Myanmar, from about 1279 to about 1374.
Min Hti was born sometime in the early 1270s, which would have given him around ten years of age when he ascended the throne. The king’s reign was largely characterized by warfare and military conquests. His kingdom was eventually succeeded by his son, though not before it fell into a bit of turmoil.
Although the exact length of his reign is disputed, it is estimated that Min Hti ruled for around 95 years. That would have made him between 98 and 100 years old at the time of his death.
8 Isabel II
Elizabeth II is one of the most recent monarchs to die and was Queen of the United Kingdom from 1952 to 2022.
Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926, the daughter of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and Prince Albert. Curiously, Elizabeth was not in line to succeed to the throne until her uncle abdicated, leaving her father as king and Elizabeth as her heir apparent.
When Elizabeth’s father died in 1952, he left her as the new queen. Elizabeth’s reign was largely marked by her efforts to modernize the monarchy and create a royal family that was more relevant to popular culture.
Elizabeth reigned for a total of 70 years and died at the age of 96. That makes her one of the oldest monarchs she has ever ruled, despite her age!
7 Ramses II
Another famous Egyptian king who ruled until his last years was Ramses II. Ramesses II was the third king of the 19th Dynasty in Egypt, ascending the throne in 1279 BC. Like many other monarchs, Ramses II entered the monarchy at a young age.
At just thirteen years old, Ramses II found himself in charge of governing a country that had gone into decline thanks to his predecessors, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. Still, that didn’t stop Ramses. He went on to lead Egypt into a time of prosperity, building several great temples that still exist today.
In addition to building temples, he also spent the early part of his reign performing military feats and improving relations with neighboring nations. All this led the Egyptians to give him the nickname of Ramses the Great, thanks to the good he did for Egypt.
Although we cannot be sure of his age at the time of his death, historians estimate that Ramesses II was around 90 years old when he expired. That makes him one of the oldest monarchs that ever lived!
6 Chan Imix Kʼawiil
Chan Imix K’awaiil is not a king most of us have heard of. This Mayan king ruled Copán, Honduras, from about AD 628 to 695. C. It is said that he was only 23 years old when he assumed the throne, which was only 16 days after the death of his predecessor.
Little is known about the early part of his reign. Even so, archaeologists attribute to him the construction of six impressive stone reliefs that were distributed throughout the Copán Valley. In addition to this, he also built a new temple and various other structures in the area.
Chan Imix K’awaiil’s reign lasted 67 years, and he died at the age of 90. This was an incredible feat, even back then, and he was honored to reach this age on the altar of one of Copán’s temples.
5 Branch IX
As Rama IX, Bhumibol Adulyadej was the ninth king of Thailand’s Chakkri dynasty and was, in fact, the country’s longest-reigning monarch. He assumed the throne in 1946 after the mysterious death of his uncle.
Despite being King of Thailand, Rama IX assumed the throne after Thailand had already abolished the formal monarchy. As a result, he served more as a figurehead than someone with real political power.
Still, the king was immensely popular and spent much of his time appearing at public celebrations and endorsing political figures. In 2009, the king contracted pneumonia and his health began to visibly deteriorate. He named his son, crown prince Vajiralongkorn, his heir and his successor to the throne.
Rama IX recently passed away, in 2016. He lived to be 88 years old, making him one of the longest-reigning monarchs in his lifetime.
4 John II
Juan II was born on October 5, 1840 and was often called Juan el Bueno. He was the son of Aloys II, Prince of Liechtenstein, and ascended the throne when he was 18 years old. Despite being the king, he installed his mother as his assistant to help him rule the country until 1860.
During his reign, John II created Liechtenstein’s first constitution. He later went on to reform it after World War I. This constitution is still in effect today, although it has undergone several major revisions since its creation.
In addition to creating Liechtenstein’s first constitution, Johann II set about strengthening ties with neighboring Switzerland. He even adopted the Swiss franc as the country’s national currency during the second half of his term.
He passed away in 1929 when he was 88 years old. In all, he ruled Liechtenstein for 70 years, making him one of the longest-reigning European monarchs in history.
3 Francis Joseph I
Franz Joseph I was the son of Archduke Franz Charles and was born in Vienna on August 18, 1830. In reality, it was his uncle who was the Emperor of Austria and not his father. However, because his uncle had no children, Francisco José I was named heir.
Interestingly, Franz Joseph I became emperor not after his uncle’s death, but after his abdication. On December 2, 1848, at just 18 years old, Franz Joseph was named Emperor of Austria.
As a fairly young monarch, he inspired hope in the citizens, and many Austrians felt that his youth showed that he could be a promising leader. Despite this, Franz Joseph I led a reign of neo-absolutism until 1859. During the latter part of his reign, the monarch relaxed and became a highly respected and revered man.
Franz Joseph I died in 1916 at the age of 86. His rule in Austria lasted for around 68 years and ended with him leading the country into World War I.
2 K’inich Janaab’ Pakal I
K’inich Janaab’ Pakal I was the Mayan king of Palenque, in present-day Mexico. He is often referred to as Pascal the Great and was responsible for helping Palenque gain power as a city.
K’inich Janaab’ Pakal I technically should have become king in AD 611 when the reigning king passed away. However, at the time, he was only about eight years old and considered too young to rule. However, he did not have to wait long to ascend to the throne, for four years later, in 615, K’inich Janaab ‘Pakal I was crowned king.
When K’inich Janaab’ Pakal I ascended the throne, Palenque was a city of moderate size. However, under the new king’s reign, the city became a vast metropolis, and many of the ruins are still buried in the jungle today.
In 683, the Maya king passed away at the age of 80. This meant that he had ruled for around 68 years in total.
1 Louis XIV
Louis XIV was the son of Anne of Austria and Louis XIII. He was born on September 5, 1638 in France and took the throne when he was only four years old!
Due to the king’s young age, he was largely neglected, leaving his mother to rule the kingdom until he could manage it on his own. Worse yet, when the king was only nine years old, an uprising by the Parisian nobility led Louis to further misfortune, poverty, and humiliation. Many of these experiences ended up shaping poor King Louis XIV’s personality later in his life.
When the king was in his early twenties, he fully assumed the throne as a powerful ruler. Despite this, he was a much loved king, known as the Sun King and revered as an idol. He then ruled France until his death in 1715 at the ripe age of 76. That meant he was at court for a whopping 72 years!
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