Top 10 unforgettable shortest serving leaders in history

Imagine being either chosen or bestowed the mantle of leadership over a nation, kingdom or empire. You would be excited and happy that you have been awarded such kind of power. But for the leaders we are going to look at they never enjoyed that power for long. They had the power but it was taken and transferred either willingly or unwillingly. They were serving leaders with a short reign.

Any kind of leadership position one has there is always the risk that you might be removed forcibly or by mutual understanding. Also the fact that you’re a leader doesn’t mean you are immune to diseases and death. Some of the leaders we are going to look at faced such a situation.

Being a leader isn’t a guarantee of things going your way. Due to the political nature of most leadership positions there is always a surprise waiting for you. Serving ones nation is the most noble and honorable thing but sometimes that isn’t meant to be.

Therefore without further ado this is what I found out on these leaders that made history;

10. King Louis XIX of France – 20 minutes

shortest serving leaders

Like most European countries, France had a fully functioning monarchy with kings and queens at the seat of power. With succession being through hereditary that’s how Louis XIX became the 20 minute king.

Louis XIX was the son of Charles X who was the younger brother to King Louis XVI. Louis XIX also known as Louis Antoine had married the Princess Marie-Thérèse, daughter of King Louis XVI.

During the 1800s it was a tough time for the French monarchy due to the revolution. Many royals were killed or exiled and the monarchy was trying to survive and be relevant.

When the king died in 1824 with no male child, the throne fell to Charles X his younger brother. Charles X tried to save the monarchy from collapsing by instituting reforms but it wasn’t enough to win over the people. The monarchy was unpopular and what people wanted was real change.

Due to all the pressure, Charles X abdicated the throne and chose his son Louis XIX as the new king. But King Louis XIX was not the popular or preferred candidate. 20 minutes later he also abdicated the throne and fled to Scotland where he stayed the reminder of his days.

9. Emperor Mo of Jin Dynasty (China) – 1 day

shortest serving leaders

The Jin Dynasty was a dominant force in Northern China during 1115 CE. As with many ancient world nations or empires there was a person in charge and in the Jin Dynasty that was the emperor.

The emperor had absolute power and one to be an emperor it can either be via succession, force or chosen by the outgoing emperor to be the leader.

Just like any other empire they had enemies who wanted nothing but to conquer this vast empire. Probably the most notable are the Mongols of Genghis Khan from the north and the Southern Song Dynasty.

In the 13th century the Jin Dynasty was engaged in war with both the Mongols and the Song Dynasty. The empire was struggling but Emperor Aizong came to power in 1224 after his father Emperor Xuanzong died.

Emperor Aizong managed to foster peace with all the warring factions including the Mongols. But after the death of Genghis Khan, his successor Ögedei Khan attacked together with the Song Dynasty in 1232.

The emperor fled to Caizhou but it was later besieged by the Mongols and Song Dynasty. Because the emperor didn’t wish to witness the fall of the Jin dynasty he committed suicide and passed the throne to his general as the new leader.

The general became Emperor Mo of Jin Dynasty, but didn’t reign for long because the Mongols and the Song Dynasty conquered Caizhou. The emperor was killed in action, his reign only lasted a day. He joined the band of serving leaders with an unbelievably short time in office.

8. Chancellor Joseph Goebbels of Germany – 1 day

shortest serving leaders

Joseph Goebbels joined the Nazi party in the 1920s and was a close ally of Adolf Hitler before and during the war. Joseph was a writer and journalist who impressed Hitler with his use of words as a form of expression.

In 1933 when Adolf Hitler was the German chancellor, Joseph Goebbels was appointed as the Minister for public enlightenment and propaganda. His role was to foster anti-Semitic feelings among the German population through the use of media and literature. He became the propaganda machine of the Nazi party before and during the war.

When the 2nd World War started, Joseph created propaganda films that were meant to win favor with the German people. They were meant to show that the Nazi party was on the right while the rest are wrong.

But as the war progressed and defeat was imminent, before Hitler committed suicide he appointed Joseph Goebbels as chancellor of Germany. But unfortunately Goebbels followed the same fate as Hitler. He poisoned his six (6) children and Joseph and his wife, Magda committed suicide. This was all done in Hitler’s bunker in Berlin.

Joseph Goebbels was German chancellor for a whole one day.

7. Sultan Khalid Bin Barghash of Zanzibar – 2 days

Sultan Khalid Bin Barghash of Zanzibar

The East African island of Zanzibar was ruled by sultans who were the authority of the island. Sultan Khalid bin Barghash was one such leader, son of Sultan Sayid Barghash Bin Said Al-Busaid a popular sultan in Zanzibar.

But in the 1890s this island was part of the British Empire, the British wanted a different man at the helm. A person who will be favorable to them and not cause trouble, the British feared the sultan’s popularity among the people.

Sultan Khalid Bin Barghash was reluctant to leave his position for the British chosen sultan. Therefor the British responded by sending warships to the coast of Zanzibar. They bombarded the wooden palace where Sultan Khalid was forcing him to surrender, the British won and had their way.

Sultan Khalid fled to Seychelles and was only sultan of Zanzibar for only 2 days.

6. King Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev of Nepal – 3 days

King Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev of Nepal

Before he was king, Dipendra was the crown prince of Nepal. The circumstances that led to him being crowned king are rather shocking.

On June 1st 2001 the crown prince shot his father King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, his mother Queen Aishwarya and 8 other members of the royal family. The story goes that the family didn’t approve of the crown prince interest in marrying a woman from an Indian royal family.

After the crown prince shot his family he pointed the gun towards himself and shot himself in a suicide attempt. However he didn’t die but actually got into a coma. He had tried to commit. Because the king was dead, the throne fell to the crown prince while he was still in coma. But as fate would have it 3 days later he died and his uncle became the new king, King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev.

Therefore King Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev reign lasted from June 1st 2001- June 4th 2001. Of all the leaders in Nepal he was one of the serving leaders that impacted Nepal’s history negatively.

5. King John I of France – 5 days

shortest serving leaders in history

John I of France was son to King Louis X who died in June 1316. In the time of his death John I wasn’t even born so he had the throne before his birth. In that same year of November 15th he was born.

The throne was bestowed on him becoming King John I of France. But unfortunately on November 20th 1316 he was dead; it is unclear on the cause of his death. With rumors of poisoning and kidnapping rife with his uncle Philippe V being the prime suspect.

Therefore King John I of France managed to serve for only 5 days and his uncle became the next king that’s King Philippe V.

4. Prime Minister Frank Forde of Australia – 5 days

shortest serving leaders in history

Frank Forde was a politician from the Labor party who was Capricornia federal representative for 24 years (1922-1946). He served in the Australian government as deputy prime minister, Minister for the Army, Advisory War Council member and Minister for Customs.

He had a great resume or portfolio. And, that is why when Prime Minister John Curtin died in July 1945 from heart disease; He took over the helm and became the Australian Prime Minister, PM Frank Forde.

But unfortunately the Labor party had other ideas. They were not looking to have him as the permanent prime minister. The party therefore chose Ben Chifley to become prime minister.

Frank Forde was Australia’s PM from 6 July 1945 – 13 July 1945 hence becoming Australia’s 15th prime minister with the shortest time in office.

3. Queen Lady Jane Grey of England – 9 days

Lady Jane Grey of England

She was King Henry VIII’s great niece and 5th in line to the throne. King Henry VIII died in 1537 therefore according to succession laws his son Edward VI became the next king. But young King Edward VI was sick with tuberculosis and it was apparent that he won’t reign for long.

On July 6th 1553 King Edward VI was dead at only 15 years of age. But before his death the king had stated that Lady Jane Grey, her cousin, becomes the new queen or ruler. This was all done because the king wanted to keep the country on the path of a protestant England.

Her cousin was protestant but her half-sister, Mary Tudor, was a catholic. The choice of queen that the king wanted didn’t go well with Mary Tudor. This was because according to succession laws Mary was next in line to the throne after her brother, King Edward VI.

With growing support for Mary, Queen Lady Jane Grey reign ended and she was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Her reign lasted for only 9 days from July 10th 1553 – July 19th 1553.

Queen Mary took the throne and was reluctant to execute Lady Jane Grey. But when Lady Jane Grey’s father joined Sir Thomas Wyatt’s rebellion in January 1554, the queen considered her too dangerous to have around.

Therefore on February 12th 1554 Lady Jane Grey was executed at the tender age of 16 years.

2. Pope Urban VII of the Roman Catholic Church – 12 days

Pope Urban VII of the Roman Catholic Church

Pope Urban VII birth name was Giovanni Battista Castagna; he was an Italian priest who had been chosen to be pope on September 15th 1590.

But unfortunately he didn’t get to serve the church as pope for that long; he was pope for 12 days that is from September 15th 1590 – September 27th 1590. In his short service he managed to enact a smoking ban within the church.

He died in office and malaria was the culprit here but Pope Gregory XIV did actually took over from him.

1. King Umberto II of Italy – 34 days

King Umberto II of Italy

Umberto was son to the reigning king, King Vittorio Emanuele III, of Italy and part of the monarchy as the prince. Just like many monarchs in Europe, they were feeling the pressure of people wanting a change in the system. Italy was no different to this wave of change.

In 1946 there was a referendum in Italy to decide whether the country wanted a republic or remain a kingdom. Hoping to sway the public in favor of the monarchy, King Vittorio Emanuele III abdicated the throne in favor of his son Umberto.

He became King Umberto II in May 1946 but due to his father and the monarch being disliked among the Italian people. It was a downward spiral for the Italian monarchy.

When the referendum was over, the people voted overwhelmingly against the monarch. Italy became a republic and that was the end of the Italian monarchy.

King Umberto II was the last crowned king or monarch of Italy. He went into exile in Portugal where he stayed in the remainder of his days. Although 34 days is quite good in comparison to some of the leaders in the list but it is still short of leaders who served years in power. Therefore he deserves to be among the serving leaders.