Lady Jane Grey – 9 Days
When the 15-year-old Edward VI lay dying in the early summer of 1553, it was expected that his Catholic half-sister Mary would take the throne. However, Edward named his Protestant cousin Jane Grey as his successor, perhaps due to the influence of Jane’s father-in-law, the duke of Northumberland. At the time Northumberland was the most powerful person in the country. Edward died on 6 July 1553, and three days later Jane was informed that she was now queen. The next day, she was officially proclaimed Queen of England, France, and Ireland after she had taken up secure residence in the Tower of London, where English monarchs customarily resided from the time of accession until coronation.
Northumberland faced a number of key tasks to consolidate his power after Edward’s death. Most importantly, he had to isolate and, ideally, capture Edward’s sister Lady Mary to prevent her from gathering support for her claim to the throne. As soon as Mary was sure of her brother’s death, she set out to East Anglia, to rally her supporters. Northumberland set out from London with troops on 14 July; But with the duke gone, the Privy Council switched their allegiance from Jane to Mary, and proclaimed her queen in London on 19 July among great public celebration. Instead of being protected in the tower, Jane was now a prisoner there. The new queen Mary entered London in a triumphal procession on 3 August, and the Duke of Northumberland was executed on 22 August 1553. In September, Parliament declared Mary the rightful queen and denounced and revoked Jane’s claim to the throne.
At first, it looked as if Jane’s life would be spared, but a rebellion broke out against Mary because she was to marry Phillip of Spain who was Catholic. Jane’s father and brothers joined the rebellion and it was decided to go ahead with her prosecution. On 12 February 1554, Jane was taken to her execution.
Her last speech was as follows:
“Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact, indeed, against the Queen’s highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but touching the procurement and desire thereof by me or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocency, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day.”
Her head was placed on the block and just before the ax fell she said: Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!
She was 17.
Dục Đức Emperor of Vietnam -3 days
After the monarch, Tự Đức died a council of 3 regents appointed Dục Đức to be emperor. Dục Đức ruled for only three days before he was deposed and sentenced to death by the same regents who had enthroned him. The reasons are unclear. Historian Pham Van Son wrote that Dục Đức so embarrassed the court with his debauchery at the coronation that one of the regents revealed incriminating information contained in the late emperor’s will. The court quickly ruled to kill him with poison for violating the mourning rules and buried him in an unmarked grave. Other historians make no mention of this episode and say that Dục Đức was not executed but rather was left to die in captivity.It is highly suspected that the regents may have feared Dục Đức would strip them of the power they enjoyed under his weak predecessor Tự Đức.
Louis and Henri the V of France 7 days, 20 minutes
On 2 August 1830, in response to the July Revolution, the same revolution mentioned in the book and musical Les Miserables, Henri’s grandfather, Charles X, abdicated, and twenty minutes later Charles’ elder son Louis also abdicated in favor of the young Henri. Charles X urged his cousin, Louis-Philippe of Orléans, to proclaim Henri as Henri V, King of France, but Louis Philippe had his own plans. After seven days, the National Assembly decreed that the throne should pass to Louis Philippe, who was proclaimed King of the French on 9 August.
- Henri’s reign was 7 days
- Louis’ reign was 20 minutes
Edward V – 0 to 86 days
Edward, aged 12, never reigned but was technically King of England from his father Edward IV’s death on 9 April 1483 until 26 June of the same year. He was never crowned, and his 86-day reign was dominated by the influence of his uncle and Lord Protector, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who succeeded him as Richard III on 26 June 1483; this was confirmed by the Act entitled Titulus Regius, which denounced any further claims through his father’s heirs. Edward and his brother Richard age 9, disappeared. It is heavily suspected that they were locked in the tower by their uncle and left to die.