Senior European Sovereigns

This chart indicates who held the position of longest reigning European monarch at any time in European history since 1492, the year of the unification of Spain and the discovery of the New World, with Wikipedia links provided for more information. Many of the towering figures of European royal history appear, as well as some lesser-known ones. Unsurprisingly, it is Louis XIV of France who held the status of senior monarch for the longest: the last fifty years of his 72-year reign.

Prior to the 1871 unification of Germany, I suppose it is possible at any point that there was a prince of a little principality somewhere who had been reigning longer than any of the more famous monarchs listed, but these rulers while often de facto independent were arguably not fully sovereign, being first subject to the Holy Roman Empire and then to the Germanic Confederation. The unifications of Italy and Germany dramatically increased the importance and visibility of the few small states that remained independent. Therefore prior to 1871 I have considered only rulers of kingdoms and empires, with sovereign princes, grand duchesses etc. eligible for inclusion only after that date (which is why Ivan the Terrible's accession is dated from 1547 when he proclaimed himself the first Tsar of all the Russias rather than 1533 when he became Grand Prince of Moscow). (If for the sake of consistency smaller states were excluded entirely, after the death of King Haakon VII of Norway in 1957 the senior monarch would have been Paul I of Greece (1947) until 1964, Frederik IX of Denmark (1947) until 1972, Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden (1950) until 1973, Baudouin I of Belgium (1951) until 1993, and Queen Elizabeth II since 1993.)

In cases of monarchs (Augustus "the Strong" of Poland, Philip V of Spain, and Ferdinand IV/III/I of Naples & Sicily) who temporarily renounced or lost their thrones (though Ferdinand never lost Sicily) but then came back to reign for the rest of their lives, I have considered their first accession date to be valid for the purposes of seniority. Therefore if Michael of Romania (1927/1940) or Simeon II of Bulgaria (1943) were restored today, as I fervently wish they would be, they could be considered "senior" to Queen Elizabeth II (1952).

DatesSovereignBornAccededDied
1471-1493Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich III (King of the Romans)14151452 (1440)1493
1493-1516King Vladislaus II of Hungary & Bohemia14561490 (1471)1516
1516-1519Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (King of the Romans)14591493 (1486)1519
1519-1521King Manuel I of Portugal146914951521
1521-1548King Sigismund I of Poland146715061548
1548-1556Holy Roman Emperor Karl V (King Carlos I of Spain)15001519 (1516)1558
1556-1557King João III of Portugal150215211557
1557-1560King Gustav I of Sweden149615231560
1560-1564Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I (King of Hungary & Bohemia)15031556 (1526)1564
1564-1567Mary, Queen of Scots154215421587
1567-1584Tsar Ivan IV of Russia153015471584
1584-1598King Felipe II of Spain (I of Naples)15271556 (1554)1598
1598-1603Queen Elizabeth I of England153315581603
1603-1625King James I of England (VI of Scotland)15661603 (1567)1625
1625-1632King Sigismund III of Poland156615871632
1632-1648King Christian IV of Denmark & Norway157715881648
1648-1665King Felipe IV of Spain160516211665
1665-1715King Louis XIV of France163816431715
1715-1725Emperor Peter I of Russia167216821725
1725-1733King Augustus II of Poland16701697 (1709)1733
1733-1746King Felipe V of Spain16831700 (1724)1746
1746-1750King João V of Portugal168917061750
1750-1774King Louis XV of France171017151774
1774-1786King Friedrich II of Prussia171217401786
1786-1788King Carlos III of Spain171617591788
1788-1825King Ferdinand IV/III/I of Naples & Sicily and the Two Sicilies17511759 (1815)1825
1825-1840King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia177017971840
7 Jun-7 Oct 1840King Willem I of the Netherlands177218151843
1840-1864King Wilhelm I of Württemberg178118161864
1864-1865King Leopold I of the Belgians179018311865
1865-1868Queen Isabel II of Spain183018331904
1868-1901Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom181918371901
1901-1916Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary183018481916
1916-1929Prince Johannes II of Liechtenstein184018581929
1929-1931King Alfonso XIII of Spain188618861941
1931-1948Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands188018901962
1948-1957King Haakon VII of Norway187219051957
1957-1964Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg189619191985
1964-1989Prince Franz Joseph II of Liechtenstein190619381989
1989-2005Prince Rainier III of Monaco192319492005
2005-Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom19261952

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