At a time when the only way to rule was to be born into it or to take it by force, there was a great danger of being king. The moment a ruler took his place on the throne, his life was in danger.
See also: Top 10 Truly Insane Rulers
Some survived. Some built empires and dynasties and died in their sleep on gold-lined silk tracks. But others weren't so lucky.
A handful of rulers only ever managed to maintain their power for a few days or even hours – leaving nothing but the incredible tragedy of their short lives.
10 Prince Milan Obrenovic II.: 26 days
Prince Milan Obrenovic II. Ruled Serbia for 26 days – and according to most reports he had no idea that he was in power.
He was sick all his life. It seemed like a family curse – he was the sixth child of his parents, but the first one who was healthy enough to survive childhood. When he turned 20 he was completely bedridden – but for two parents who had already lost five children, he was still their child prodigy.
Milan's father Miloš abdicated from the throne in 1839 and appointed his sick son ruler of Serbia – but his son, who died of pneumonia, did not even understand what was going on.
He hasn't signed a single document or specified a single rule at all times. He was too sick to get up or understand the generosity of what had happened to him. It is said that he thought his father was traveling and would ask people when he would return.
On the 26th day of his reign, Milan succumbed to his illness and died in his bed. He was twenty years old. When he died, he was in his mother's arms. 
9 Gordian I and Gordian II: 21 days
In AD 238, Rome saw six emperors rise and five decline. Each reign this year was short – but none shorter than the reigns of Gordian I and Gordian II, the men who ruled the empire as father and son.
Gordian I insisted that his son rule with him. The Senate had asked him to rule alone, but the older Goridan was an old man – already 80 years old – and his son, who was more important to him than anything else in the world.
He brought his son with him in everything he did. When he became proconsul of Africa, he made his son to his right; and when he was appointed emperor, he refused to rule without his boy.
Gordian's demand was an act of love from a fond father – but it would cost his son's life. 21 days after the couple took control of Rome, a rebel army attacked Gordian II in Carthage, where they overran his men and killed him in battle.
Gordian I had lost the light of his life. He was an eighty-year-old man who had survived his son. As soon as he heard the news, he retired to his room, put a belt around his neck, and ended his own life. 
8 Lady Jane Gray: 9 days
Lady Jane Gray never expected to be queen. She was only a 15 year old girl; the king's cousin, but only fourth in the line of succession. And yet four days after the death of King Edward VI. Aroused in 1553 with the news that she should rule England.
Edward VI. Should pass his crown on to his sister Mary – but he was a pious Protestant man and would not stand if his Catholic sister took over. And so he wrote a will days before his death, in which he appointed Jane Gray as his successor and sparked a spark that would plunge England into chaos.
Mary immediately rebelled against her cousin. Nine days after her coronation, Lady Jane Gray was jailed for treason. She was sentenced to be "burned alive on Tower Hill or beheaded at the Queen's discretion."
It took a year for the Queen's order to come in. Then they took Jane's husband first. She watched Mary's men drag him out of her room, cut off his head, and roll out his body on a cart.
When it was her turn, she looked brave for a moment. She recited a psalm and asked God for mercy. When the hangman asked for forgiveness, she simply asked him to speed up her death.
She did not panic until, blindfolded, she was ordered to put her head on the block. and in this bout of irrationality that comes with fear, she became afraid that she couldn't find it and shouted, "What should I do? Where is it? "
The assistant lieutenant from Tower Hill led her to her seat, and the hangman did what she asked of him. 
7 King Thong Lan: 7 days
Thong Lan was 15 years old when he was appointed king of Ayutthaya, an ancient kingdom in Thailand. For a short week he was the most powerful man in the nation – but he had no time to do anything.
In 1388, Thong Lan's father Boromrachathirat I fell ill and died on the way to a fight. Within a few days, Thong Lan had to deal with the news that his father would never come home, that he would have to rule in his place, and that – shortly thereafter – an army would come to kill him.
A local ruler, Ramesuan, assembled an army when he heard that young Thong Lan was on the throne, and within a few days he was at the door of his palace.
Thong Lan had never done anything to Ramesuan. In fact, Ramsuan and his father had been friends. But for reasons historians can only guess, Ramesan didn't hesitate a second before taking his friend's little son's life.
Ramesuan had Thong Lan dragged into a Buddhist temple, wrapped in a velvet bag and beaten to death with a club just seven days after his father's death. 
6 King John I: 5 days
King John I is the only French king who has spent his entire life as the undisputed ruler of France – but he was only king for five days.
John I was the only male son of King Louis X., but when Louis died on June 5, 1316, he was still in the womb.
Instead of complicating the succession, the French rulers decided to wait until John was born and make him king. From his birth on November 15th, he was the sovereign ruler of France.
However, John I. lived at a time when the death of children was widespread. As a king, he had a better chance than most others, but it was enough. The baby lived five days in life and then left the world.
There were conspiracy theories about his death – that he was murdered by his godmother or uncle, or that he had even been replaced by a simple man's baby and had lived a full life as an unknown merchant – but there is no evidence for one of them to be true.
Probably the store is simple: he was a baby who didn't make it. 
5 Dipendra of Nepal: 3 days
One of the shortest reigns in history passed only 19 years ago. It was the short but terrible reign of Dipendra in Nepal: the young king who massacred his own family.
On June 1, 2001, Dipendra arrived for a family gathering that was so drunk that he could hardly walk and was ready to fight. He immediately started arguing with his father, angry that he and his mother wanted to keep him from marrying the woman he loved.
He went angry and came back with several automatic weapons. And to everyone's horror, he opened fire on them all, starting with his father.
"He went wild and started shooting whoever came before him," said a survivor of the massacre, Dr. Shahi, the New York Times. "I don't know exactly how many weapons he used. I didn't count. It was too fast."
Dipendra murdered his father, mother, brother, sister and five other members of the royal family before he his gun turned and shot himself in the head.
No one knows exactly why he did it, some say it was because his parents tried to stop his wedding while others find it so incredible that they made conspiracy theories where Dipendra is referred to as framed.
But Dipendra's friends say that in the years before the massacre, his mental thoughts were slipping, Dipendra was taking antidepressants, and friends had said he needed help.  The bullet he aimed at him slowly killed him, and Dipendra fell into a coma instead of dying immediately.For three days before he stopped breathing, the man who was the royal fam ilie had killed, king. 
4 Sultan Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash: 2 days
The shortest living Sultan of Zanzibar saw how his rule met an abrupt end in the shortest war in history.
On August 25, 1896 Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash ascended the throne of Zanzibar – and was asked to resign almost immediately.
The British Empire saw Sayyid as a difficult ruler. They wanted someone who was more willing to bow to their will, and therefore, relying on a contract that required Zanzibar to get British permission before naming a sultan, asked Sayyid to give up his place before his Palace and ordered him to pull down his flag and go. They gave him time until August 27th at 9:00 am to abide by it, otherwise the palace would be destroyed.
When Sayyid refused, the British opened fire. They shot at his palace for 38 minutes, burning him, killing 500 people before the sultan's men surrendered.
It was the shortest war in history – and it ended one of the shortest reigns. 
] 3 Minshinzaw: 18 hours
Minshinzaw spent his life in exile. He was expelled from his native Pagan in modern Myanmar in 1152 by his own father after criticizing him for marrying a foreign woman. But even though his father kicked him out, he never stopped working to impress him.
In exile, he took control of the country where he had settled and made it wealthier than ever. He built dams and canals that tripled their crops and focused on education that attracted some of the greatest minds.
When his father died in 1167, Minshinzaw did not hesitate to take responsibility for the people of Heide. He left his country behind and returned to his former kingdom to ascend the throne. He returned home where his younger brother Narathu declared him king.
What Minshinzaw did not know was that Narathu was after the throne. He had smothered her father with sheets in her sleep.
Minshinzaw did not make it through the night. While he was sleeping, his brother poisoned him and wiped out the last person standing in the way of the throne. 
2 Tsar Michael II: 16 hours
Michael II woke up on the morning of March 15, 1917 to find out that his brother had renounced the throne and called him Tsar.
It was not a great gift. By 1917 the Russian Revolution was already in full swing and Michael knew that no emperor would last long. And so he did what any other person on the list should have done: he gave up the throne.
Michael stated that he would only take power if he was elected by universal suffrage and resigned as tsar within 16 hours of his proclamation. Then he returned to his villa, hoping for a simple life.
It didn't work. He was arrested shortly after the abdication of the throne and put under house arrest for a year. Then, on June 12, 1918, a member of the secret police named Gavril Myasnikov broke into his home, forced him into a carriage, rode him out into the forest, and shot him.
Michael's secretary and closest friend, Nicholas Johnson was pulled out and shot with him. Johnson was shot first. When they shot Michael, he grabbed his wounded friend and tried to comfort him when he died. 
1 Empress Yuan: Less than 5 hours
Nobody knows the full name of Empress Yuan. Nobody ever wrote it down. All that is recorded is that she was the only child of Emperor Xiaoming and ruled China for a few hours in 528 AD.
She was never more than a puppet in her grandmother's game. When she was born, her father was already ill and her grandmother, Empress Widow Hu, was determined to stay in power. To ensure that the baby Yuan's successor falls to her, she told the world that the baby was a boy.
Empress Yuan was only 50 days old when her father died and she was appointed ruler. And her grandmother immediately used her power to replace her with another child she could control: a 3-year-old name, Yuan Zhao.
The plan worked in some ways – but it infuriated a nation. People were immediately outraged by Empress Dowager Hu. The babies she had manipulated were killed with her.
Empress Dowager Hu and 3-year-old Yuan Zhu were pulled out of the castle and drowned in the Yellow River. And everyone connected to her – a total of around 13,000 people – was killed in a terrible massacre.
Only 83 names of the 13,000 killed were ever registered. We can't say for sure what happened to Empress Yuan, but nothing was ever heard from the emperor's little girl.