Dead people or animals as heads of state

May 2012
999
UK
#1
A head of state is normally a human who's alive, but have there been any authentic cases of either a dead person, or an animal, being named as head of state?

Kim Il-sung has been named as Eternal President of North Korea, but is this regarded as a genuine constitutional role, or just an honorific?

Caligula was said to have planned to make his horse, Incitatus, consul, and the consul could be considered the technical head of state. However, he never actually did, and it may just be a story anyway. He did make him a senator though.

In Egypt the Apis bull had some functions of a ceremonial religious leader (and by extension, head of state). He was accorded great honour, given an elaborate burial, and there was a whole hereditary succession of them, with their reign-lengths, names, and those of their wives, recorded for posterity (this fact has actually proved useful in the reconstruction of Egyptian chronology). He wasn't actually the head of state though, since that was the pharaoh.
 
Mar 2010
9,842
#2
I remember hearing about some ancient Chinese Emporer whom declared himself a God. Then when he died his court refused to acknowledge the fact and took him on a tour of his empire. Finally only acknowledging his death after the smeel got too bad.

Although I can't find any sources for this
 
Dec 2011
1,392
#3
Kim Il-sung has been named as Eternal President of North Korea, but is this regarded as a genuine constitutional role, or just an honorific?
I cant see it as being a "role" if you think of a role as being like a job. More of an idol than a role.
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,411
South of the barcodes
#4
Caligula was said to have planned to make his horse, Incitatus, consul, and the consul could be considered the technical head of state. However, he never actually did, and it may just be a story anyway. He did make him a senator though.
Its best to think of Caligula as a man with a very dry and arch sense of humour, nobody else got it but he amused himself! Electing his horse as consul is probably an attempt to say your all so stupid even my horse can do a better job which is possibly correct for the Sheldon Cooper of Roman politics but really not a political thing to say if you dont want to upset your base or offend your allies.
Its the sort of offhand joke that his political enemies could run with and really make him suffer, think of modern politics and mention dogs on roof racks, having you back in chains or throwing granny off the cliff. You get the idea.
 
Jul 2012
177
Philadelhpia, PA
#5
Its best to think of Caligula as a man with a very dry and arch sense of humour, nobody else got it but he amused himself! Electing his horse as consul is probably an attempt to say your all so stupid even my horse can do a better job which is possibly correct for the Sheldon Cooper of Roman politics but really not a political thing to say if you dont want to upset your base or offend your allies.
Its the sort of offhand joke that his political enemies could run with and really make him suffer, think of modern politics and mention dogs on roof racks, having you back in chains or throwing granny off the cliff. You get the idea.
I agree that Caligula meant to be funny, but his humor often went much to far, and i think he was likely insane, as well as a sexual pervert..

On the topic of his horse it seems he was enamored with it, considering he drove Rome to bankruptcy by building a bridge so he could ride it across the bay of Naples.
 

Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
#6
I do not know about the dead people or animals but I do know about inanimate objects declared as the ruler of the state.

1. In Hindu epic Ramayana King Dashrath exiled his eldest son Rama from the kingdom for fourteen years to fulfill the promise he gave to his wife Kaikeyi (step mother of Rama), so that Kaikeyi's son Bharat could rule the kingdom. However when Bharat got this news, he declined to be the ruler & went to the jungle to met Rama and to advice him to return back to rule as king. However Lord Rama declined this offer due to the promise he gave to his father. Bharat took Rama's Paduka (wodden sandals) as proxy to rule on lord Rama's behalf. So the Paduka were treated as the head of the state untill the Lord Rama came back after fourteen years.




2. Tenth guru (spiritual leader in sikkhism) of Sikkhism - Guru Gobind Singh declared Adi granth (sacred text of sikkhism) as his sucessor in 1708. He ordered all the Sikhs to considered Adi granth as the elevnth guru of Sikkhism. from then onwards it is considered as the Guru of the sikh people.




3.Travancore - a Princely state in British India was said to be ruled by the Lord Padmanabhaswamy. The rulers considered themselves as servent of the lord Padmanabhaswamy. They considered themselves as ruling on behalf of lord Padmanabhaswamy. and as such they declined to join the India after independance of India as according to them they didn't have any authority to take the decision because they were merely ruling on behlf of the lord Padmanabhswamy. They only joined the india when the assasination attempt was made on the prime minister of the state. Also one more interesting thing As they considered lord Padmanabhswamy as the ruler of the state they used to deposit all the excess gold and money collected from tax into the vaults of Padmanabhaswamy temple. (althaugh secretly!!!). So much gold was deposited in this temples that when the vault of one of the temples opened by the goverment last year they found the antique treasure worth in trillions deposited there for centuries.

 

antocya

Ad Honorem
May 2012
5,767
Iraq
#9
I read in a book about history of Americas that the Inca mummified their kings and treated them as if they were alive even after they died, although they weren't ruling anymore. There was one king who wanted to legitimize his rule and since his parents didn't formally marry, he decided to have the marriage done posthumously. His mother married his father's mummy, who incidentally was also her brother. Probably the strangest marriage in history since not only was she marrying her brother but also a dead man.
 

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