The shortest lasting empires in history.


Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
The 18 shortest lived empires I could find. It is interesting to compare their numbers on the list with the number of years they lasted:

18) King Stefan Uros IV Dushan of Serbia crowned himself Emperor of the Serbs and the Romans 16 April 1346 and died 20 December 1355. The Serbian empire gradually became weaker and more decentralized in the reign of his son Emperor Stefan Uros V who died 3 December 1371. Dushan's brother Simeon Uros proclaimed himself Emperor of the Serbs and Greeks in 1355 but only ruled in Thessaly, and died in 1370. His son Emperor John Uros abdicated and became a monk, probably in 1372/73. So the Serbian Empire(s) only lasted 25 or 27 years.

17) The (second) French Empire lasted for 17 years, 9 months, 2 days from 2 December 1852 to 4 September 1870.

16) The "Empire of Thessalonica" at its height ruled most of Greece and Thrace. Theodore Komnenos Doukas was crowned emperor in 1225 or 1227/28 but was defeated and captured in 1230. His brother Manuel Doukas ruled the shrinking realm with the title of Despot until Theodore was freed and deposed him in 1237. Theodore made his son John Komnenos Doukas ruler with the title of despot or Emperor. John definitely used the title of emperor by 1241. In 1242 John was forced to submit to Nicaea and use the lower title of despot. John died in 1244 and his younger brother Demetrios became despot, but Thessalonika was conquered by Nicaea in 1246.

So the Thessalonikan realm lasted for 18 to 21 years after the rulers first used the title of emperor but the rulers only used the title of emperor for a total of 3 to 10 years.

15) The breakaway "Gallic Empire" in Gaul, Britain, and Hispania for a while, lasted 14 years from 260 to 274 before being conquered by Emperor Aurelian of the central Roman Empire.

14) The Korean Empire (Japanese puppet state) lasted for 12 years, 10 months, and 16 days, from 13 October 1897 until annexed by Japan on 29 August 1910.

13) The Empire of Manchukuo (Japanese puppet state) last 11 years, 3 months, and 14 days from 1 May 1934 to 15 August 1945.

12) The so called "Brittanic Empire" in Britain and part of northern Gaul lasted for 10 years from 286 to 296 before being reconquered by the Roman Empire.

11) The (First) French Empire lasted from 18 May 1804 to 11 April 1814 (9 years, 10 months, 24 days) and again for the "hundred days" from 20 March to 7 July 1814 (109 days, or 3 months and 17 days).

10) The (Second) Empire of Haiti lasted for 9 years, 4 months, and 20 days from 26 August 1849 to 15 January 1859.

9) Italy invaded the Kingdom of Kingdoms of Ethiopia October 2, 1935 and occupied the capital Addis Ababa 5 May 1936. Allied and Ethiopian forces defeated the Italians in 1941 and reoccupied Addis Ababa 5 May 1941.

King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy was proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia on 9 May 1936 and renounced his Ethiopian title in November, 1943. Thus the Italian Empire of Ethiopia lasted 5 years de facto and about 7 years in title.

8) In 407 Roman soldiers in Britain revolted and proclaimed one Marcus emperor, but soon killed him and proclaimed Gratian Emperor. They deposed and killed Gratian and made Constantine III Emperor. Constantine invaded Gaul and eventually ruled from Britain to Spain before being defeated and killed in 411. Thus this rebel Roman Empire only last 4 years, except that Britain continued to be ruled by rebels. Thus it is possible that this splinter Roman Empire lasted for 876 years until the conquest of Gwynedd in 1282/83.

7) The (second) Mexican Empire lasted 3 years, 11 months, and 9 days from 10 July 1963 to 19 June 1867.

6) In 270, Zenobia, regent for King of Kings Vaballathus, sent Palmyrene forces to conquer most of the Roman East from Egypt to Turkey. in 271 Vaballathus and Zenobia were proclaimed Augustus and Augusta, Emperor and Empress. Emperor Aurelian conquered Palmyra in 272. Palmyra revolted in 273 and proclaimed one Antiochus emperor. Aurelian reconquered Palmyra in 273.

The "Palmyrene Empire" lasted for three years and the imperial title was only used for 2 years.

5) The Central African Empire lasted for 2 years 9 months, and 17 days from 4 December 1976 to 21 September 1979

4) The (first) Empire of Haiti lasted for 2 years and 24 days from 1804 to October 1806.

3) The (first) Mexican Empire lasted 7 months and 26 days or 10 months and 0 days, from 19 May or 21 July 1822 to 19 March 1823.

2) The Empire of Vietnam (Japanese puppet state) lasted 5 months and 12 days from 11 March 1945 to 23 August 1945.

1) The Empire of China lasted 3 months and 10 days from 12 December 1915 to 22 March 1916.

Does anyone else have examples of empires that lasted for a generation or less or have more precise dates for some of my examples?
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Jan 2016
United States, MO
The Macedonian Empire didn’t last too long, Alexander died expanding it and it fell apart once he was gone.


Jul 2015
United States
The Incan Empire was the first to come to my mind as a relatively short-lived empire. But it lasted much longer than any of those you've listed.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
The Incan Empire was the first to come to my mind as a relatively short-lived empire. But it lasted much longer than any of those you've listed.
Yes, but it was a real huge empire, unlike some of those listed, which were small, puppet states, etc.


Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Don't forget the 'Empire' set up in Mexico by Napoleon III under his client Maximillian during the American Civil War .
A combination of the USA govt post -1865 invoking the Monroe Doctrine and Mexican revolutionary leader Juarez's army on the ground- who deposed French puppet Maximillan- meant this so called 'Empire ' was of very short duration indeed.
Feb 2018
The Qin lasted 15 years, and unlike most up there, they were extremely powerful. But the death of the founder can do a number on things.
Sep 2013
Ontario, Canada
Attila's Hunnic Empire was a real flash in the pan affair.

It basically formed, reached its peak, and fell all within the span of ten years or so. From when Attila's brother Bleda died and he took sole control around 445 CE to his death in 453 CE, after which the Empire essentially crumbled.