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Who was king for only 15 minutes?

Many people may be surprised to learn that there was a king who reigned for only 15 minutes. His name was Luis Filipe, and his brief time on the throne occurred during a turbulent period in Portuguese history. In this article, we’ll explore the strange and fascinating story behind King Luis Filipe’s 15 minutes of fame.

The lead-up to Luis Filipe’s reign

In 1908, King Carlos I of Portugal was assassinated along with his eldest son, Luis Filipe, the heir apparent. This double murder left the throne open, and Carlos’ younger son Manuel became king at the age of 18. However, Manuel’s reign was quickly challenged by supporters of a new republic in Portugal.

By 1910, tensions were rising between monarchists loyal to Manuel and the Republican opposition. On October 3rd, 1910, Republican rebels staged a coup and took control of the streets of Lisbon. King Manuel fled to the royal palace at Mafra along with his mother, Queen Amelie.

Luis Filipe’s brief reign

With the king in exile, the Republicans moved quickly to consolidate their power. On October 5th, they declared Portugal a republic, abolishing the monarchy after nearly 800 years of royal rule. However, in an unexpected twist, a small group of monarchists gathered in Porto in the north of Portugal and proclaimed their loyalty to Dom Luis Filipe.

Luis Filipe was the son of the assassinated King Carlos I and the brother of Manuel II. Although he had been killed alongside his father two years earlier, the monarchists in Porto symbolically declared the dead prince to be King Luis Filipe II. For about 15 minutes, Luis Filipe was the titular king of Portugal before the Republicans decisively quashed the short-lived rebellion.

The aftermath

After his brief and posthumous reign ended, Luis Filipe never again served as king outside of the imaginations of a few desperate monarchists. His brother Manuel II would formally abdicate and live the rest of his life in exile in England.

Meanwhile, the new Portuguese Republic would see its fair share of turmoil and unrest over the following decades. However, the monarchy was never restored, and Portugal remains a republic to this day.

As for the ill-fated Luis Filipe, his tragic life and brief time on the throne have faded into historical obscurity. While he holds the record for the shortest verifiable reign in history, his 15 minutes as king ultimately had little impact.

Other short reigns in history

While Luis Filipe’s 15-minute rule is the shortest verified reign, there are a few other monarchs throughout history who supposedly had shockingly brief regimes:

  • Lady Jane Grey – the disputed Queen of England for 9 days in 1553.
  • Louis XIX – King of France for 20 minutes in 1830 before abdicating.
  • Yuan Shikai – Emperor of China for 83 days in 1916.
  • Lê Trịnh – Emperor of Vietnam for 5 months in 1789.

However, the reigns of these other monarchs are not always accepted by historians. Luis Filipe stands out for definitively being king, albeit only for a quarter of an hour.

The fate of Portugal’s monarchy

Year Event
1908 Assassination of King Carlos I and heir Luis Filipe
1910 Overthrow of King Manuel II by Republicans
1910 Brief proclamation of Luis Filipe as king for 15 minutes
1910 Portugal declared a republic
1912 Manuel II abdicates and goes into exile


The story of King Luis Filipe’s 15 minute reign is an obscure but fascinating footnote in Portuguese history. While largely forgotten today, it illustrates the chaotic and uncertain political climate surrounding the end of the Portuguese monarchy. Luis Filipe’s brief time as king would be the last gasp of royal power before the new Republic took hold and consigned Portugal’s kings and queens to history.