An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of
discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order.
Archetypally, it was the period of time between the reign of one
monarch and the next (coming from Latin inter-, "between" and rēgnum,
"reign" [from rex, rēgis, "king"]), and the concepts of interregnum
and regency therefore overlap. Historically, the longer and heavier
interregna were typically accompanied by widespread unrest, civil and
succession wars between warlords, and power vacuums filled by foreign
invasions or the emergence of a new power. A failed state is usually
The term also refers to the periods between the election of a new
parliament and the establishment of a new government from that
parliament in parliamentary democracies, usually ones that employ some
form of proportional representation that allows small parties to elect
significant numbers, requiring time for negotiations to form a
government. In the UK, Canada and other "first past the post"
electoral systems, this period is usually very brief, except in the
rare occurrence of a hung parliament as occurred both in the UK in
2017 and in Australia in 2010. In parliamentary interregnums, the
previous government usually stands as a caretaker government until the
new government is established.
The term has been applied to the period of time between the election
of a new
President of the United States
President of the United States and his or her inauguration,
during which the outgoing president remains in power, but as a lame
duck. In some Christian churches, "interregnum" describes the time
between vacancy and appointment of priests or bishops to various
1 Historical periods of interregnum
2.3 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
4 In fiction
5 See also
Historical periods of interregnum
Particular historical periods known as interregna include:
The period of 206–202 BC in China, after the death of the final Qin
emperor, when there was a contest to the throne. It ended with the
accession of Liu Bang, ushering in the Han dynasty.
Crisis of the Third Century
Crisis of the Third Century (235–284) in the Roman Empire, when
it was split into multiple realms and chaos (invasion, civil war,
Cyprian Plague, and economic depression) was a constant threat until
Diocletian restored the empire.
The ten-year period from 574/575 to 584/585 in the Kingdom of the
Lombards, known as the Rule of the Dukes.
Interregnum (628–632), a conflict that broke out after
the death of
Khosrau II between the Sasanian nobles of different
The 1022–1072 period in Ireland, between the death of Máel
Sechnaill mac Domnaill and the accession of Toirdhealbhach Ua Briain,
is sometimes regarded as an interregnum, as the High Kingship of
Ireland was disputed throughout these decades. The interregnum may
even have extended to 1121, when
Toirdhealbhach Ua Conchobhair
Toirdhealbhach Ua Conchobhair acceded
to the title.
From 13 April 1204 to 25 July 1261 in the Byzantine Empire. Following
Sack of Constantinople
Sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, the Byzantine
Empire was dissolved, to be replaced by several Crusader states and
several Byzantine states. It was re-established by Nicean general
Alexios Strategopoulos who placed
Michael VIII Palaiologos
Michael VIII Palaiologos back on the
throne of a united Byzantine Empire.
From 21 May 1254 to 29 September 1273, The Great
Interregnum in the
Empire after the deposition of the last Hohenstaufen
emperor Frederick II by
Pope Innocent IV
Pope Innocent IV and the death of his son King
Conrad IV of Germany
Conrad IV of Germany until the election of the Habsburg scion Rudolph
as Rex Romanorum.
Interregnum in Scotland, which lasted from either 19 March 1286
or 26 September 1290 until 17 November 1292. The exact dating of the
interregnum depends on whether the uncrowned Margaret, Maid of Norway
was officially queen before her death in 1290. It lasted until John
Balliol was crowned King of Scots.
Interregnum in Scotland, from 10 July 1296, when John Balliol
was deposed, until 25 March 1306, when
Robert the Bruce
Robert the Bruce was crowned.
From 14 January 1301 until 1308 in the
Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary between the
extinction of the
Árpád dynasty and when Charles I of Hungary
secured the throne for himself against several pretenders.
From 5 June 1316 to 15 November 1316 in France and Navarre, between
the death of Louis X and the birth of his posthumous son John I.
From 2 August 1332 until 21 June 1340 in
Denmark when the country was
mortgaged to a few German counts.
The Portuguese Interregnum, from 22 October 1383 until 6 April 1385, a
result of the succession crisis caused by the death of Ferdinand I
without a legitimate heir.
The Ottoman Interregnum, from 8 March 1403 until 1413, a result of the
death of Sultan
Bayezid I at the hands of Central Asian warlord Timur.
A period of civil war ensued as none of Bayezid's sons could establish
primacy. The crisis was resolved when one of his sons, Mehmed,
defeated and killed his brothers and reestablished the Empire.
From 20 January 1410 to 1412 in the Kingdom of Aragon. The death of
King Martin without heir led to a succession crisis and a period of
civil war, resolved ultimately by the Compromise of Caspe.
The 1453–1456 period of civil war in
Kingdom of Majapahit
Kingdom of Majapahit (now in
From 1481 until 1483 in the Kingdom of Norway, during a conflict over
the succession of John, during the period of the Kalmar Union. The
Norwegian Council of the Realm initially refused to accept the
hereditary succession of John; as they asserted that Norway was an
elective monarchy. When no serious opposition candidate emerged, the
Council relented and elected John.
From 6 April 1490 to 15 July 1490 in the
Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary between
the death of
Matthias Corvinus and election of Vladislaus II.
Time of Troubles
Time of Troubles in Russia (1598–1613) between the Rurikid and
Interregnum (1649–1660), a republican period in the three
kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland. Government was carried out
by the Commonwealth and the Protectorate of
Oliver Cromwell after the
execution of Charles I and before the restoration of Charles II
A second English interregnum occurred between 23 December 1688, when
James II was deposed in the Glorious Revolution, and the installation
of William III and Mary II as joint sovereigns on 13 February 1689
pursuant to the Declaration of Right.
French and British interregnum in the Dutch East Indies between 1806
and 1815. The period of French and followed by British rules on the
Dutch East Indies. The French ruled between 1806 and 1811. The British
took over for 1811 to 1815, and transferred its control back to the
Dutch in 1815.
The brief Russian interregnum of 1825, caused by uncertainty over who
succeeded the deceased Emperor Alexander I, only lasted between 1
December and 26 December 1825, but was used to stage the highly
resonant Decembrist revolt.
In some monarchies, such as the United Kingdom, an interregnum is
usually avoided due to a rule described as "The King is dead. Long
live the King", i.e. the heir to the throne becomes a new monarch
immediately on his predecessor's death or abdication. This famous
phrase signifies the continuity of sovereignty, attached to a personal
form of power named Auctoritas. This is not so in other monarchies
where the new monarch's reign begins only with coronation or some
other formal or traditional event. In the Polish–Lithuanian
Commonwealth for instance, kings were elected, which often led to
relatively long interregna. During that time it was the Polish primate
who served as an interrex (ruler between kings). In
Belgium the heir
only becomes king upon swearing before the parliament.
A Papal interregnum occurs upon the death or resignation of the Pope,
though this is generally known as a sede vacante (literally "when the
seat is vacant"). The interregnum ends immediately upon election of a
Pope by the College of Cardinals.
"Interregnum" is the term used in the
Anglican Communion to describe
the period before a new parish priest is appointed to fill a vacancy.
During an interregnum, the administration of the parish is the
responsibility of the churchwardens.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
When the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
dies, the First Presidency is dissolved and the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles becomes the Church's presiding body. Any members of the First
Presidency who were formerly members of the Twelve rejoin that quorum.
The period between the death of the President and the reorganization
of the First Presidency is known as an "Apostolic Interregnum"
FIDE, the world governing body of international chess competition, has
Interregnum periods of having no chess champions, both during
1946–1948 — Men's World
Alexander Alekhine died of
natural causes in 1946.
Interregnum lasted until 1948, when Mikhail
Botvinnik won a FIDE-held chess tournament to decide on a successor.
1944–1950 — Women's World
Vera Menchik killed in an
World War II
World War II in Britain in 1944.
until 1950, when
Lyudmila Rudenko won a FIDE-held chess tournament to
decide on a successor.
The events of Isaac Asimov's
Foundation Trilogy take place during the
galactic interregnum in his Foundation Universe, taking place in the
25th millennium. Foundation begins at the end of the Galactic Empire
and notes in the novels from the
Encyclopedia Galactica imply that a
Empire follows the 1000 year interregnum.
In John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's works, the disappearance of the King
Gondor is followed by a 968-year interregnum (the Steward
The Old Kingdom Trilogy takes place after 200 years of interregnum,
where the reigning Queen and her two daughters were murdered by
Kerrigor, 180 years of regency first and 20 years of anarchy following
the death of the last Regent.
The Vlad Taltos series is set in a fantastical world of magic, at a
time directly following a 250-year interregnum wherein traditional
sorcery was impossible due to the orb being destroyed.
In the world of the Elder Scrolls, there was an
Interregnum in the
Second Era when the Second Cyrodillic
Empire collapsed. It led to just
over four centuries of bickering between small kingdoms and petty
Interregnum ended when Tiber Septim, or Talos, formed the
Empire after a decade of war.
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Argentina presidential transition
United States presidential transition
^ On the Way Out:
Interregnum Presidential Activity
^ "Responsibilities and Duties of the Churchwarden".
www.churchwardens.com. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
^ Moore, Carrie A. (2008-01-30). "LDS leadership succession plan
well-established". Deseret News. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
Giorgio Agamben's State of Exception (2005)
Ernst Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies (1957).
Koptev, Aleksandr. “The Five-Day
Interregnum in The Roman
Republic.” The Classical Quarterly 66.1 (2016): 205–21.
Theophanidis, Philippe “
Interregnum as a Legal and Political
Concept: A Brief Contextual Survey”, Synthesis, Issue 9 (Fa