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A Child Shall Lead Them

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"Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!"

Youthful rulers are common in literature and history. If children, they are depicted as adorable; if in their teens or twenties, they simply create a sense of awe and protectiveness in their older advisers. Their naive simplicity may in fact make them good (and sometimes ruthless) rulers, as they prefer to cut through the red tape of court etiquette.

Because of their youth and inexperience, they are often underestimated by the villains, who are frequently Evil Uncles/Chancellors/Princes who were responsible for the assassination of the previous ruler, are currently in control, and do not intend to give it up. If the Queen Mother is regent, she is likely to over-control the young monarch and be unwilling to put down her power, though she is less likely to be actively evil.

They usually exhibit great wisdom in the course of the story, thus justifying their enormous power despite their youth. They may have friends (or adventures) among the servants or guards, giving them an insight into the lives of their subjects that their stuffy courtiers would scorn. They may have to resort to King Incognito to get anything done. Rebellious Princesses sometimes become good examples of this trope.


The Trope Namer is a line from The Bible, specifically Isaiah 11:6 ("...and a little child shall lead them.").note 

Compare Royal Brat and Young Conqueror. The Wrongful Heir to the Throne or the Evil Chancellor etc. may actively try to encourage this, and the young ruler must shake them off. The corporate version of this is the Grade-School C.E.O., the petty leader Young and in Charge. If the entire government is children, not just one ruler, you're looking at a Teenage Wasteland.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Manaphy probably has a more complex variant of this trope than you think in Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, Despite the popular belief, Manaphy isn't technically royalty at all. Many humans in the Pokemon world called Manaphy "Prince of the Sea", because it was a rare Pokemon.
  • Bleach:
    • By Soul Reaper standards, Toshiro Hitsugaya is a young teenager and looks like it. This did not stop him from becoming a very competent captain of the Tenth Division.
    • Yachiru Kusajishi is a literal kid who somehow ends up with the office of lieutenant of the Eleventh Division. This is because the division adheres to Asskicking Equals Authority and no one except for Kenpachi Zaraki is stronger than her. She is later revealed to be the true form of Kenpachi's zanpakuto, however, which makes this a subversion.
  • By the end of Code Geass the world's power is wielded by three teenage girls:
    • Tianzi, godhead-empress of China. She's just 13 years old and starts out as mix of puppet empress and Lonely Rich Kid, therefore her bodyguard Li Xingke's ultimate goal is to give her the influence and power she needs to truly rule. He succeeds with help of Lelouch.
    • Kaguya Sumeragi, head of the influential Sumeragi House, High Chairman of the UFN and Japan's representative on said council despite being vaguely 14 or thereabout.
    • Nunnally vi Brittannia, who rules Britannia as its 100th Empress.
    • Apparently the Europeans didn't want to be left out, because post-series supplemental material shows that they're also ruled by a teenage girl.
    • Lelouch. Before he turned 19, he already had started the world's largest revolution and took over half of the world. After he lost that half due to betrayal by his subordinates, he then proceeded to take over the other half, then went back and re-conquered the first half. As an eighteen year old, he was the first man to ever rule the entire world. He then proceeded to bring about the first era of true world peace by ordering his own death, at the hands of his equally young Dragon under the mask of Zero, thus leaving the path clear for Nunners becoming the Empress and with said dragon as a prospect Mysterious Protector.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, being born with silver hair and rainbow colored pupils inspired Doma's parents to groom him as a cult leader from childhood, his natural unique appearance made others believe he was divine, this idea perpetuated by Doma's parents allowed them to feed the notion that people would lead happy resourceful lives by just worshipping Doma, in their Eternal Paradise Cult.
  • Trinity Blood features two examples: His Holiness Alessandro XVIII, 399th Pope of Rome; and Seth Nightroad, Eternal Empress of the Methuselah Race. The former is respected by his citizens despite being a highly indecisive young boy; the latter is Really 700 Years Old but rules through a proxy so as to hide her child-like appearance.
  • Queen Mashiro of My-Otome is a Royal Brat at first, but becomes this after learning her lesson at the tender age of 14.
  • Integra in Hellsing started running the agency when she was still a young child. It helped that she also awakened Alucard.
  • The Dark King Ixpellia from StrikerS Sound Stage X. The fierce, tyrant king of the Garea empire during the time of Ancient Belka. Oh, and she's a little girl in both appearance and personality, if not actual age.
  • Naruto:
    • Gaara was elected as Kazekage of his village at some point during the time skip and by Part II, he is still 15 years old. In fact, he is criticized (and even ridiculed) by some of the other kages for his age, inexperience, and idealism. It's even mentioned that because of this, other leaders may refuse to take him seriously. Though in this case, Gaara is currently proving himself Wise Beyond Their Years as well as giving the other kages an armor-busting inquiry and he's getting more respect now.
    • Subverted with the Fourth Mizukage, Yagura Karatachi, who looks like a young teenager and is mistaken by Naruto to have died young. He is actually baby faced.
  • Tsunayoshi Sawada from Reborn! (2004) is chosen to be Boss of the most powerful Mafia family in Italy at only 14 years old. Likewise, his fellow boss Uni, who is even younger.
  • Shangri-La has Kuniko Hojo become the Rebel Leader of the Metal Age group, at eighteen, while she still has the body of a child. She might have done it earlier had she not been in jail for two years before the series due to being a domestic terrorist.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh!:
    • The protagonist, Yuuri Shibuya becomes the ruler of the Great Demon Kingdom at the age of fifteen.
    • And lets not forget Small Shimaron's illustrious boy king, Saralegui.
  • Emperor Hotohori or Saihitei of Fushigi Yuugi is 17 years old at the time the series begins and the ruler of the Konan empire.
    • Don't forget his son Reizeitei or Boushin, whom we see ruling when he's as much 10-12 years old.
  • One episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex featured an improbable 12-year-old leader of a terrorist group, who went missing years ago after being captured by the same terrorists and seemingly hasn't aged a day. And then it turns out that she's not the original kidnapped girl, she's her daughter and the real girl has aged far more than she should have and now looks like her grandmother.
  • Kimba the White Lion has the title character inherit his father's kingdom while still a cub after his parents died.
  • Gundam has a couple of these:
    • In Zeta Gundam and Gundam ZZ, the official leader of Axis/Neo-Zeon is Mineva Lao Zabi, seven year old sole survivor of the Zabi family, although it's pretty clear to everyone that her regent Haman Karn is the one with all the real power. In Gundam Unicorn, Mineva is re-introduced to the story as a civilian teenager under the name of Audrey Burne, and it's still unknown if she'll fully take over her heritage.
    • Haman herself was put in charge of Axis at the tender age of 16, apparently because they thought she'd be easy to control. They were wrong.
    • In Gundam Wing, Relena Peacecraft first becomes the sovereign of the Sanc Kingdom at age 15, then later Queen of the World. Though she doesn't hold the latter position for very long, Relena wields very real power while she has it. And by the end of the story she's still working in politics, having become Vice Foreign Minister of the Earth Sphere United/Unified Nation (her father's former position).
      • Endless Waltz has Mariemaia Khushrenada, supposed daughter of Treize Khushrenada, leading her own army to conquer Earth in her preteens, although Dekim Barton is very clearly manipulating her actions and thoughts.
    • In Gundam SEED, Lacus Clyne (16) becomes the leader of her father's resistance movement following his death. By the end of Gundam SEED Destiny, two years later, she's the Chairwoman of the PLANT Supreme Council (same position as her late father). Cagalli Yula Athha (same age) is also the chief representative of the nation of Orb following her father's death.
  • Mina Tepes from Dance in the Vampire Bund was no older than the twelve year old she looks like when the last of the great clan lords murdered her mother and left her the de jure queen of the vampires. Comparatively speaking, even at 400 or so Mina remains quite young compared to the blood-soaked ancients she has to play politics with.
  • The World is Still Beautiful has 12-year-old Livius the Sun King, much to fiancee and female protagonist Nike's shock.
  • In AKIRA, after his awakening from cryogenic stasis levels the city of Tokyo in an apocalyptic explosion, the titular Akira, a six or seven-year-old mutant psychic with powers beyond the world's comprehension, becomes the centerpiece of a fanatical cult empire. Of course, Akira doesn't actually lead them; it's his fifteen-year-old self-declared "prime minister" Tetsuo who calls the shots for him, Akira being essentially mute.
  • Castle Town Dandelion: According to Chapter 23, King Souichirou himself was crowned at 14. As for the main Elective Monarchy premise, since all of the Sakurada siblings are under the age of twenty, this will be the case regardless of who wins the election. This is also mostly true in manga, where the election takes place at Akane's graduation; only Aoi would likely to be above 20, the Japanese age of majority.
  • In episode 2 of Dream Star Button Nose, the king falls ill, naming Button Nose as a temporary replacement. By the end of episode 3, the king has left the kingdom on a trip around the galaxy, making Button Nose's position permanent for the rest of the series.
  • Shoukoku no Altair: Kemal is only 10 when he becomes Sultan of Balta, and his teenage sister acts as regent until he is old enough to rule by himself.
  • In Aruosumente, Emperor Artian was very young when his father died and when he inherited the throne. In the present time of the story, he is still little more than a teenager.
  • Helena from Nurse Angel Ririka SOS is ruler of the planet Queen Earth however doesn't seem much older than the ten year old Ririka. Considering we never see any relatives besides her sister, it's likely Helena's parents are deceased.
  • Dragon Ball Super goes to the ultimate extreme: Zen'O (literally, "king of everything") is the absolute ruler of the entire multiverse, with enough power to unmake all of reality at a whim, and has the personality (and stature) of a small child. All he really wants to do is play, and he befriends Goku because he's the only known being who isn't painfully polite to him all the time. Then the Universe Survival Arc happens and proceeds to tear the trope to little bitty pieces by showing what happens when the power to obliterate anything is in the hands of someone like that. Zen'o is a little kid: Kids are Innocent, Kids are Dumb, and above all else, Kids Are Cruel.
  • Subverted in Saga of Tanya the Evil: at the tender age of eleven, Tanya Degurechaff is the leader of a battalion of Mage Marksmen and one of the most respected (and feared) members of the Fatherland's military. Little does anyone know, she is actually the reincarnation of a Jerkass Salaryman who is in her current predicament as a result of dissing God, whose intact memories of his previous life and willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve his own ends makes him/her a force to be reckoned within the military.
  • Episode 10 of the 1980s Astro Boy anime features a variation. A country elects a Robot Kid as their president, largely due to robots wanting to see a fellow robot as president. Being a robot though, he can't physically age.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, it's revealed that Aogiri Tree was established around thirteen years ago with Eto Yoshimura (One-Eyed Owl) and her small band of ghouls that grew considerably enough to impose a threat to the CCG and V. Calculating her revelation to her associates about her true identity as The Leader instead of being an executive during the sequel, Eto was around 14 years old when she established her organization at the same time she became a novelist under the pen name Sen Takatsuki.
  • The first Guildmaster of Fairy Tail was Mavis Vermilion, a thirteen-year old prodigy during the year X686. She proves her worth as both a skilled illusionist and a master tactian, which proved valuable during the Second Guild War and the war between Fairy Tail and the Alvarez Empire.
  • This is deconstructed brutally in Akame ga Kill!. Emperor Makoto, who is not even in his teens, is nothing more than a easily fooled child being manipulated by Prime Minister Honest, his evil and hedonistic uncle. Even though he has no clue what Honest's machinations are doing to his kingdom, he's still blamed — and eventually executed by the Revolution — because of this. Painfully, Makoto is a genuinely kind kid who's too naive to see how evil Honest truly was.

    Audio Plays 
  • In The Princess Thieves, Queen Victoria flees Britain, leaving her estranged granddaughter, Princess Gwendoline as the heir to the British throne, which is currently held by her regent, the Duart Archduke of Buckingham.

    Comic Books 
  • Jenny Sparks, leader of The Authority, died with the 20th century; her successor, Jenny Quantum, was soon born and adopted by the team's Official Couple. Eight years later, after everything had gone to hell in a handbasket, little Jenny Quantum got sick of watching the adults screw it up: she aged herself to 14, reassembled the team and has led them ever since.
  • Prez (1973) depicts Prez Rickard, the first 18-year-old President of the United States. He's Wise Beyond His Years and a staunch opponent of the political machine.
  • Prez (2015) features Beth Ross, a teenage girl elected president by Twitter in 2036.
  • The Sandman #54 has a story-within-a-story about Prez Rickard that takes his noble qualities up to eleven. He does a perfect job for eight years, creates a golden age of peace and prosperity, and resists the temptation of Boss Smiley. Then he walks the earth until he dies and moves on.
  • Robin Series: Tim's classmate Danny is brought in against his will to be the new leader of Kobra due to a birthright.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In two of the Wonder Girl imaginary tales Diana meets young magical princesses who are the rulers of their own magical lands due to their queen mothers being missing.

    Fan Works 
  • A Child Shall Lead Them (Transformers): Swoop the Dinobot becomes Prime instead of Hot Rod. Dinobots are canonically younger than the rest of the Autobots (at the time of the 1986 movie, they are twenty years old as opposed to millions of years), and the author's interpretation of the Dinobots gives them a younger mental age than the rest of the Autobots as well. For this reason, Swoop (aka Pterodactus Prime) qualifies for this trope.
  • This trope is obviously the case with Pevensies in any Golden Age The Chronicles of Narnia fic as it is what happens in canon, but Carpetbaggers is an especially interesting case because in the fic, most Narnians — having never seen a human before and being smaller than humans — don't even realize that the Pevensies are, in fact, children.
  • InThe AllSpark Changed My Life, a Transformers fanfic , the OC of Alison Witwicky- a girl from 'reality' who has essentially taken Sam's place in the franchise- is nominated by Optimus Prime to act as the human leader of the Autobot/human organisation COTA, albeit with Will Lennox as the military leader and a series of advisors available to her. Justified in the storyline even when the characters are unaware of her advance knowledge as she has already shown her heroism when she merged with the Allspark, allowing her to see both the human and Cybertronian sides of various issues, and Ironhide himself observes that Optimus became a leader at the equivalent of Alison's age back on Cybertron.
  • In Mosaic, an Code Geass Alternate Universe Fic , Suzaku becomes Emperor of Japan at ten years old after his father is murdered by Chinese assassins.
  • Forum of Thrones:
    • After the death of Alester Arryn, his young son Ronnel is his heir and technically King of Mountain and Vale. However, due to him being a mere child, his mother Sharra rules in his stead, as Queen Regent.
    • Years before the story, when she was only fifteen, Kyra Greyjoy commanded a force of grown men on their raid to Bear Island, where she fought against Worland Mormont, the Lord of Bear Island and renowned warrior.
  • In Sotto Voce: After the sudden murder of her father, Zelda is forced to become queen at only sixteen. She may hold the Triforce of Wisdom, but she's still an inexperienced teenager dealing with more than she can handle. To cover this up, she begins masking her emotions, but this just makes her come off as cold.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Empress Mercury of the Avatar Isles. When she gets her own lands, she becomes this, as she's 15, and so, not an adult.
  • Ash and Petals: Deconstructed. Azula is made Fire Lord at only fourteen (and during war times at that). It does not help her already poor mental state taking such a role at her young age.
  • Son of the Sannin:
    • Both Ino and Hinata lost their fathers when they were 8 and have replaced them as the official heads of their respective clans by the time they turned 16 (the latter's mother acted as the leader in the interim and continued in an advisory capacity afterwards).
    • Kurotsuchi succeed her grandfather as Tsuchikage at the age of 18, which becomes a major issue for her due to the Kage summit happening almost immediately after her inauguration with no time for her to grow into the role.
  • Raised by Jägers: Radovan Heterodyne, aged ten, was left with the Jaeger Generals while his father was busy with something. Radovan led a raiding party all the way up to Warsaw.
    Footnote: "Well, at least he didn't cause any real trouble," had been Lord Heterodyne's reaction when he received this report, before casting his attention back to his experimental musical guinea pig assassins.
  • Ma'at: Djer is the Pharaoh, "perhaps five or six years old", of Egypt, and his mother Iti is his Queen Regent until he is of age.
  • Utopia Unmade: Reika/Cure Beauty is only 16, yet she's already queen of the Precure Kingdom.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: As revealed in chapter 26, Queen Scolopidia was the equivalent of a teenager when she had to take the throne for her hive, and is still adjusting.
  • Chasing Dragons: After Rhaegar dies from his wounds following the Battle of Tara, the adolescent Viserys becomes the king of the Targaryen court in exile. With the likes of Arthur Dayne and Rhaegar's father-in-law Donys Ratheon acting as regents for the first several years of his reign, Viserys learns how to be a proper ruler, and truly comes into his own when he reaches his majority.
  • Ships Ahoy!: Invoked in Part One. When Oprah visits Portugal, she is caught up in heated political conflict between the reigning queen, Pia, and Senhor Saldanha, the ruler of another country, the latter of whom refuses to cooperate with the former. To make him cooperate, Pia decides to fake her own death and state in her will that she wishes Oprah to become the new ruler in her place as Queen Oprah I of Portugal. The gambit ends up working and pays off at a Parliament session, where Oprah recites things about country borders in African colonies that she doesn't understand nor care about just to toy with Saldanha, which causes him to tell the king of Portugal that he won't stand for a ruler who is nothing more than a child that doesn't know what they're talking about. He eventually concedes and decides to work with Pia upon learning that she isn't actually dead, and Oprah transfers her power as queen back to her.

    Films — Animation 
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Vanellope von Schweetz, the nine-year old Princess and later President of Sugar Rush, a racing video game.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars: Queen Amidala of Naboo, as shown in The Phantom Menace, who was aged fourteen (and may have been even younger when first elected). In Attack of the Clones, she mentions that she was not the youngest Queen in Naboo's history, showing that this is an enforced trope.
  • Idiocracy: In the future, the Secretary of Energy is in his early teens. Things like this happen when you give out Cabinet positions in a contest, though he didn't seem any worse at his job than anybody else... although when the population at large is composed of idiots, this isn't too difficult.
  • Tropic Thunder. The heroin ring was run by a little kid, who was as ruthless as you'd expect a leader to be, and far more capable in combat than one would expect.
  • RoboCop 2, very similarly, has a preteen end up in charge of a Nuke ring.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: The Maharaja is about twelve.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: In the film (but not the books), the leaders of Magrathea are young children.
  • Wee Willie Winkie: She isn't a queen or anything, but little Shirley Temple manages to get warring British and Afghan factions to make nice to each other and make a peace, just with the power of her cuteness.
  • The Climax: The King appears to be about 10. (He was played by Scotty Beckett who was 14 at the time, but looks much younger).

  • In Animorphs, Hork-Bajir are a race of Noble Savages who are generally about as smart as a human toddler, except for "seers", genetic abnormalities with above-average human intelligence. Toby, the first free Hork-Bajir born in generations, is a seer, and none of her people question her leadership of the tribe. And note that Hork-Bajir age faster than humans, so even by the end of the series, she's just reaching adulthood at 2-3 Earth years.
  • The Beast Player: Halumiya ascended to the throne at only five after the deaths of her mother and grandmother.
  • After Emperor Justinian was blinded in a coup attempt a third of the way through The Belisarius Series, Empress Theodora avoided a succession crisis (by law, emperors must be whole in body) by adopting the eight year old son of her best friend (who, incidentally, also happened to be the stepson of the Roman Empire's best general) and putting him on the throne. Of course, setting herself up Empress Regent and naming her husband Grand Justicar were not to be sneezed at.
  • In Harry Harrison's Bill the Galactic Hero novel, the fleet admiral is an infant. His unintelligible utterings and cries are "translated" by his nannies into orders. No wonder the humans are having such a hard time beating foot-tall lizards. Then again, that entire universe runs on the Rule of Funny.
  • In Guilty Pleasures, the first book in Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, a cruel and tyrannical child ruler, known as Nikolaos, serves as master vampire of the city, though she is technically one-thousand-years-old. She reflects a villainous version of Mina Tepes, the ancient child-bodied master vampire from Dance in the Vampire Bund (mentioned in 'Anime').
  • In Stephen King's "Children of the Corn", the group is led by then-nine-year-old Isaac.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia primarily have the Pevensie siblings who lead Narnia's Golden Age starting when they were 13 (Peter), 12 (Susan), 10 (Edmund) and 8 (Lucy). Likewise, Caspian is 13 when he takes the throne.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy, Thorby is the child ruler of an inter-Galactic mega-corporation, displacing a regent who is (secretly) unwilling to hand over power, then going incognito to get things done, etc.
  • Evading this is part of the background if the Codex Alera series, as Tavi's status as heir to the throne of First Lord is deliberately hidden for as long as possible to give him time to develop the skills he would need as ruler. By the time he learns his true name is Princeps Gaius Octavian, he's already had a full education at the most prestigious university in the nation, trained as a spy and assassin, and commanded a field army against impossible odds fighting an immense army of centuries old, two-meter tall wolfmen and won. By the time he's in a position to lead, he's managed to reach his mid-twenties.
  • Conqueror: Xuan at the end of Lords of the Bow is proclaimed Emperor of the Chin at the age of seven, after Zhi Zhong murders his father.
  • Cradle Series: Queen Sha Miara of the Ninecloud Court is one of eight Monarchs in the world, and is still a child. This leads to a lot of questions, as Monarchs are by far the most powerful people in the world, and it typically takes them centuries to earn that power. A brief view of the Ninecloud Court in the epilogue of Underlord makes it clear that Sha Miara isn't merely pretending to be a child, she really is one, and it takes her court a lot of effort to keep her whims in check.
  • Royina Iselle from The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold is all of sixteen years old when she succeeds to the throne.
  • At the end of Deltora Quest series one, Lief of Del takes the throne. He's sixteen, and thinks more with his heart than with his brain... and yet, because the books were inspired by JRPGs of the mid-1990s, this ends well. He grows over the story to understand that there is a time and place for emotions to rule. He thinks with both his heart and his clever mind. And, by the end of the series, he's 18 and has learned even more about evil, temptation, and duty.
  • In Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series, Kelson Haldane inherited the throne at the age of thirteen and was crowned the day after his fourteenth birthday. Also, King Javan Haldane, from the prequel series. Too bad he has an Evil Chancellor.
  • Several characters in Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series, all female. Saan-Kakja, the Queen of the Fil-pin Islands, fairly quickly let her advisors know that she is the one who makes decisions on the isles despite her young age. Safir Maraan, the Orphan Queen of B'mbaado, also became a ruler of her city at a young age but remains not only a beloved queen but also a very capable warrior and general. Princess Rebecca Ann McDonald becomes the Governor-Empress of the Empire of New Britain in her early teens after her parents are murdered by a bomb planted by Lord-High Admiral McClain's people. One of her first acts as sovereign is to order the public execution of McClain, at the same time making radical changes to her nation's policies.
  • Downplayed in Jules Verne's Dick Sand, A Captain at Fifteen. Dick Sand, a fifteen-year-old sailor at a whaler ship, is forced to become captain when the rest of the crew dies trying to hunt one whale and he is the only one in the ship with sailing experience. Deconstructed when the ship's cook uses Dick's inexperience and that of the improvised crew to take the ship to Africa and enslave everyone.
  • Discworld:
    • The Boy Emperor of the Agatean Empire in Mort, who successfully poisons his Evil Chancellor and former tutor with the dish the chancellor prepared for him ("I had a good teacher."). Apparently later killed by his uncle, the Royally Screwed Up emperor in Interesting Times.
    • Teppic is still a teenager in Pyramids (just graduated from the Assassins-Guild) when he ascends to the throne of Djelibeybi.
    • Coin from Sourcery was ten years old when he asserted his power, becoming de facto ruler of the world for a time.
    • The Abbot of the History Monks in Thief of Time, although he does remember his past incarnations. Unfortunately, because The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, his sage utterances are frequently interrupted by cries of "WANNA BIKKIT!"
  • Dune:
    • Paul Atreides.
    • His father Leto Atreides became Duke at 14 after the death of his father Paulus in a bull-ring. He rules justly and fairly. His first order of business? Banish his mother, who plotted to kill her husband.
    • Paul's children technically inherit the throne shortly after being born, but their aunt Alia rules as regent until Leto II seizes control when he's about 12.
  • Duumvirate is absolutely packed with these, from the titular characters to lower-level Illuminati.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: Though she's only twelve, Obritsa was declared the Queen of Kirvaya by the Magisterial Council. Justified in that the vote was rigged in favor of Obritsa, who had been raised by the human revolution to become the next queen.
  • The entire point of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is to train Andrew "Ender" Wiggin (who is a six-year-old boy at the start of the novel) to command humanity's forces in a Bug War. Apparently, Ender's older brother Peter and sister Valentine are just as smart as him, but they don't appear to have the qualities the fleet requires. Peter has all the makings of a serial killer (he psychologically tortures Ender and Valentine and dissects squirrels while they're alive), and Valentine has too much empathy for war. While Ender is at Battle School, Peter convinces Valentine to help him take over the world in order to prevent another world war, which is sure to start as soon as the buggers are defeated. They create online personalities called Locke (Peter) and Demosthenes (Valentine), which argue competing points with the eventual goal of having Locke having so much influence he can write policy for the entire world. By that point, the truth that they're really children will be known, but no one will care. And yes, this is exactly what happens. A short war breaks out after Ender beats the buggers (before he's 16), and Peter manages to stop it and is made Hegemon of Earth shortly after. Valentine's (or rather Demosthenes's) writings are still read and discussed thousands of years later. Oh, and Ender also manages to inadvertently start a new religion before he's 20.
    • It's not just Ender either; all of Battle School is made up of genius children being trained to be commanders of the fight against the Buggers. Several of the former Battle School students end up in positions of high power; Virlomi becomes the "Goddess" of India, Han Tzu becomes Emperor of China, Fly Mojo becomes leader of the Philippines, Alai becomes Caliph (though he's at least particularly a Puppet King), Bean Delphiki becomes Peter's right-hand man and helps him bring about the unity of the world, Petra Arkanian also works with Peter to bring about world unity and leads Armenian troops during the civil war on Earth and Suriyawong is given control of planning for the Thai Army and becomes Bean's ally and works along with Peter. The fervor they attract is so much that Peter convinces most of them to leave Earth just to avoid the inevitable conflicts they bring about, and even then it's with the promise of a colony, so they end up ruling in space as well.
  • In The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King, Evil Chancellor Flagg assassinates the king and frames the elder prince, ensuring that the crown would pass to the less competent and more malleable younger prince.
  • In Graceling Realm, Bitterblue is about ten when she's crowned Queen of Monsea.
  • Greystone Valley has a 12-year-old girl serving as the land's main defense against an evil warlord.
  • In the Honor Harrington spinoff novel Crown of Slaves, 17-year-old Berry Zilwicki, posing as Princess Ruth Winton of Manticore, becomes the leader of a group of former slaves. By the time the deception is revealed, no one cares. The full version of the trope is barely averted, as her coronation as Queen Berry of Torch takes place shortly after her 18th birthday.
  • The Kid Who Ran For President by Dan Gutman is a Deconstruction; when the 12-year old protagonist wins the election, he resigns on the spot and delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to America:
    "I have a question for the grown-ups of America: Are you out of your minds? Are you expecting me to enforce the Constitution? I never even read it. I was absent from school that day. You want me as commander-in-chief of the armed forces? What if somebody attacked the United States? Would you really want me in charge? America must be in really bad shape if you elected me President. You better get it together and find some qualified people to run this country or we'll all be in big trouble."
    • In the sequel, The Kid Who Became President, he changes his mind and, as the title suggests, becomes the President of the United States. The deconstruction becomes even more poignant than the first, as he does a fairly terrible job until the end when he manages to avert a war using a video game. Afterwards, he again resigns, leaving his adult vice-president to become President in his stead.
  • Princess Ozma of the Land of Oz, who's roughly the same age as Dorothy (ten or thereabouts), is the benevolent dictator of what is essentially an empire made of four large countries and a city-state.
  • In the Liavek series, the Levar (hereditary ruler of the city-state) is ten years old in the first book, with all real power held by her regent.
  • Aragorn II, son of Arathorn, inherited the leadership of the Northern Dûnedain at the age of 2 when his father was killed by wolves in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. This is especially notable given that the Kings of Gondor and Arnor and their descendants (including Aragorn) normally live for well over a century and most do not even inherit the throne until they are over 100. Aragorn became King of Arnor (a somewhat empty title) at age 2 — which is the trope played completely straight — but he didn't become King of Gondor as well until he was around 90 ... which is perhaps not exactly a "child", but still relatively young by Gondorian standards. He proceeded to rule the (re)combined Kingdom for another 120 years after that.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Mad King, the boy king had been imprisoned for ten years as he had lost his wits. His uncle, appointed Regent, said so.
  • Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded: At the end of the book, Chantel is made the new queen of Lightening Pass, and Franklin is the new leader of the Sunbiters.
  • The Childlike Empress from The NeverEnding Story appears to follow this trope, but in fact, she is the oldest being in Fantastica, as old as imagination itself, and her childish appearance being just as her name shows.
  • At the end of The Obsidian Trilogy, we get the electoral version of this trope. After Arch-Mage Lycaelon Tavadon of Armethalieh resigned more or less in disgrace and what was left of the city's high council proved unable to agree on a successor from their ranks, a conclave of the all the mages in Armethalieh elected Cilarnen Volpiril Arch-Mage for both his valor in facing the demonic forces that nearly destroyed the city and his vast experience in dealing with the outlanders whose help was needed to restore Armethalieh's devastated lands. Cilarnen might have reached 19 at this point.
  • In Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure series: Traz. The nomad tribes' nominal leaders are generally teens or pre-teens—probably so the priests, who are the actual leaders, can have an easier time.
  • Happens quite often in A Practical Guide to Evil, when young Named ascend to positions that would otherwise be unattainable due to their age. Examples include:
    • Catherine, the Squire, who leads an army starting at the age of 16 and later becomes queen in all but name at age around 18,
    • Kairos Theodosian (the Tyrant) murders his predecessor and becomes king at age 13.
  • Michael Karl in Andre Norton's The Prince Commands ascends to the throne of a Ruritanian kingdom at the age of eighteen. When Ulrich Karl, his alleged dead cousin, shows up so that Michael Karl is not the heir, he's an even better example.
  • In The Psalms of Isaak, the Crimson Empress, ruler of The Empire of Y'Zir, is eventually revealed to be a toddler. Of course, though she's greatly revered by her people, she's not actually in charge of anything yet; Regent Eliz Xhum is the guy who actually runs the government. Oh, and the Empress' father, the immortal Wizard King Ahm Y'Zir, is still around too, but while he's revered as a living god by his followers, the fact that he's a senile, insane cyborg means he has little to do with actually running the empire he founded these days.
  • In Redouln Rising, Riley Bank and his fellow Redoulnite Leaders of the new generation rule over the kingdom of planet Redouln.
  • The Reynard Cycle: After the death of his father, Prince Lionel is named king at the ripe old age of three. He is murdered before he can turn ten. Next in line for the throne? A four-year-old-girl.
  • Gorath from The Riftwar Cycle, or more famously the RPG Betrayal at Krondor, becomes tribe chieftain at age twelve, and in subsequent years restores his tribe to strength and avenges their earlier near-massacre. Particularly notable because he's a dark elf, and would normally need to be at least a century old to be considered more than Just a Kid, let alone lead.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko's Seekers of the Sky: In Morning Nears, Marcus is a teenage bastard son of the ruler of the State with no claim to the throne. However, when it becomes clear that he may be the next messiah, everyone around him begins to think of him as their new ruler, which he will be once he gains enough supporters by making miracles. His father will be forced to abdicate.
  • Jenna is only ten years old when she is called to rule over the Castle in Septimus Heap. She doesn't officially become Queen until the last book, though, with former ExtraOrdinary Wizard (and ghost) Alther Mella serving as regent.
  • In Tanya Huff's Sing the Four Quarters, Lady Olinda sets up her nephew to be executed for treason so that she can control the new duc, his five-year-old son. The boy thwarts her in several ways before his father can reappear.
  • Naturally, more often than not Deconstructed in A Song of Ice and Fire. Being a rather realistic medieval Low Fantasy, children have to grow up a lot faster, both physically and psychologically, than in real life with disastrous consequences whenever they have to take positions of authority:
    • Joffrey Baratheon is a spoiled little sadist who is far more interested in using his power to feed his destructive urges than to do any actual ruling. Even before he became king, everyone saw him as a tyrant in the making and feared what he'd be like on the throne; the answer turns out to be "even worse than they ever imagined". He ordered Ned Stark's execution on a childish whim, which went completely against the warnings of his more politically-savvy family. This sparked a civil war which devastated much of Westeros. Eventually, he gets poisoned by his own allies at his own wedding at the age of 13.
    • Robert Arryn is a sickly, stunted boy who becomes Lord of the Vale at age 6 after his father's death. Robert is entirely dependent on his mother and not very likely to live long at all. His step-father and bannermen are all vying for the title of Lord Protector so they can rule in his stead. The death of his mother at the hands of Petyr Baelish leads him to become emotionally unstable and he clings to Sansa as a maternal surrogate, who is 13-years old.
    • Jon Snow is made Commander of the Night's Watch at the age of 17. While he is just as honourable as his father, heroic, and quite a competent leader and strategist for his young age, very few of his older officers respect him. Compounded with mistrust from some due to his young age, his time with the Wildlings, his sympathy for the hardships faced by Wildling men, women, and children, and changes he makes in his efforts to save everyone from the oncoming army of the dead, he eventually gets betrayed and stabbed by a group of his own men and it's left ambiguous whether or not he survives.
    • Likewise, Daenerys Targaryen is a heroic character with the best of intentions and is another teenaged ruler in this series, becoming the young Queen of Meereen. She struggles with rule when she becomes queen, tries to free the slaves, and utilizes some rather extreme methods for the sake of justice, leading to displeasing some around her. An assassination attempt is made on her life and after an incident in the fighting pits, she is believed by many Meereeneese to be dead, but in actuality, she escaped the city on her dragon, Drogon.
    • Robb Stark becomes the King in the North at age 15. Similar to his half-brother Jon Snow, he is honorable like their father, a young leader, competent in rulership for his age, and does his best to do the right thing but ends up displeasing some very important allies when he breaks a betrothal agreement. These allies — some of whom are his own men — betray and kill him in an event known as 'The Red Wedding'.
    • Tommen Baratheon is young, timid, and signs any decree thrown in front of him, making him quite a doormat and easy to manipulate.
    • A few of the Targaryen kings ascended to the Iron Throne as minors:
      • Jaehaerys I was crowned at 14, with his mother serving as regent for the two years before he reached majority; in contrast to many of the above young rulers, his reign was a long and prosperous one, and he himself was well-loved and respected by most.
      • Aegon III became king at only 11, with a council of regents ruling in his name for five years. Deeply traumatized by the events of the civil war that had led to him being the top claimant, he nevertheless survived to adulthood and worked to help the realm recover, though he himself rarely took joy in anything for the rest of his life. Due to his lost childhood, he was noted as seeming much older than his years to many of his subjects.
      • His son Daeron I was 14 when his father died, though he did not have a regency. A charismatic warrior prodigy, his priorities lay solely on conquering Dorne and completing the conquest of the continent that his ancestor had started, leaving most of the work of actually running the kingdom to his uncle. Before he hit 16 he had succeeded in this goal...for about a summer, after which it turned out that a talent for winning land on the battlefield did not translate to diplomatic skill at keeping its people from rebelling. Many thousands of lives were lost trying to reclaim Dorne before Daeron was assassinated only four years into his reign.
      • Daeron's brother Baelor I succeeded him at 17, though by Westerosi standards he was considered an adult.
  • All four books of Fiona Patton's Historical Fantasy Tales of the Branion Realm series feature young royals and sovereigns as protagonists, often leading armies. In the first book, the ruler is 24, and much younger for large parts of the book; his mother took the throne at 25 and led a "Charge of Carnage" at 14. In the second, the ruler is five; her two immediate predecessors both took the throne at age 10. In the third, the ruler is 18 and was twelve when he cunningly poisoned an entire enemy army.
  • Time Out Of Time: Timothy is officially named as the keeper of the market in book 2, "The Telling Stone". However, since he still has a life back home, he leaves Peter as interim keeper while he's away, while still popping in from time to time.
  • Tortall Universe: Happens twice in the Trickster's Duet:
    • In Trickster's Choice, Dunevon Rittevon becomes king of the Copper Isles at about age four, with his tyrannical aunt and uncle acting as his regents. They eventually have him assassinated and take the throne themselves.
    • At the end, the rebels win and put Dovasary Balitang on the throne — she's thirteen. However, she intends to do the actual job, has no regents or puppet-masters, and adulthood is considered to start at sixteen in this setting.
  • The Twelve Kingdoms:
    • Played with. Shushou, the Queen of Kyou, became queen at age 12 to save her ravished lands... 90 years before the story starts. And she still looks like a teenage girl, since she stopped aging after she ascended to the throne.
    • A bit straighter in Youko's case, as she's as much 17 and has just become the Queen of Kei.
  • When Luxa is introduced in The Underland Chronicles, she's eleven, and the Queen of Regalia. She became queen after her parents were killed by rats, but cannot assume full powers of the monarch until she's sixteen.
  • Emperor Gregor in Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga probably counts as well. He became Emperor — though with a Cincinnatus — at age four, took direct power at age twenty, and still had to put up with a handful of hopefuls for Evil Chancellor and pull a King Incognito before settling down to be a Reasonable Authority Figure.
    • Young Miles counts for this in his role as Admiral Naismith, although most of his mercenaries spontaneously decide he is actually older than he appears because of an imaginary "Betan Rejuvenation Treatment."
  • In Warrior Cats: Sign of the Moon, Jayfeather realizes that Half Moon, who isn't yet considered a sharpclaw (an adult cat, to the Ancients), is the rightful cat to lead the Ancients and transform them into the Tribe of Rushing Water, due to her wisdom and her ability to read supernatural signs. The Sun Trail shows that Half Moon is still leader into her old age, and is considered great and wise.
  • Though not as young as most examples, at 18, Egwene al'Vere in The Wheel of Time is by far the youngest ever Amyrlin Seat. Her predecessor had been the youngest at fifty, and many who gained the Seat were several hundred years of age. The women who raised her meant her as a figurehead and referred to her as "the biddable child" in their planning, but she proved to be far more headstrong and savvy than any expected.
  • In The Windup Girl, 23rd century Thailand's current queen is a child - and that's about all we know about her, since she has a regent, or Somdet Chaopraya, ruling in her stead for the foreseeable future.
  • The Witchlands: Vaness has been Empress of Marstok since she was at least seven years old when she brought down a mountain during one of the final battles before the Twenty-Year Truce.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100:
    • Lexa was only sixteen when she became the Grounders' Commander because it's believed the spirit of the previous Commander selected her. She's already been in charge for a while when we're first introduced to her and is somewhere between 20-22, but is considered by Titus to be the greatest of the four Heda's he has served.
    • Clarke becomes a leader to the delinquents, and she remains a leader after the adults come down. By the end of the second season they too see her as a leader.
    • Clarke's adoptive daughter, Madi. After becoming defacto commander before truly becoming the new Grounder commander.
  • Blackadder the Third has a Running Gag about Britain's historical prime minister Pitt the Youngernote ; Blackadder's version is a precocious thirteen-year old. He has a brother, Pitt the Even Younger, who also stands for parliament but fails. Blackadder snarks that Pitt's younger brother might be "Pitt the Toddler" or "Pitt the Embryo."
  • The Anointed One in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Master actually quotes the name of this trope. However, he only takes command after the Master's death, and winds up being little more than a figurehead. He gets killed by Spike with little problem.note 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Mainly averted, a stark contrast to A Song of Ice and Fire. On the show, Robb Stark and Jon Snow are aged up from age 14 in the books to age 17 in the series. Likewise, Daenerys Targaryen is aged up approximately three to four years from her book age of 13, making her around age 16-17 at the start of the series.
      • However, the youth of Robb and Jon is often mentioned, and sometimes, not very favorably. That Robb had his mother around as he tries to lead is a constant source of tension, and when Jon Snow tries to convince the Wildlings to return to Castle Black with him, Tormund admits that Jon is very young to lead.
    • Played straight by King Joffrey — horribly. He's one of the most disgusting characters on the show, and at just 17, is certainly one of the darkest examples of Teens Are Monsters.
    • Averted by Robin Arryn, who despite being the official Lord of the Eeyrie is still quite young and sheltered, leaving the rule to his regents, first his mother Lysa and then his step-father Petyr Baelish.
    • Bran Stark essentially becomes the Lord of Winterfell when Robb leaves Winterfell to fight a war against the Lannisters.
    • After Robert Baratheon had won his rebellion against the Targaryens, he bestowed the title of Lord of Storm's End to his youngest brother Renly, who was only a child at the time. In the novels, Renly was around 5 years old when he became the liege lord of the Stormlands.
    • Played straight on Bear Island, when Brother–Sister Team Jon and Sansa go around recruiting allies to help them take back Winterfell and rescue their brother Rickon. Ten-year-old Lyanna Mormont has become the reigning lady of Bear Island after all her sisters and mother are dead and/or missing due to Robb Stark's campaign. While she does not personally lead her soldiers, she is still present during the battle between the Stark loyalists and the Boltons. During a meeting of the most powerful Northern lords at Winterfell after the battle, she takes charge and shames the Northern lords who are five-to-six times her age who had failed to come to the Starks' aid when they needed them most. She is the first to proclaim Jon Snow the new King in the North.
  • Kid Nation is a reality show where a whole city is run entirely by children.
  • The King's Woman: Like in history, Ying Zheng became king at thirteen.
  • In the Bad Future of the first Legend of the Seeker season finale, the preteen son of Darken Rahl and Kahlan Amnell (who was forced to marry Rahl after Richard's apparent death), is a self-made orphan after executing his mother (for attempting to kill him) and confessing a guard to kill his father. He then proceeds to confess the entire population of D'Hara and beyond, ensuring ultimate loyalty.
  • Nirvana in Fire 2: Xiao Yuan Shi is still just a child when he becomes emperor.
  • Pair of Kings the twin brothers Boomer and Brady are both crowned as kings of an island called Kinkow.
  • Princess Silver: The emperor of Chen is a young boy.
  • The Princess Wei Young: In the epilogue the title character's son becomes emperor when he's at most ten years old.
  • The Rise of Phoenixes: Invoked. Helian Lie puts his youngest nephew, who's only a toddler, on the throne, so he can rule behind the scenes.


    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible provides the page quote. The Trope Namer is an unrelated but famous passage about the Messiah.
    • Judah had several child rulers, such as Joash, crowned at 7, and Josiah, crowned at 8. They were some of the few kings who "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord" Unfortunately, the former went off the rails in his adulthood.
    • While David didn't become king until he was 30, he was Israel's champion and General as a teenager.
  • By most sources, King Arthur was somewhere in the 15-to-18 range when he was crowned High King. The other rulers were not happy.

  • Janus in the Cool Kids Table game Small Magic is destined to find a way to keep the Oni asleep and the world at peace. Maggie and Stege are called upon to protect him during his Journey.
  • Welcome to Night Vale gives us Tamika Flynn, twelve when she let an uprising of children out of the feared Night Vale library, killing a librarian (one of the most feared creatures in the town) in the process. Thirteen now, she has been training an army of children with militaristic precision and the hand of her kill hung around her neck, and appears to be taking the reins against Strex-Corp as of "Missing."

  • In Cabin Pressure, the king of Lichtenstein turns out to be a Bratty Half-Pint with a tendency to threaten to try Off with His Head! on his schoolmates, despite his long-suffering sister Princess Theresa telling him he can't actually do that.


    Tabletop Games 

  • Eberron: Jaela Daran, the 11-year-old head of the Church of the Silver Flame. She started at 6. Note that this is not standard for her position; by all indications, most Keepers of the Flame are called to their task somewhere in their early adulthood, and her predecessor reigned for sixty years. She is specifically the spiritual head of the church; the Council of Cardinals handles the day-to-day business, and Jaela can only offer advice, except in the rare instances where she receives direct orders from the Flame to pass along.
  • Elisabetta Barbados, the 13-year-old Holy Sacred Empress of Abel in Anima: Beyond Fantasy. In fact, she's known as the Child Empress.

  • Shakespeare's Henry VI (also a historical figure) was crowned king at nine months old after Henry V died. This is an instance of a child king being portrayed as wholly negative, as he is too young and unknowledgeable to keep his courtiers from the petty in-fighting. Because he has no father to guide him, Henry stays weak and naive, which eventually leads to the War of the Roses.
    "Henry VI, in infant bands crowned King/Of France and England, did this king succeed/Whose state so many had the managing/That he lost France, and made his England bleed." (epilogue, Henry V)
  • Antony and Cleopatra: Octavius Caesar, though older than most examples, is noted in play by various characters for only being in his twenties and ruling Rome.
  • Westeros: An American Musical: Robb Stark, the King of the North, is explicitly stated to be technically fifteen when made King and to have turned sixteen in the Act II song focusing on him.

    Video Games 
  • The unattainable character Himiko from AkaSeka is a young girl, but is the queen of the Inishie country.
  • Happens often enough in Crusader Kings as rulers often die in battle or from a dagger in the back. In the first game, this could be catastrophic, as children haven't developed their stats yet. In the second game, a regent rules until they are sixteen and become adults.
    • Specifically, The Old God DLC added an event where, if the Shia Caliphate does not exist, a large adventurer-type host might spawn and rebel against a random Sunni ruler. The host is led by a very young (usually between 3 and 6 years old) Sayyid who claims to be the Shi'ite Caliph, now emerging after years of hiding.
  • Diablo III has Hakan II, emperor of Caldeum. He was found as an infant and declared by the leaders of the local religion to be the reincarnation of his predecessor. He is well-spoken for his age and seems to have at least some idea of his duty, despite spending his entire life in a palace. In fact, he's the demon lord Belial in disguise. It's unclear whether a living child ever really existed.
  • Laharl of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. He's only 1313 years old. Quite young by demon standards.
  • Dragon Quest V: Subverted. Prince Wilbur takes over for King James after the latter's death at the ripe old age of 5 and proves to be as competent of a leader as you'd expect a little boy -who ever never wanted to be king for a start- to be, and is clearly just a puppet for his mother. Later on, while he continues to rule, it's pretty clear his brother and advisor Prince Harry's doing most of the work for him.
  • In Drawn: Dark Flight, your ultimate goal is to drive out the shadows over the kingdom so that the child Iris can take her place as rightful ruler.
  • Lord Kalrathia from Dungeon Siege II is a Wise Beyond Their Years ruler of the town that bears his name, despite being in his early teens. At least until he is poisoned by one of his advisors who sympathizes with Valdis.
  • Adulthood in Dwarf Fortress starts at twelve. Since children don't work, they tend to spend a lot of time socializing and making friends. Twelve-year-olds getting elected mayor (determined by friends and social skills) are not uncommon.
    • Memetic Badass Cacame Awemedinade apparently became King of the Dwarves at the age of sixteen. Despite being an elf.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series' backstory, Reman Cyrodiil, the founder of the Second Cyrodiilic Empire, was no older than 13 when coronated. According to the in-game book Remanada, he was still an infant. This proved to be well-justified, as Reman was a Child Prodigy who, along with his status as The Chosen One (having been born possessing the Amulet of Kings), quickly brought both halves of Cyrodiil back together (Colovia and Nibenay) and then the other kingdoms of Men, High Rock and Skyrim.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy Tactics had Princess Ovelia and Prince Orinas, each set up with a regent and sent to lead troops. Ovelia was not quite 18 at the time while Orinas was 2 years old. Though the game kept an active calendar, and with a little grinding, you could age the boy prince into his teens, twenties, or even sixties, thus destroying the story.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, Balamb Garden trains students from the age of 5 to become mercenaries, with several students taking on positions of leadership by the time they reach their late teens. The results of this practice are VERY mixed. It eventually turns out that the reason for this practice is because Edea Kramer knows that Squall will, in his teens, defeat an incredibly dangerous Sorceress from the future, so they have to train these kids into leadership positions at a young age to keep the time loop stable.
    • Final Fantasy IX has Princess Garnet, who turned 16 at the start of the game and by the end, she is ruling her kingdom after the death of her mother. She seems to handle the job quite competently, as it's implied she was able to rebuild her destroyed Alexandria in the span of only a few years.
    • Final Fantasy XII has Larsa Solidor, who was picked to be the next emperor by his dying father because his older brother Vayne was Obviously Evil. Once both his brother and father realize that the Evil Chancellors would try to manipulate him, they decide to have Vayne murder dear old dad and frame the council in order to protect him. Which causes Larsa to not become the emperor until the very end of the game.
    • In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King, you play as a 10-year-old king who took the throne after his father's disappearance.
  • Fire Emblem has several examples:
    • Prince Marth of Altea, The Hero from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, is merely 14 when he is exiled from his country, 16 when he fights in the first war, and by the end of Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, he becomes the king of Archanea as well.
    • One of the rare villainous examples is Prince Julius from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, who at the tender age of 15/16 is pretty much the one holding the power instead of his father, Emperor Arvis. He also directs the horrible child hunts and is the Dragon-in-Chief to Manfroy. And then we have a straighter example in his half-brother and rival Seliph, who at the end of the game becomes a benevolent Emperor at the age of 17/18 - with the help of his somewhat younger girlfriend/wife (if he's paired up) and Julius's more benevolent twin sister, Princess Julia.
    • There's Leif, who at age 15 is the leader of La Résistance in the interquel Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, and then joins Seliph's own group in the second half of Genealogy. If he makes it to the end, he becomes the King of Leonster ( and later, of the New Kingdom of Thracia which includes Thracia and Leonster) and rules peacefully alongside his older sister Altena (who is just 20) and his also-around-16 girlfriend/wife ( his childhood friend Nanna).
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has Sanaki, the 10- to 13-year-old empress of Begnion. Despite her youth, and love of toying with people for her own amusement, she's one of the few good people in the Begnion ruling government, and is perfectly willing to be and capable of being a force to be reckoned with to make sure that the senate of evil aristocrats doesn't go around freely causing misery and atrocious war crimes.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening provides a backstory example in that, while she's an adult now, Emmeryn of Ylisse (A distant descendant of the aforementioned Marth, along with her brother Chrom and sister Lissa) initially became the Exalt before she was even ten years old, after the sudden death of her father in the war against the Grimleal. Technically she was a bit younger than even Sanaki when she started ruling.
    • Played darkly in the "Future Past" DLC maps, which showcase the Bad Future. The Hero Chrom's daughter/Emmeryn and Lissa's niece Lucina (at most 20, if that) is the Exalt now, but she and her friends are fighting a hopeless war against Grima. The team must help them win said war so they can rebuild their Ylisse and earn their happy ending.
    • Fire Emblem Fates has Prince Leo (age not fully stated, but no older than 17), who becomes the King of Nohr at the end of the Hoshido-centered Birthright path, after the deaths of his siblings Xander and Elise. His surviving older sister Camilla should become Queen, but she abdicates on him because she knows Leo is far more fit to reign than her.
  • Prince Roan from Grandia II. Who spends most of his time as a main character in the hero's party and who continues to fight with them even after circumstances have forced him to take the throne.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: The Mad Sun-King Jiran had three sons who could inherit his throne. Jiran killed his eldest Kadaman for speaking out against him, and then his second son Avad raised a rebellion and killed Jiran. But due to Divine Right of Kings, killing the Sun-King tainted Avad in the eyes of many of his people, so they decided to follow Jiran's youngest son, Itamen, instead. They became the Shadow Carja. The idea was that Itamen was a pure vessel, ready to be filled with the Sun's will. Unfortunately, the priests quickly turned Itamen into a Puppet King. When Aloy rescues Itamen and brings him to Avad, it's pointed out that the Shadow Carja have lost what little legitimacy they had, and will be re-absorbed into the Sundom soon. Unfortunately, until that happens, they're still dangerous, and they remain the primary antagonists for the rest of the game.
  • The mechanics of succession in Imperium Nova can cause this to happen. Most notable is Hogan Galle, who became head of house at age five, head of faith at age eight, and emperor of the galaxy at age fourteen.
  • Lord Vitiate in Knights of the Old Republic became the Sith leader at just 12 years old after starting his evil ways at just age 6.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Little King's Story: The basic plot is a boy becoming a king expanding his kingdom.
  • In Long Live the Queen, the age of majority is fifteen, and player character Elodie is abruptly thrust into ruling at the age of fourteen when her mother dies at the beginning of the game. While her father is nominally acting as her regent until she is of age, she is given almost complete freedom to make whatever decisions she wants, and most of the other characters in the game treat her as if she is already queen.
    • Also present in a friend of Elodie's named Gwenelle, who reaches her fifteenth birthday in the second half of the game and inherits her deceased biological father's title. At her birthday party she gets in a fight with her mother, who was previously acting as her regent and wants to remain Gwenelle's adviser, and it's not made completely clear who is in the right; Gwenelle is still very young and has only just come into her title, but in this society she is now a legal adult and is expected to be ruling on her own.
    • Elodie's cousin Charlotte is around Elodie's age and in line for the thrown after her father Laurent, Elodie's uncle. It turns out that her mother Lucille is trying to invoke this by bumping off Elodie and Laurent, thus leaving Charlotte to inherit. It's set up in one ending wherein Elodie absconds from the throne to go be an evil minion, if Laurent was killed before this point, but the nobility rebels against the idea of another underage princess, and civil war breaks out.
  • Deconstructed in Lost Technology. Agnes, the Empress of the Reinald Empire, is only fourteen years old at the start of the story. As a result of her age, she reigns as a puppet to her ministers. Oddly, even though all of her administration is run by her prime minister, she can make a rather effective battlefield commander.
  • In Marco and the Galaxy Dragon, the mayor of Gold Cord is a young girl. She means well, but she's not terribly good at her job.
  • In Medieval: Total War and Medieval II: Total War, it is entirely possible, through extremely nasty bad luck, to end up with a fourteen-year-old king/sultan. This usually only happens if all other eligible faction heirs get killed and the king kicks the bucket, leaving only a young, untested son as the last available option. Alternately, the king could be batty and simply designate the boy as his heir over more eligible options because he's completely nuts. If the king is really nutty, the heir won't be a blood relation but a captain who was adopted as a son after he killed a single-unit company of brigands.
  • In Might & Magic VI, Prince Nicolai, who seems to be only ten years old or so at the start of the game, is the monarch of Enroth, technically, while King Roland is missing. (His advisor, Regent Wilbur Humphrey rules in all but name; Nicolai feels he's in a Gilded Cage where he is and convinces the Player Party to "kidnap" him to let him get out for a while, a major part of the plot.)
  • This is the core plot of Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. The hero, Evan, is a young boy about to ascend to the throne of the kingdom of Ding Dong Dell when there's a coup and he's forced to flee. Rather than try to reclaim his kingdom, he instead decides to found a new kingdom with the aim of bringing the major nations of the world into alliance.
  • The Magius in Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story, with Touka and Nemu are elementary schoolers, and Alina is the only leader who's older than them by five years, but is still a high-schooler and has yet to reach adulthood. Justified since Magical Girls who survived until adulthood is a rarity, and all three of them are Child Prodigy who are Wise Beyond Their Years.
  • Mercedes from Odin Sphere takes up the throne after her mother, the fairy queen, dies from battle. She is quite overwhelmed by her responsibilities early on, but in time grows to be an extremely capable ruler.
  • Prophet Cha Dawn of the Cult of Planet in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.
    • Several shorts by Michael Ely, one of the game's writers, have Cha Dawn being carried into battle on shoulders.
  • Lymsleia is installed as a puppet ruler in Suikoden V. Unfortunately, even though the bad guys keep her aide hostage as leverage, they don't count on her actually exerting her power as Queen.
  • Tales of the Abyss: Fon Master Ion, who is roughly fourteen, is head of the religion that governs the entire world. The predecessor he was cloned from also counts.
  • In Under Tale this is implied with the Fallen Child character you play as well as the king's own adopted child Chara. Asgore asks Frisk to be their ambassador to help human and monster relationships. He may have also planned to do the same with Chara based on what he said on their death bed, "You are the future of humans and monsters..."
  • In the first part of Virtual Villagers, the birth of the Golden Child signals a new era for the villagers, as he guides them to a new area on the island (continuing on the next game).
  • World of Warcraft had Anduin Wrynn lead Stormwind while his father was missing in action. He was assisted by Lady Katrana Prestor and Bolvar Fordragon. While he was indeed the offical ruler everyone knew that he was more or less blatantly controlled by his advisors... And Bolvar usually deferred to Lady Katrana until it turns out that she is Onyxia in disguise and has charmed him (the magical way) to agree always with her opinion.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Emperor Niall of Mor Ardain is just a kid but is still considered a Reasonable Authority Figure whose good leadership and even temper are considered to be primary factors in war with Uraya being averted for so long. He does at least get a lot of guidance from his Blade Aegaeon, his older sister Mòrag, and Mòrag's Blade Brighid. He admits a few times that he feels overwhelmed, though, not least because Mòrag would have been Empress if he hadn't been born.

    Web Animation 
  • OverSimplified: The Han dynasty of China was led by child emperor after child emperor. Their complete inexperience and inability to rule led them to transfer the power to the eunuchs, who then began scheming.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Princess Bubblegum for a few episodes when she is reverted into a thirteen-year-old. Although she is still Really 700 Years Old, her personality regresses along with her physical age.
  • In The Dragon Prince, young Aanya became queen of Duren after the deaths of her mothers. Ezran also becomes king following the death of his father, king Harrow. While Aanya is a competent queen, and perfectly willing to stand up to the older pentarchs, both she and Ezran are still kids. Aanya is implied to have grown up quickly due to being in charge of a Deadly Decadent Court, while Ezran's head councilor is far more kind and understanding, recommending that he appoints a regent until he comes of age.
  • As of the finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, both the fourteen-year-old Azula and sixteen-year-old Zuko have possessed the mantle of Fire Lord. When Zuko is crowned, the comics deconstructs the trope and demonstrate that he is still a teenager who is idealistic to a fault, and the real challenge happens when he's facing opposition, assassination attempts, among other problems.
  • In Babar, the title character is crowned king of the elephants after he saves them all from an evil poacher, while he is still a child. In the books, he didn't become king until he was an adult.
  • Because of the way things work in Codename: Kids Next Door, a child has to be leader of the organization. First in was Numbuh 274 until he turned thirteen (and traitor) and then it was Numbuh 362 for the rest of the series.
  • King: The rulers of Under have typically been children. Whoever moves into the house, goes under the bed in the room to Under, and emerges from the portal above the throne of Under is always made Under's new king.
  • Kion and Rani are both the lion equivalent of teenagers when they become king and queen of the Tree of Life in The Lion Guard. They're both smaller than the adult lions and Kion is just starting to get more of a main than just the red tuft he had as a cub.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Subverted in the season 8 finale. When Twilight and her friends need to travel far away for an emergency, Cozy Glow, Twilight's young assistant, promises to keep the school together without her. Twilight leaves Starlight Glimmer, an adult, in charge instead. Despite Cozy being a Hypercompetent Sidekick, she's still just a child, and no adult would leave her in charge if there were any other choice. Except the whole thing was a trick by Cozy to get rid of Twilight and take over the school. Once she gets rid of Starlight, she forges a note putting her in charge; while most of the students (who Cozy has been cultivating fake friendships with) find this perfectly logical, the Young Six point out how weird it is. And when Chancellor Neighsay shows up, who has always had a problem with Twilight, he takes over the school since clearly any adult who would leave a child in charge should never be in charge themselves. Cozy carefully manipulates the students into rioting against him, once again leaving her in charge.
  • Prince Pyrus of Shadow Raiders rules over an entire planet.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • Queen Moon, Star's mother, was this. When she was around Star's age, Toffee killed her mother, which forced her into the position of queen. When the Magic High Commission, Mina, and Mewni's nobility couldn't decide on their next action, she took it upon herself to forge a contract with Eclipsa for a spell that could kill an immortal, managing to drive Toffee and his forces away from Mewni before promising to scatter them further and kill all their leaders.
    • A brief comment from Eclipsa implies that, due to her own mother's death, she became queen not much older than Moon. Of course, she lost the throne not long after due to the Magic High Commission imprisoning her for her crimes.
    • Star is forced to take the throne near the end of season 3 when her mother goes missing. She is insistent that she is merely acting queen, and that she'll find her mother after the current emergency. For good or ill, immediately after the emergency she gives the throne back to Eclipsa in a moment of guilt.
  • SuperTed once saved a young ruler from an Evil Uncle.
  • In ThunderCats (2011), Thundera's King Lion-O, at seventeen is the youngest of the Blue Bloods in his group of ThunderCats. When Old Soldier Panthro joins, he dryly lampshades their lack of "adult supervision" prior to his arrival, while Lion-O's adoptive brother Tygra makes his age the subject of petty insults.
    Tygra: You may be king, but I'm still older than you.
  • In the old ThunderCats, Lion-O was no older than WilyKat and WilyKit, but a faulty stasis pod allowed his body to age while he slept.
  • Wakfu: Subverted with Yugo himself at the end of Season 2 when he learns that he is the actual King of the Eliatropes, named to this role in his past life by then-current king Chibi before he died and returned to his Dofus to await his next reincarnation (and Chibi himself at this point is only an infant and incapable of leading anyone himself). Despite leading his people against and defeating The Usurper Qilby, both he and the rest of the Eliatrope children acknowledge he's not old or wise enough to be ready for that role. Yugo himself is content to continue to grow older and mature enough both mentally and physically to be the leader they need while the Eliatrope children continue to wait within their time-free pocket dimension for that day to come.
  • 13-year-old Elyon Brown aka Queen Elyon from W.I.T.C.H. becomes this after a brief stint as a Dark Magical Girl.
    • Also Caleb, the 15-year-old Rebel Leader, and Will, the leader of W.I.T.C.H. itself.
  • In the Young Justice (2010) episode "Coldhearted," the ten-year-old girl whose donor heart Wally delivers turns out to be Queen Perdita of Vlatava, and the only one keeping Count Vertigo from the throne.

    Real Life 
  • France's Louis VII (age 11 as junior king, 17 as sole ruler), IX (age 12), XIII (age 9)note , XIV (age 4) and XV (age 5)note . Also Charles VI (age 11), VIII (age 13), and IX (age 10). And to top it off, John I, who became king at birth... and died just five days later.
    • When Napoléon Bonaparte was forced to abdicate his throne as Emperor of the French for the second time in 1815, his 4-year-old son became Napoleon II for 16 days before the Bourbon Dynasty was restored. Since Napoleon II was in Austria at the time, he didn't actually find out that he has briefly been Emperor until years later, though a council ruled in his name for those two weeks. This is why when Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of Napoleon I) declared himself Emperor of the French in 1852 (having spent the preceding 4 years as President of France), he took the name Napoleon III, recognizing the brief and nominal reign of his first cousin in 1815.
  • King Baldwin IV of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem was only 13 when crowned and even then he proved to be an effective leader. At age 16, he gave the Crusaders a decisive victory in the Battle of Montgisar against Saladin, who barely managed to escape. Had he not been a victim of leprosy, perhaps the crusader states would have lasted longer than they did.
  • England's Henry III (age 9), Edward III (age 14), Richard II (age 10), Henry VI (age 9 months), Edward V (age 12), and Edward VI (age 9).
    • When Richard II was 14 years old, he had to deal with the Peasants' Revolt—a mass popular uprising that was something like Communism in England 500 years before Karl Marx. He met the massive peasant army in person, accompanied only by a small royal party, on a field outside of London. He promptly got them all to pledge loyalty to him. After the moment had passed, he broke all the promises he'd made and had all the rebel leaders executed. Some historians think that this helped contribute to the runaway ego and sense of invincibility that got him overthrown by Henry Bolingbroke's revolt of nobles in 1399; other historians have argued that he had actually wanted to keep his promises—later that year he'd floated the idea in Parliament of abolishing serfdom—and that his antagonistic relationship with the nobility had its roots in the fact that they wouldn't let him (after all, he was only fourteen, and the nobles were the primary targets of the revolt).
  • This was a pattern in the Scottish House of Stewart/Stuart during the 15th and 16th centuries, with seven consecutive monarchs coming to the throne in their minority:
    • James I became King of Scots at the age of 12, and in exile, a captive of the English. He was a younger son of the elderly Robert III - his much older brother, David, was captured and probably killed on the orders of their uncle, the Duke of Albany. He remained imprisoned and unmarried until 1424, at the age of 30, and a son was not born until 1430. He was assassinated in 1437, leaving the throne to...
    • James II, just six and a half years old at his accession. He married much younger than his father (at 19) and had seven children, including three sons who survived infancy, the first of whom was born in 1451. However, James II was very warlike and an artillery enthusiast, which resulted in his early death at the age of 29, having been killed by a cannon which exploded as he was besieging an English castle.
    • As a result, James III became King at the age of nine. Less warlike than his father, he also sired three boys, all of whom survived infancy. However, he was unpopular with the Scottish nobility, and he feuded constantly with his two brothers, both of whom enjoyed the support of not only much of the aristocracy but also those meddling English, plunging the country into intermittent civil wars which plagued his later reign. Surprisingly, he held out until 1488, after almost a decade of fighting, before he was finally killed in the Battle of Sauchieburn. By this time, most of the rebels had shifted to supporting his eldest son...
    • James IV, who became King of Scots at the age of 15, the closest any Stewart would come to ascending the throne as an adult in a span of over two centuries. In fact, he assumed personal rule right away, and was a very successful and popular King, today regarded as the first King of the Scottish Renaissance. Although he continued his father's conflicts with England, backing several pretenders to the throne held by Henry Tudor, he eventually agreed to a peace treaty which would see him marrying Tudor's eldest daughter, Margaret, in 1502. The King of Scots was almost 30 years old at this point, and his only child to survive infancy was not born until 1512. By this time, the alliance with England was collapsing as a result of Henry Tudor's more bellicose son (and his own brother-in-law) having succeeded him and declaring war on France in the War of the League of Cambrai. Bound by conflicting treaty obligationsnote , James ultimately chose to support France, and marched his troops into England. The resulting Battle of Flodden Field was a massacre, killing an entire generation of Scottish noblemen, as well as the King himself, the last British monarch to die in battlenote , and the throne passed to...
    • James V, just seventeen months old. His mother, naturally pro-English, briefly served as Regent until she remarried, allowing for more pro-French forces to assume control of foreign policy. Protracted marriage negotiations with the King of France resulted in a short-lived union with his sickly daughter Madeleine, who survived the wedding by only six months. James then remarried to a daughter of the Duke of Guise, but although two sons were born of this union, neither survived infancy. James began warring with England once again in 1541, shortly after his mother's death, and despite some initial victories, he was badly defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss the following year. By this time, he had already fallen ill, and died of what was probably cholera just three weeks later; he had only just learned that his last child, born six days before his death, was a girl, resulting in his famous quote: "it came wi a lass, it'll gang wi a lass" - referring to the House of Stewart's accession to the throne through marriage to a daughter of Robert the Bruce, and how this dynasty would now come to an end by his own daughter's marriage. With no obvious male heirs note , it was ultimately accepted that his daughter would reign as...
    • Mary, Queen of Scots, the youngest monarch in the history of the British Isles, aged just six days at her accession. Her mother, Mary of Guise, was her Regent, and sought to marry her daughter to a French prince; it just so happened that the King's eldest son, the Dauphin, was available. Henry VIII, on the other hand, wanted to marry his grand-niece to his own son and heir, Prince Edward - either way, it seemed likely that a personal union with another, larger and more powerful country was in the cards for Scotland. Henry VIII went to war with Scotland for Mary's hand, in a conflict known as the "Rough Wooing" - ultimately, the Scots won out (the last time they would successfully defend their independence from England) and a marriage with Dauphin Francis ensued. His father, Henry II, died in a jousting accident, and Francis himself became King in his minority, at age 15, in 1559. However, by this time, the Protestant Reformation was sweeping through Scotland, and many Scots disliked the idea of being ruled by the arch-Catholic French. The question was rendered moot by the death of the sickly Francis II in 1560; Mary returned to Scotland and eventually married her cousin, the Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, thus shoring up their mutual claims to the English throne (both were grandchildren of Margaret Tudor, making them the most senior descendants of Henry VII should Henry VIII's line due out), and conveniently securing the Stuartnote  dynasty on the Scottish throne (Lord Darnley being a more distant cousin of the Scots royals in the male line). However, her second marriage was turbulent and, despite the birth of a son, James, in 1566, Darnley was violently murdered the following year. Mary then married her husband's murderer, and the resulting furor led to her forced abdication in 1567. She subsequently fled to England and, just like her ancestor James I, was imprisoned, though she was ultimately executed in 1587. Had she reigned until her death (or longer), her eldest son would not have been an example of this trope, but the way things turned out...
    • James VI of Scotland succeeded his mother as monarch at the age of thirteen months. He was raised with a Protestant education, cementing Scotland as a Protestant state, and unlike most of his ancestors, enjoyed a very long and peaceful reign, avoiding wars as much as he could and ultimately inheriting the throne of England upon the death of his childless cousin, Elizabeth, who was the niece of his great-grandmothernote , Margaret Tudor. This resulted in the Union of the Crowns of England and Scotland which endures to this day. James VI was the first Scottish monarch to make it past the age of fifty since Robert III (who died at 68 in 1390), and he also seems to have broken the curse which resulted in Scottish monarchs coming to the throne in their minority; when James VI (and I) died in 1625, his son Charles was already 24 years old (although, granted, said son had other problems during his own reign). In fact, no subsequent British monarch has inherited the throne before reaching the age of majoritynote .
  • Margaret of Norway was seen by many to be the Queen of Scots from 1286 until her death in 1290. It should be noted that she died at age seven.
  • Joan of Arc was granted command of the French army at the tender age of 16. Under her leadership, the long string of English victories came to an abrupt halt. No wonder the English were so eager to see her removed when she was captured.
  • Egypt's King Tutankhamun, who became Pharaoh when around 8 and died at age 18.
  • Egypt's Pepi II Neferkare (reigned 2278?-2184 BC) came the throne at the age of 6 and died 94 years later (at least according to the historian Manetho). If this figure is right, he's not only the longest-reigning Egyptian monarch but the longest-reigning monarch of anywhere of all time.
    • The exact length of his reign is disputed and was probably "only" 64 years.
    • However long he actually ruled, Harkhuf, governor of the southernmost province of Upper Egypt, is recorded to have written to Pepi that he had found a pygmy during an expedition to Nubia and was planning to send him to the royal court. The king—who was all of about 8 years old at this point—apprently dictated an extremely excited letter to his governor at this news, giving all kinds of instructions about how the pygmy was to be transported to Memphis and how Harkhuf was to be rewarded richly for delivering such a gift to the king. For his part Harkhuf apparently found this missive from the excitable child monarch so cute and adorable that he had the letter transcribed verbatim on the walls of his tomb.
  • In Egypt's modern era, as Farouk I abdicated the throne as King of Egypt and the Sudan, he named his 1-year old son Fuad II as his successor, in the hopes of unifying the country and appeasing the revolutionaries during the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. Since Fuad I was less than a year old at the time of accession and Farouk left the country for Italy, he was never formally crowned, with the Council of Regency led by Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim acting as regent for Fuad II until he came of age. In 1953, the Egyptian revolutionaries formally abolished the monarchy and declared Egypt a republic; as a result, he was the uncrowned King of Egypt and the Sudan in absentia from July 26, 1952, until June 18, 1953, even though his reign was never formally recognized.
  • Elagabalus, emperor of Rome, is perhaps the other side of this trope, doing everything with his power you would expect of a sex-crazed teenager with a short attention span. Hence, a Royal Brat. He was murdered by the Praetorian Guard 4 years after taking the throne at the age of 14.
    • He was subsequently succeeded by his cousin, 14-year-old Alexander Severus. It didn't go well for him either; although he had to all appearances the makings of a wise and just Emperor, he was notably lacking in military prowess, and 12 years later, he also was killed by the Praetorians.
  • Charles XII of Sweden took the throne fairly at 15 and was just 18 years when he won the Battle of Narva (some historians claim his aides deserve more credit for that particular battle, no matter). He was more effective than many young rulers as he was a fairly good Strategist. However, his recklessness and weakness in long-term planning kept him from rising to the level of a Wise Prince.
  • Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire took Constantinople at the age of nineteen. His father Murad II initially abdicated in his favor when he was 12, and when dealing with a Hungarian invasion two years later Mehmed reportedly summoned the more experienced leader out of retirement thus:
    "If you are the Sultan, come and lead your armies. If I am the Sultan, I hereby order you to come and lead my armies."
  • Joan I of Navarre, who became queen of Navarre and countess of Champagne at the age of three.
  • Jadwiga/Hedwig of Anjou, King of Poland. She (that's right, she) became king at the age of ten and became something of a Wise Princess.
  • The future first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi (then known as Ying Zheng, King of Qin), was only 13 when he became the king of the Qin state. After some 20 years of warfare, he carved out a huge empire that remains intact two thousand years later.
  • The last emperor of China, Puyi, ascended the throne when he was three. Child emperors were a favorite political tool for ambitious members of the harem, as they were too young (and spoiled) to rule effectively. The early chapters of Romance of the Three Kingdoms chronicles the (fictionalized) account of such a succession of ridiculously young emperors. However, it is historically true that the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty saw a large number of emperors who ascended the throne as children or teenagers. On the flip side, Emperor Kangxi ascended the throne at the tender age of eight, and his reign was widely considered to be the Qing dynasty's golden era.
    • Emperor Kangxi's father, Emperor Shunzhi was only five years old when he ascended the throne.
    • The final years of China's Qing dynasty saw three very young emperors succeed each other. The first, Yizhi AKA the Tongzhi Emperor, became emperor when he was five. He died when he was eighteen and was succeeded by his four-year-old cousin Zaitian, AKA the Guangxu Emperor. He was murdered when he was thirty-seven and was succeeded by his three-year-old nephew, the aforementioned Puyi.
    • The Xianfeng Emperor, Yizhi's father, became emperor when he was nineteen.
  • This was pretty common in medieval Muslim kingdoms. An atabeg (literally "father-prince" in Turkish, but more like godfather/stepfather) was sometimes appointed to teach and assist a minor on the throne. Eventually, atabeg became a hereditary title roughly equivalent to duke or somesuch. The most famous hereditary atabegs are the Zengids, the rulers of Mosul; they are directly responsible for the Second Crusade (thanks to their pressure on the Kingdom of Jerusalem) and indirectly responsible for the Third (Saladin was their trusted lieutenant who took over Egypt for them; he quickly exploited the fact that the atabeg was a minor (!) to consolidate control over Greater Syria as well.
  • Christina of Sweden became king of Sweden when she was six years old. She took the oath as king, not queen, and was nicknamed 'the Girl King'.
  • In 1867, 14-going-to-15 Crown Prince Mutsuhito took over the reins of Imperial Japan after the death of his father. He would be known in history as the one who started the Empire's renovation (though your mileage may vary on that one)... Emperor Meiji.
    • Actually, many Japanese emperors were like this, such as the eight-year-old Antoku from the Tale of the Heikei. It was practice for hundreds of years to keep very young men on the throne so that the real ruling of the country was left to the members of the Fujiwara clan, serving as regents, who also married their children into the line whenever possible. Many emperors abdicated early and took on more power and authority as "retired emperors" while their younger successors were kept cloistered. And, of course, for about two hundred years during the Warring States period the real power fell to whoever was Shogun just then.
  • The children's crusades, both led by young teenage boys with great expectations. Suffice to say that they didn't turn out so well.
  • Russia's Ivan the Terrible (sixteen at the start of his reign), Mikhail Romanov (also sixteen), Peter the Great (ten) and Peter II (eleven, died at fourteen). The most extreme Russian example is Ivan VI: enthroned at the age of eight weeks, overthrown little more than a month later, imprisoned for the rest of his life, killed nearly a month before his 24th birthday.
  • The Sassanid Empire took this trope to the Logical Extreme when Shapur II became the only known monarch to be crowned in utero. In other words, while his mother was still pregnant with him, a coronation ceremony was held and the crown was placed on her belly, making him the next rulernote .
    • There were two Sassanid empresses, Borandohkt and Azarmidokht, that ruled, albeit briefly, in the 7th century.
  • In 1885, King Alfonso XII of Spain died with no sons, but a pregnant wife. The throne was left vacant until the birth of the baby, which turned out to be a boy who was immediately proclaimed King Alfonso XIII. There was even a debate about whether his reign should be backdated to before his birth.
    • If Alfonso XIII had been female, his oldest sister would have become Queen instead (Alfonso's grandma had been the reigning queen Isabella II) ... maybe. When Alfonso's ancestor came to the throne from France as Philip V, he introduced France's Salic Law to Spain. Isabella II's father needed special and highly controversial legislation to allow her to become ruler in the first place, even though that was the historic practice of Spanish monarchy and its predecessors going back to the Middle Ages (Isabella I being a great example of a powerful woman monarch and Founder of the Kingdom) and probable inspiration for other European monarchies to allow women to rule in their own names (e.g. this seems to be what happened in England when they let first Mary I and then Elizabeth I take the throne; Mary was Isabella I's granddaughter). The ongoing controversy was a major reason for the revolution that eventually deposed her. Making it more of an issue is that while there was a powerful faction in Spanish politics at the time who wanted to make the monarchy into what it basically is today, it was far from certain that they would win.
    • King Carlos II (the Accursed) of Spain was not quite four when his aged father Felipe IV died at 60. That was the least of his problems, and he died at 38 having never held effective power.
  • Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, son of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, became President of Haiti at the age of 19.
  • Dom Pedro II became Emperor of Brazil when he was five years old. Nearly 60 years later, he became perhaps the most popular monarch ever to be overthrown. It's said that the only person in Brazil other than those responsible for the coup who didn't mind was Pedro himself, who'd grown tired of ruling, was unwilling to let his loyal soldiers die to keep him on the throne, and had doubts about whether his daughter Dona Isabal would be accepted as Empress (she'd acted as his regent on 3 different occasions with great competence, but earned the enmity of the same wealthy elites who overthrew her father for having abolished slavery). The citizens were pissed at how he was treated.
  • King Oyo of Toro is a modern-day example. Though he's technically an adult now, he was crowned at age 3 1/2.
  • William the Bastard not only had to deal with becoming the Duke of Normandy at 7 years old, as his name obviously implies, but he was also the bastard son of a tanner's daughter. As such, he dealt with multiple attempts on his line and his title, but he made it into his teens, was knighted by the King of France at 15, and by 19, was routinely seeing off all his rivals on the battlefield. Unlike most child rulers, William achieved great heights, the most notable of course being the defeat of King Harold Godwinson of England and taking the throne himself, thereafter becoming known as William The Conqueror.
  • Sobhuza II of Swaziland ascended to the throne at the age of six months on the 10th of December, 1899, and reigned until his death 82 years, 254 days later, in 1982, making his reign the longest reign of recent history, and the third-longest of all time.
  • Princess Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria of the Netherlands was not even born when her eldest half-brother Willem, Prince of Orange died and was only four when Spare to the Throne Alexander succumbed to illness (incidentally, her mother was younger than either of them). King Willem III passed in 1890, leaving the throne to her when she was ten.
  • Between the end of the Thirty Years' War and the start of The Napoleonic Wars, the Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück was alternately appointed by the Catholic Archbishop-Elector of Cologne and the Protestant Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. The last ruler, Friedrich Augustnote , was appointed in February 1764 by Duke Georg Wilhelm Friedrichnote ... and was born in August 1763.
  • Ladislaus Postumus/Ladislav Pohrobek/Utószülött László/Ladislav Posmrtni, King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria, was another case of someone declared ruler at birth due to the premature death of his father/predecessor and the Hungarian estates elected him King four years later once his rival Ulászló got killed. His death from leukemia at 17 meant he never stopped qualifying as this.
  • At the age of 10, Ptolemy XIII became co-ruler of Egypt with his 18-year old sister Cleopatra VII, as well as being formally married to her. It didn't last long; after less than six months she ousted him from power entirely, though he did make a brief comeback three years later, forcing Cleopatra to flee to Syria. The ensuing civil war was ended when Ptolemy drowned while attempting to cross the Nile, and Cleopatra appointed their younger brother Ptolemy XIV (13 years old at the time) as co-ruler (and husband) in his place, although the latter's rule was in name only even more so than his predecessor.
  • Amakusa Shiro was only 16 years old when he was chosen to lead the Shimabara Rebellion because of due to a vision attributed to Francis Xavier about a Chosen One coming to liberate the Japanese Roman Catholics. Shiro was very competent at gathering followers due to his charisma and was regarded as the "heaven's messenger". Unfortunately, the rebellion was crushed because of a traitor ratted them out to the Shogunate and Shiro was executed at 17 with his head placed on a pike to serve as a warning to Christians.
  • The Vietnamese court was terribly fond of these. Some notable examples:
    • The last Lý emperor and the only female ruler by right of birth in the history of the country, Lý Chiêu Hoàng, ascended the throne at 7. She abdicated a year later and handed the throne over to her husband, the 8-year-old Trần Cảnh (via the machinations of General Trần Thủ Độ). Out of 9 Lý emperors, 5 came to the throne as children. She was blamed for the collapse of the dynasty, and to this day is not worshipped in the same temple as her ancestors but a separate one devoted only to her.
    • Trần Cảnh became Trần Thái Tông, the first emperor of the Trần dynasty. He was forced to "promote" his pregnant sister-in-law to Empress and demote Chiêu Hoàng to princess in order to maintain the line of succession. The Trần dynasty also established the post of the Retired Emperor, in which an emperor would abdicate but remain an influence at court. This meant a fair few emperors ascended the throne as children.
    • The youngest was Lê Nhân Tông, crowned at the age of 2, was given formal power at 12 note , and murdered by his brother at 19.
    • The Nguyễn dynasty saw French domination towards the end, so it was in the colonizers' interest to put children on the throne. A string of them were dethroned or assassinated because they were unsuitable. Hàm Nghi was arrested and exiled to Algeria until his death. Thành Thái was forced to abdicate and sent to Reunion Island, along with his son Duy Tân.
  • Matthias I Corvinus of Hungary is a curious non-hereditary example that he was actually elected. When the previous monarch died without any heirs, the nobles assembled to pick a new one and the 14-year old Matthias at the time was chosen because he was the son of the famous Hungarian hero John Hunyadi that fought several crusades against the Ottoman Empire. He turned out to be very successful (if very ruthless) king on his own right.
  • II. Lajos of Hungary/Ludvík II of Bohemia was formally declared co-ruler by his father II. Ulászló/Vladislav II when he was not quite two, and said father died when he was ten. Youthful enthusiasm was probably not the only reason for the politicalnote , administrative, and tactical blunders that led up to the rout at Mohács where he died at age twenty, but it is unlkely to have helped.
  • Very young kings were common in the final years of the Goryeo kingdom (modern-day Korea). Sadly many of them were assassinated while still young.
    • King Chungsuk was nineteen when he first became king. This was unusually old, considering how young his son, grandsons, and great-grandson were.
    • King Chunghye, Chungsuk's son, was king twice; his first reign began when he was fifteen. Unfortunately he was a terrible ruler with a fondness for raping and murdering women.
    • Two of Chunghye's sons became king, and both of them were this trope. Chungmok became king when he was seven and died when he was eleven. His half-brother Chungjeong became king when he was ten. He was deposed aged thirteen and murdered aged fourteen. Disturbingly, Chungjeong fathered at least two children before his death.
    • King U note  was enthroned at the ripe old age of eleven. He was deposed when he was twenty-three and murdered a year later. His son, King Chang, was enthroned aged seven. Sadly, Chang was murdered along with his father when he was only eight.
  • Earlier in the Goryeo kingdom, King Injong took the throne when shortly before his thirteenth birthday. His reign lasted twenty-four years and was full of political drama; among other things he witnessed the rise of China's Yuan dynasty and its attempts to make Goryeo a vassal state.
  • Ananda Mahidol became king of Thailand when he was nine. He never had a chance to rule; he spent most of his reign in Switzerland, and died under very mysterious circumstances when he was only twenty. His younger brother Bhumibol became king when he was eighteen, though his coronation was delayed for four years.
  • Emperor Ai, last emperor of the Tang dynasty, was crowned aged eleven and murdered aged fifteen.
  • Emperor Shang's birthdate is uncertain, but he died when he was nineteen at the oldest.
  • Shō Tai, last king of the Ryukyu Kingdom, became king when he was only six.
  • Shō On became king when he was eleven and died when he was eighteen. His son Shō Sei became king when he was two and died of smallpox a year later.
  • Danjong of Joseon became king when he was twelve. When he was only sixteen his uncle overthrew him and had him murdered.


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Alternative Title(s): A Child Will Lead Them, A Child Will Rule Them, A Child Shall Rule Them


Pitt the Younger

William Pitt the Younger is appointed prime minister.

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Main / AChildShallLeadThem

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