Regnal year

A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign, from the Latin regnum meaning kingdom, rule.

The oldest dating systems were in regnal years, and considered the date as an ordinal, not a cardinal number. For example, a monarch could have a first year of rule, a second year of rule, a third year of rule, and so on, but not a zeroth year of rule.

Applying this ancient epoch system to modern calculations of time, which include zero, is what led to the debate over when the third millennium began.

Regnal years are "finite era names", contrary to "infinite era names" such as Christian era, Jimmu era, Juche era, and so on.

Reckoning in various cultures

In ancient times, calendars were counted in terms of the number of years of the reign of the current monarch. Reckoning long periods of times required a king list. The oldest such reckoning is preserved in the Sumerian king list.

In England, and later the United Kingdom, until 1963, each Act of Parliament was defined by its serial number within the session of parliament in which it was enacted, which in turn was denoted by the regnal year or years of the monarch in which it fell.

In Canada, acts of Parliament are dated by the session, the Parliament, the regnal year, and the calendar year. So, for example, a bill passed in the second session during the period spanning 2007–2008 would be dated thus: Second Session, Thirty-ninth Parliament, 56–57 Elizabeth II, 2007–2008

The Zoroastrian calendar also operated with regnal years following the reform of Ardashir I (3rd century).

While not strictly a regnal year, time in the United States of America can be derived from the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776). For example, the U.S. Constitution is dated as signed in "the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth," and Presidential proclamations will often be ended "IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this [ordinal] day of [month], in the year of our Lord [year], and of the Independence of the United States of America the [year]." 2019 is the 244th year of the Independence of the United States of America on and after July 4 of that year. Time is also sometimes reckoned in terms (and sessions, if necessary) of Congress; e.g. House of Representatives Bill 2 of the 112th Congress is dated "112th CONGRESS, 1st Session".[1]

Asian era names

Regnal years were generally used for year marking in East Asia before the advent of era names. In China, the first continuous use of era names was in 140BC. Prior to that, years were usually marked as regnal years of the king or emperor.

From 140BC, an era name was assigned as the name of each year by the leader (emperor or king) of the East Asian countries during some portion of their history. The people of the country referred to that year by that name. Era names were used for over two millennia by Chinese emperors and are still used in North Korea, Japan and Taiwan. It could last from one year to the length of the leader's reign. If it lasted more than one year, numbers were appended to the era name. If it lasted the entire length of the leader's reign, then that leader is often referred to by that name posthumously. However, the leader was often given a more complex formal posthumous name as well. It should not be confused with a temple name, by which many leaders are known.

The Lanfang Republic era, Republic of Formosa era and Republic of China era are era names without an emperor. The Confucius era and Juche era are based on the year of birth of the thinker or eternal president. The Huangdi era, Dangun era and kōki were counted in terms of the number of years of the reign of the first monarch. The Tibetan Empire, Kingdom of Khotan, Liao Dynasty, Western Xia, Jin dynasty (1115–1234), Kara-Khitan Khanate, Mongol Empire, Northern Yuan Dynasty, Qing Dynasty, Nguyễn Dynasty, Joseon Dynasty, Bogd Khaanate of Mongolia and North Korea also use non-Chinese era names. Some are transliterations of their Chinese era names. Chinese era names were also employed in other East Asian countries.

Abolished era names may be reused, for example as a means of claiming or denying political legitimacy. An example of this is, that when the Yongle emperor usurped the throne from his nephew he dated the year of his accession as "洪武三十五年", the 35th year of his father, the Hongwu Emperor's reign, i.e. 1402. Hongwu had in fact died in 1398, and the short reign of the Jianwen Emperor, who ruled between 1398 and 1402 was written out of the official record. However, they would sometimes still be used. 景初四年 (240) was used on Japanese bronze mirrors.[2] 廣德四年 (766) and 建中八年 (787) were used in a Western Regions tomb and a document.[3] Kuchlug did not change the era name.

After the Ming Dynasty fell, the Joseon Dynasty still used Chongzhen, and the Kingdom of Tungning still used Yongli regnal years, [4] thus denying the legitimacy of the Qing dynasty, and showing continued allegiance to the Ming regime.

The short lived Daxi kingdom, post Zhang Xianzhong, used the Ganzhi calendar without era names. Overseas Chinese used Longfei (龍飛) or Tianyun (天運).[5]

Chinese era names

The Chinese era names (年號, niánhào) were used sporadically from 156 BC and continuously from 140 BC. Until 1367 AD several were used during each emperor's reign. From 1368 AD until 1912 AD only one era name was used by each emperor, who was posthumously known by his era name, which meant that the era name became equivalent to a regnal year. The tradition of Chinese era names survives in the Republic of China's Minguo calendar, with Minguo, the Chinese for Republic, taking the place of the era name.


The official Japanese system or Gengō (元号) numbers years from the accession of the current emperor, regarding the calendar year during which the accession occurred as the first year. The current emperor Akihito succeeded to the throne on 7 January 1989 on the death of his father Emperor Shōwa, and the new era name Heisei was decreed by the Cabinet. Thus the year 1989 corresponds to Heisei 1 (平成元年 Heisei gannen, or "first year"). The system was in use sporadically from 645 and continuously from 701. Until 1867 several era names were used during each emperor's reign. From 1868 only one has been used by each emperor. Since 1868 each emperor has been known posthumously by his era name.


Korea used independent era names whilst reigning in all of its variety of nations. Korean endemic eras were used from 391 to 1274 and from 1894 to 1910. During the later years of the Joseon Dynasty, years were also numbered from the founding of that dynasty in 1393. From 1952 until 1961, years were numbered in Dangi in South Korea, counting from the legendary founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC.

The tradition of Korean era names survives in the North Korean Juche calendar, with Juche year 1 being 1912 the year of the birth of Kim Il-sung.

Notable king lists

See also


  1. ^ 112 H.R. 2
  2. ^ 王勇著
  3. ^ 长河落日圆——详议安史之乱[中](2)
  4. ^ 17、18世纪朝鲜使用中国年号问题
  5. ^ 馬來西亞華人殯葬業的演變與挑戰中國長沙民政學院殯儀系主辦《現代殯葬教育十年慶典研討會》論文(上)

Abisare ruled the ancient West Asian city-state of Larsa from 1841 BC to 1830 BC. He was an Amorite. The annals of his 11-year reign record that he smote Isin in his 9th regnal year.


Ammi-Ditana was a king of Babylon who reigned from 1683–1640s BC. He was preceded by Abi-Eshuh. Year-names survive for the first 37 years of his reign, plus fragments for a few possible additional years. His reign was a largely peaceful one; he was primarily engaged in enriching and enlarging the temples, and a few other building projects, although in his 37th regnal year he recorded having destroyed the city wall of Der, built earlier by Damiq-ilishu of Isin.


Ammi-Saduqa (or Ammisaduqa, Ammizaduga) was a king (c. 1646–1626 BC according to the Middle Chronology dating, and c.1582-1562 according to the Short Chronology) of the First Dynasty of Babylon. Some 21 year-names survive for his reign, including the first 17. The names indicate that these years were fairly peaceful ones for the kingdom of Ammi-Saduqa, who was primarily engaged in enriching and enlarging the temples, and a few other building projects, such as building a wall at the mouth of the Euphrates in his 11th regnal year.

Andhra Ikshvaku

The Ikshvaku (IAST: Ikṣvāku) dynasty ruled in the eastern Krishna River valley of India, from their capital at Vijayapuri (modern Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh) during approximately 3rd and 4th centuries CE. The Ikshvakus are also known as the Andhra Ikshvakus or Ikshvakus of Vijayapuri to distinguish them from their legendary namesakes.

The Ikshvaku kings were Shaivites and performed Vedic rites, but Buddhism also flourished during their reign. Several Ikshvaku queens and princes contributed to the construction of the Buddhist monuments at present-day Nagarjunakonda.

Brahmeswara Temple

Brahmeswara Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, erected at the end of the 9th century CE, is richly carved inside and out. This Hindu temple can be dated with fair accuracy by the use of inscriptions that were originally on the temple. They are now lost, but records of them preserve the information of around 1058 CE. The temple is built in the 18th regnal year of the Somavamsi king Udyotakesari by his mother Kolavati Devi, which corresponds to 1058 CE.

Chinese era name

A Chinese era name is the regnal year, reign period, or regnal title used when traditionally numbering years in an emperor's reign and naming certain Chinese rulers. Some emperors have several era names, one after another, where each beginning of a new era resets the numbering of the year back to year one or yuán (元). The numbering of the year increases on the first day of the Chinese calendar each year. The era name originated as a motto or slogan chosen by an emperor.


Khabash, also Khababash or Khabbash, resided at Sais in the fifth nome of Lower Egypt in the fourth century BCE. During the second Persian occupation of Egypt (343–332 BCE) he led a revolt against the Persian rule in concert with his eldest son, from ca. 338 to 335 BCE, a few years before the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great. It is said that Nectanebo II, the exiled last native ruler of Egypt, may have helped in these events, but he was possibly sidelined for good as a result of the failure of the revolt.Little is known about Khabash. He is referred to as "Lord of both lands", i.e. King of Upper and Lower Egypt, and as "Son of Ra", another pharaonic title, and given the throne name of Senen-setep-en-Ptah in a decree by Ptolemy Lagides, who became King Ptolemy I Soter in 305 BCE.

Sometime in the 330s BCE, an Egyptian ruler called Kambasuten – who is widely recognized as Khabash – led an invasion into the kingdom of Kush which was defeated by king Nastasen as recorded in a stela now in the Berlin museum. An Apis bull sarcophagus bearing his name was found at Saqqara and dated to his regnal Year 2.


Khamudi (also known as Khamudy) was the last Hyksos ruler of the Fifteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Khamudi came to power in 1534 BC or 1541 BC, ruling the northern portion of Egypt from his capital Avaris. His ultimate defeat at the hands of Ahmose I, after a short reign, marks the end of the Second Intermediate Period.


Narayanapala (9th-10th century CE) was the sixth emperor of the Pala dynasty of the Eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent, mainly the Bengal and Bihar regions. The Gaya temple inscription dated in his 7th regnal year, the Indian Museum (found in the erstwhile Patna district) stone inscription dated in his 9th regnal year, the Bhagalpur copper-plate grant dated in his 17th regnal year, Bihar votive image inscription dated in his 54th regnal year and the Badal pillar inscription of his minister Bhatta Guravamishra provide information about his reign.Based on the different interpretations of the various epigraphs and historical records, the different historians estimate Narayanapala's reign as follows:

Narayanapala was defeated by Mihira Bhoja.

Pulakeshin II

Pulakeshin II (IAST: Pulakeśin, r. c. 610–642 CE) was the most famous ruler of the Chalukya dynasty of Vatapi (present-day Badami in Karnataka, India). During his reign, the Chalukya kingdom expanded to cover most of the Deccan region in peninsular India.

A son of the Chalukya king Kirttivarman I, Pulakeshin overthrew his uncle Mangalesha to gain control of the throne. He suppressed a rebellion by Appayika and Govinda, and decisively defeated the Kadambas of Banavasi in the south. The Alupas and the Gangas of Talakad recognized his suzerainty. He consolidated the Chalukya control over the western coast by subjugating the Mauryas of Konkana. His Aihole inscription also credits him with subjugating the Latas, the Malavas, and the Gurjaras in the north.

The most notable military achievement of Pulakeshin was his victory over the powerful northern emperor Harsha-vardhana, whose failure to conquer the Chalukya kingdom is attested by the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang. In the east, Pulakeshin subjugated the rulers of Dakshina Kosala and Kalinga. After defeating the Vishnukundina ruler, he appointed his brother Vishnu-vardhana as the governor of eastern Deccan; this brother later established the independent Eastern Chalukya dynasty of Vengi. Pulakeshin also achieved some successes against the Pallavas in the south, but was ultimately defeated, and probably killed, during an invasion by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I.

Pulakeshin was a Vaishnavite, but was tolerant of other faiths, including Shaivism, Buddhism, and Jainism. He patronized several scholars, including Ravikirtti, who composed his Aihole inscription.

Ramesses X

Khepermaatre Ramesses X (also written Ramses and Rameses) (ruled c. 1111 BC – 1107 BC) was the ninth ruler of the 20th dynasty of Ancient Egypt. His birth name was Amonhirkhepeshef. His prenomen or throne name, Khepermaatre, means "The Justice of Re Abides."His accession day fell on 1 prt 27 (first month of the Winter season, day 27).

His highest attested regnal year is year 3. The highest attested date in his reign is either "year 3, second month of the Inundation season, day 2" or possibly "year 3, month 4 (no day given)".Since Ramesses XI came to the throne on 3 šmw 20 (third month of the Summer season, day 20), it automatically follows that Ramesses X must have lived into an as yet unattested regnal year 4.

The theory put forward on astronomical grounds by Richard Parker that Ramesses X may have reigned for 9 years, has since been abandoned.

Likewise, the suggested ascription of Theban graffito 1860a to a hypothetical year 8 of Ramesses X is no longer supported.The English Egyptologist Aidan Dodson once wrote in a 2004 book:

"No evidence is known to indicate the relationship between the final kings Ramesses IX, X and XI. If they were a father-son succession, Tyti, who bears the titles of King's Daughter, King's Wife and King's Mother, would seem [to be] a good candidate for the wife of Ramesses X, but little else can be discerned."However, Dodson's hypothesis here on Tyti's position must now be discarded since it has been proven in 2010 that Tyti was rather a queen of a previous 20th dynasty pharaoh instead. She is mentioned in the partly fragmented Harris papyrus to be Ramesses III's wife as Dodson himself acknowledges.

Ramesses X is a poorly documented king. His year 2 is attested by Papyrus Turin 1932+1939 while his third year is documented in the Necropolis Journal of the Workmen of Deir El Medina. This diary mentions the general idleness of the necropolis workmen, at least partly due to the threat posed by Libyan marauders in the Valley of the Kings. It records that the Deir El-Medina workmen were absent from work in Year 3 IIIrd Month of Peret (i.e., Winter) days 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 21 and 24 for fear of the "desert-dwellers" (i.e., the Libyans or Meshwesh) who evidently roamed through Upper Egypt and Thebes at will. This is partly a reflection of the massive Libyan influx into the Western Delta region of Lower Egypt during this time. Ramesses X is also the last New Kingdom king whose rule over Nubia is attested from an inscription at Aniba.His KV18 tomb in the Valley of the Kings was left unfinished. It is uncertain if he was ever buried there, since no remains or fragments of funerary objects were discovered within it.

Ramesses XI

Menmaatre Ramesses XI (also written Ramses and Rameses) reigned from 1107 BC to 1078 BC or 1077 BC and was the tenth and final pharaoh of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt and as such, was the last king of the New Kingdom period. He ruled Egypt for at least 29 years although some Egyptologists think he could have ruled for as long as 30. The latter figure would be up to 2 years beyond this king's highest known date of Year 10 of the Whm Mswt era or Year 28 of his reign. One scholar, Ad Thijs, has suggested that Ramesses XI could even have reigned as long as 33 years.It is believed that Ramesses ruled into his Year 29 since a graffito records that the general and High Priest of Amun Piankh returned to Thebes from Nubia on III Shemu day 23—or just 3 days into what would have been the start of Ramesses XI's 29th regnal year. Piankh is known to have campaigned in Nubia during Year 28 of Ramesses XI's reign (or Year 10 of the Whm Mswt) and would have returned home to Egypt in the following year.

Regnal years of English monarchs

The following is a list of the official regnal years of the monarchs of the Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Great Britain and United Kingdom from 1066. The regnal calendar ("nth year of the reign of King X", etc.) is used in many official British government and legal documents of historical interest, notably parliamentary statutes.


Renpet was, in the Egyptian language, the word for "year". Its hieroglyph was figuratively depicted in art as a woman wearing a palm shoot (symbolizing time) over her head. She was often referred to as the Mistress of Eternity and also personified fertility, youth and spring. The glyph regularly appears on monuments and documents throughout Egyptian history as the beginning of the phrase recording the regnal year of the pharaoh.

Sed festival

The Sed festival (ḥb-sd, conventional pronunciation ; also known as Heb Sed or Feast of the Tail) was an ancient Egyptian ceremony that celebrated the continued rule of a pharaoh. The name is taken from the name of an Egyptian wolf god, one of whose names was Wepwawet or Sed.The less-formal feast name, the Feast of the Tail, is derived from the name of the animal's tail that typically was attached to the back of the pharaoh's garment in the early periods of Egyptian history. This tail might have been the vestige of a previous ceremonial robe made out of a complete animal skin.Despite the antiquity of the Sed Festival and the hundreds of references to it throughout the history of ancient Egypt, the most detailed records of the ceremonies—apart from the reign of Amenhotep III—come mostly from "relief cycles of the Fifth Dynasty king Neuserra... in his sun temple at Abu Ghurab, of Akhenaten at East Karnak, and the relief cycles of the Twenty-second Dynasty king Osorkon II... at Bubastis."The ancient festival might, perhaps, have been instituted to replace a ritual of murdering a pharaoh who was unable to continue to rule effectively because of age or condition. Eventually, Sed festivals were jubilees celebrated after a ruler had held the throne for thirty years and then every three to four years after that. They primarily were held to rejuvenate the pharaoh's strength and stamina while still sitting on the throne, celebrating the continued success of the pharaoh.

There is clear evidence for early pharaohs celebrating the Heb Sed, such as the First Dynasty pharaoh Den and the Third Dynasty pharaoh Djoser. In the Pyramid of Djoser, there are two boundary stones in his Heb Sed court, which is within his pyramid complex. He also is shown performing the Heb Sed in a false doorway inside his pyramid.

Sed festivals implied elaborate temple rituals and included processions, offerings, and such acts of religious devotion as the ceremonial raising of a djed, the base or sacrum of a bovine spine, a phallic symbol representing the strength, "potency and duration of the pharaoh's rule". One of the earliest Sed festivals for which there is substantial evidence is that of the Sixth Dynasty pharaoh Pepi I Meryre in the South Saqqara Stone Annal document. The most lavish, judging by surviving inscriptions, were those of Ramesses II and Amenhotep III. Sed festivals still were celebrated by the later Libyan-era kings such as Shoshenq III, Shoshenq V, Osorkon I, who had his second Heb Sed in his 33rd year, and Osorkon II, who constructed a massive temple at Bubastis complete with a red granite gateway decorated with scenes of this jubilee to commemorate his own Heb Sed.

Pharaohs who followed the typical tradition, but did not reign so long as 30 years had to be content with promises of "millions of jubilees" in the afterlife.Several pharaohs seem to have deviated from the traditional 30-year tradition, notably two pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Hatshepsut and Akhenaten, rulers in a dynasty that was recovering from occupation by foreigners, reestablishing itself, and redefining many traditions.

Hatshepsut, an extremely successful pharaoh, celebrated her Sed jubilee at Thebes—in what some Victorian-era historians insist was only her sixteenth regnal year—but she did this by counting the time she was the strong consort of her weak husband, and some recent research indicates that she did exercise authority usually reserved for pharaohs during his reign, thereby acting as a co-ruler rather than as his Great Royal Wife, the duties of which were assigned to their royal daughter. Upon her husband's death, the only eligible male in the royal family was a stepson and nephew of hers who was a child. He was made a consort and, shortly thereafter, she was crowned pharaoh. Some Egyptologists, such as Jürgen von Beckerath in his book Chronology of the Egyptian Pharaohs, speculate that Hatshepsut may have celebrated her first Sed jubilee to mark the passing of 30 years from the death of her father, Thutmose I, from whom she derived all of her legitimacy to rule Egypt. He had appointed his daughter to the highest administrative office in his government, giving her a co-regent's experience at ruling many aspects of his bureaucracy. This reflects an oracular assertion supported by the priests of Amun-Re that her father named her as heir to the throne.Akhenaten made many changes to religious practices in order to remove the stranglehold on the country by the priests of Amun-Re, whom he saw as corrupt. His religious reformation may have begun with his decision to celebrate his first Sed festival in his third regnal year. His purpose may have been to gain an advantage against the powerful temple, since a Sed-festival was a royal jubilee intended to reinforce the pharaoh's divine powers and religious leadership. At the same time he also moved his capital away from the city that these priests controlled.

Senusret II

Khakheperre Senusret II was the fourth pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from 1897 BC to 1878 BC. His pyramid was constructed at El-Lahun. Senusret II took a great deal of interest in the Faiyum oasis region and began work on an extensive irrigation system from Bahr Yussef through to Lake Moeris through the construction of a dike at El-Lahun and the addition of a network of drainage canals. The purpose of his project was to increase the amount of cultivable land in that area. The importance of this project is emphasized by Senusret II's decision to move the royal necropolis from Dahshur to El-Lahun where he built his pyramid. This location would remain the political capital for the 12th and 13th Dynasties of Egypt. The king also established the first known workers' quarter in the nearby town of Senusrethotep (Kahun).Unlike his successor, Senusret II maintained good relations with the various nomarchs or provincial governors of Egypt who were almost as wealthy as the pharaoh. His Year 6 is attested in a wall painting from the tomb of a local nomarch named Khnumhotep II at Beni Hasan.


Širikti-šuqamuna, inscribed phonetically in cuneiform mši-rik-ti-dšu-qa-mu-nu and meaning “gift of (the god) Šuqamuna”, ca. 985 BC, succeeded his fellow “son of Bazi,” Ninurta-kudurrῑ-uṣur I, as 3rd king of the Bῑt-Bazi or 6th Dynasty of Babylon and exercised the kingship for just 3 months, insufficient a time to merit an official regnal year.

Shoshenq III

King Usermaatre Setepenre/Setepenamun Shoshenq III ruled Egypt's 22nd Dynasty for 39 years according to contemporary historical records. Two Apis Bulls were buried in the fourth and 28th years of his reign and he celebrated his Heb Sed Jubilee in his regnal year 30. Little is known of the precise basis for his successful claim to the throne since he was not a son of Osorkon II and Shoshenq's parentage and family ties are unknown.

From Shoshenq III's eighth regnal year, his reign was marked by the loss of Egypt's political unity, with the appearance of Pedubast I at Thebes. Henceforth, the kings of the 22nd Dynasty only controlled Lower Egypt. The Theban High Priest Osorkon B (the future Osorkon III) did date his activities at Thebes and (Upper Egypt) to Shoshenq III's reign, but this was solely for administrative reasons since Osorkon did not declare himself king after the death of his father, Takelot II. On the basis of Osorkon B's well known Chronicle, most Egyptologists today accept that Takelot II's 25th regnal year is equivalent to Shoshenq III's 22nd year.

Siege of Nisibis (252)

The Siege of Nisibis took place when the Sasanians under Shah Shapur I besieged the Roman city of Nisibis in 252. This marks the beginning of Shapur's I second invasion of the Roman empire which saw the first Sassanid invasion of Syria; the year of the invasion is debated as Shapur's inscription from Naqsh-e Rustam regarding his second campaign against Rome do not mention the city of Nisibis. But Syriac and Arabic sources, mainly the Chronicle of Seert and Al-Tabari, mention that Shapur took Nisibis in his eleventh regnal year; according to the historian David Stone Potter, this regnal year is 252. Another Syriac account, the Liber Caliphorum, from the eighth century, mentions the invasion of the city in 252.

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