An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order. Archetypally, it was the period of time between the reign of one monarch and the next (coming from Latin inter-, "between" and rēgnum, "reign" [from rex, rēgis, "king"]), and the concepts of interregnum and regency therefore overlap. Historically, longer and heavier interregna have been typically accompanied by widespread unrest, civil and succession wars between warlords, and power vacuums filled by foreign invasions or the emergence of a new power. A failed state is usually in interregnum.

The term also refers to the periods between the election of a new parliament and the establishment of a new government from that parliament in parliamentary democracies, usually ones that employ some form of proportional representation that allows small parties to elect significant numbers, requiring time for negotiations to form a government. In the UK, Canada and other "first past the post" electoral systems, this period is usually very brief, except in the rare occurrence of a hung parliament as occurred both in the UK in 2017 and in Australia in 2010. In parliamentary interregnums, the previous government usually stands as a caretaker government until the new government is established. Additionally, the term has been applied to the United States presidential transition, the period of time between the election of a new U.S. president and his or her inauguration, during which the outgoing president remains in power, but as a lame duck.[1]

Similarly, in some Christian denominations, "interregnum" (interim) describes the time between vacancy and appointment of priest or pastors to various roles.

Historical periods of interregnum

Particular historical periods known as interregna include:

In some monarchies, such as the United Kingdom, an interregnum is usually avoided due to a rule described as "The King is dead. Long live the King", i.e. the heir to the throne becomes a new monarch immediately on his predecessor's death or abdication. This famous phrase signifies the continuity of sovereignty, attached to a personal form of power named Auctoritas. This is not so in other monarchies where the new monarch's reign begins only with coronation or some other formal or traditional event. In the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth for instance, kings were elected, which often led to relatively long interregna. During that time it was the Polish primate who served as an interrex (ruler between kings). In Belgium the heir only becomes king upon swearing an oath of office before the parliament.



A Papal interregnum occurs upon the death or resignation of the Catholic Church's Pope, though this is generally known as a sede vacante (literally "when the seat is vacant"). The interregnum ends immediately upon election of a new Pope by the College of Cardinals.


"Interregnum" is the term used in the Anglican Communion to describe the period before a new parish priest is appointed to fill a vacancy. During an interregnum, the administration of the parish is the responsibility of the churchwardens.[2]


In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when the President of The Church dies, the First Presidency is dissolved and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the Twelve) becomes the Church's presiding body. Any members of the First Presidency who were formerly members of the Twelve rejoin that quorum. The period between the death of the President and the reorganization of the First Presidency is known as an "Apostolic Interregnum".[3]


FIDE, the world governing body of international chess competition, has had two Interregnum periods of having no chess champions, both during the 1940s.



In fiction

  • The events of Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy take place during the galactic interregnum in his Foundation Universe, taking place in the 25th millennium. Foundation begins at the end of the Galactic Empire and notes in the novels from the Encyclopedia Galactica imply that a Second Galactic Empire follows the 1000 year interregnum.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium set in Middle-earth, the disappearance of the King Eärnur of Gondor is followed by a 968-year interregnum (the Steward years), which ends with the return of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings.
  • The Old Kingdom Trilogy takes place after 200 years of interregnum, where the reigning Queen and her two daughters were murdered by Kerrigor, 180 years of regency first and 20 years of anarchy following the death of the last Regent.
  • The Vlad Taltos series is set in a fantastical world of magic, at a time directly following a 250-year interregnum wherein traditional sorcery was impossible due to the orb being destroyed.
  • In the Elder Scrolls video games, there was an Interregnum in the Second Era when the Second Cyrodillic Empire collapsed. It led to just over four centuries of bickering between small kingdoms and petty states. The Interregnum ended when Tiber Septim, or Talos, formed the Third Empire after a decade of war. Similarly, with the sacrifice of Martin Septim during the Oblivion Crisis in the Third Era, the Septim dynasty came to an end, and a seven-year interregnum occurred before Titus Mede I restored the throne and ushered in the Fourth Era.
  • In Poland by James A. Michener, 1983, an historical novel that spent 38 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List, interregnum is mentioned numerous times in the ever-shifting power struggles that plagued that country, even up to the 1980s.
  • In the film A Christmas Prince, the Kingdom of Aldovia limits interregna to a maximum of one year. This becomes a central plot point when it appears Crown Prince Richard may not accept the throne prior to the Christmas deadline.

In Media

  • The television game show Jeopardy! has been regarded as being in two interregnums, during Season 37 after the death of Alex Trebek following the taping of Episode 75 (aired January 8, 2021), and lasting until Episode 230 (aired August 13, 2021). The second interregnum, in Season 38, came following the firing of Mike Richards following the taping of Episode 5 (aired September 17, 2021). Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings hosted in both interregnums.

See also


  1. Klotz, Robert J. (22 March 1997). "On the Way Out: Interregnum Presidential Activity". Presidential Studies Quarterly. 27 (2): 320. ISSN 0360-4918.
  2. "Responsibilities and Duties of the Churchwarden". Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  3. Moore, Carrie A. (30 January 2008). "LDS leadership succession plan well-established". Deseret News. Retrieved 13 January 2018.


This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.