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Throughout the history of mankind it has been common to fight for power (as opposed to being invited to rule). Whenever the "who shall rule?" question pops up, the answer has been mostly either given or solicited by those actively seeking power - whether through the use of force and violence, intrigues or legal persuasion (e.g. elections).
How often does the above get proven wrong? How often does top power get offered to people not seeking it and not even involved into making the decision as to who will rule? (let's exclude succession here).
I am currently aware of only two examples - the accession to the throne of the both Russian tsar dynasties:
- Around 860, Rurik was invited to establish order by tribes fighting each other
- In 1613, Michael I was elected by a national assembly. At that time, he was living hundreds of miles away and only found out about the power he had been granted one month later
Are there many more examples like the two above?
One such example would be Charles XIV John of Sweden, who became heir-presumptive to Charles XIII by invitation.
Another example, although a temporary one, would be Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. He was elected twice dictator of Rome. The first time this happened, he was a senator. But the second time he was away from Rome and he was not involved in the nomination of a dictator.
Lady Jane Grey is a good example. When she was told that Edward VI had named her as his heir she said
"The crown is not my right. It pleases me not. Mary is the rightful heir." It did her no good. Dudley, her parents and Guildford coerced her to do their will, and in the end, she had to give way. But she was not at peace with herself. She wrote later, "It did not become me to accept."
Of course, it didn't last and Mary had her beheaded.
George VI is another example. Wikipedia says being King was
a position he was reluctant to accept. The day before the abdication, he went to London to see his mother, Queen Mary. He wrote in his diary, "When I told her what had happened, I broke down and sobbed like a child."