There has been a lot of research on non-violent resistance, but looking at Wikipedia's page on the topic, I can't seem to answer this question: What was the first non-violent toppling of a dictator?

N.B.: there is a related but not identical question here What was the first successful non violent independence movement? It gives India as example, but arguably India didn't topple a dictatorship then.

The oldest one mentioned in Wikipedia that seems to unambiguously qualify is perhaps the 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines. But this seems awfully recent. Are there any older examples?

And since people have quibble about terminology "toppling" is a term used by one of the scholars in this field. (And so is "dictator" and "non-violent".)

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    The answer to the question as asked is probably somewhere in Ancient Greece; do you want to tighten it up? – Tim Lymington supports Monica Apr 4 at 11:26
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    Changed it to first "recorded", as that's a bit easier to achieve. – T.E.D. Apr 4 at 12:54
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    This reads like a contradiction in terms: "overthrow –– remove forcibly from power." Similarly "dictator": the modern meaning of the term makes looking too far back a too big temptation. If you look at Argentina 1982 or Germany 1989: where would you set the line for non-violence? Riots in the streets, police beatings, these are violent; but I guess you look for Breshnev/China tanks firing bullets? When Pinochet went down, the event itself was quite calm (further term denied by plebiscite), but years of resistance went before that. – LаngLаngС Apr 4 at 13:42
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    @TimLymington: no, that would be an ok answer for me if enough details are known. Was Hippias overthrown without violence? As far as I can tell he fled as Cleomenes I invaded, so that probably doesn't count. – Fizz Apr 4 at 13:49
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    @Fizz Please include your own research and your own definitions in your question. Without that, it's just opinion-based. People don't want to go through the effort of answering a question only to be told "Naah, that's not really what I meant". – Spencer Apr 4 at 14:44

If you accept a Western Roman Emperor as a dictator, then Vetranio (March to December 350 AD) may qualify. This somewaht obscure emperor was deposed peacefully by Contantius II:

Constantius first met with Vetranio at Serdica.... On 25 December 350 both men mounted a platform before the assembled troops; Constantius managed, by means of a strong speech, to have the soldiers acclaim him emperor. He then took the purple away from Vetranio. The emperor led the old man down the stairs of the platform, called him father, and led him to the dinner table. Vetranio was allowed by Constantius to live as a private citizen at Prusa on the equivalent of a state pension for six years until his death.

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    I think it's a reasonable example even if just for establishing a pattern: have the army undoubtedly on the side of the (would be) succession. No real violence seems needed then. – Fizz Apr 4 at 14:35
  • That's strange. One Caesar 'toppling' his own Augustus again? Now if anyone of both would have persuaded Magnentius to just go home… – LаngLаngС Apr 4 at 17:57
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    I wonder if the question might not be better phrased as "without violence or threat of violence". In this case, esp with the Roman tradition of the Rhine Legions pushing through their emperors, I can easily see Vetranio calling it quits rather than fighting a war he's bound to lose. Does not mean it wouldn't have been violent. Whereas India or depositing Marcos or the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe was never about the people really having violent potential to threaten the government with (not that escalations aren't possible later on, as in Syria). – Italian Philosopher Apr 5 at 1:07
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    @ItalianPhilosopher I don't think there's an easy way to phrase a question like this, and proving 'without threat of violence' would not only be difficult but would also be a matter of opinion. How could we know what people were thinking or what threats of violence may or may not have been made behind closed doors? – Lars Bosteen Apr 5 at 2:25

Some dictators simply resign from their job. I think Sulla was the first. Diocletian is another outstanding example.

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