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A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected. These exceptions make it difficult to define "monarchy" precisely; the most objective and comprehensive (albeit circular) definition would seem to be that a monarchy is a government that calls itself a monarchy. The monarch often bears the title king or queen. However, emperors/empresses, grand dukes/grand duchesses, princes/princesses and other ranks, are or have been used to designate monarchs. As explained below, the word monarch means 'single ruler', but cultural and historical considerations would appear to exclude presidents and other heads of state. Historically, the notion of monarchy may emerge under different circumstances. It may grow out of tribal kingship, and royal priesthood and the office of monarch (kings) becoming typically hereditary, resulting in successive dynasties or "houses", especially when the leader is wise and able enough to lead. It may also be a consequent emergence after an act of violence is committed upon local communities by an invading group, which usurps the communities' rights over traditions. The leader of the usurping group often establishes himself as a monarch. A state of monarchy is said to result that reveals the relationships between resources, communities, monarch and his office. Even in antiquity, the strict hereditary succession could be tempered by systems of elective monarchy, where an assembly elects a new monarch out of a pool of eligible candidates. This concept has also been modernized, and constitutional monarchies where the title of monarch remains mostly ceremonial, without, or with very limited political power.
Currently, 44 sovereign nations in the world have monarchs acting as heads of state, 16 of which are Commonwealth realms that recognize Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. The historical form of absolute monarchy is retained only in Brunei, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, Vatican City and Bhutan.
The word monarch (Latin: monarcha) comes from the Greek monàrches, μονάρχης (from mònos, μόνος, "one/singular," and àrchon, ἄρχων, "leader/ruler/chief") which referred to a single, at least nominally absolute ruler. In current usage the word monarchy generally refers to a traditional system of hereditary rule, as elective monarchies are rare in the modern period.
Tribal kingship is often connected to sacral functions, so that the king acts as a priest, or is considered of divine ancestry. The sacral function of kingship was transformed into the notion of "divine right of kings" in the Christian Middle Ages, while the Chinese, Japanese and Nepalese monarchs continued to be considered living gods into the modern period.
The system of monarchy since antiquity has contrasted with forms of parliamentarianism, where executive power is wielded by assemblies of free citizens. In antiquity, monarchies were abolished in favour of such assemblies in Ancient Rome (Roman Republic, 509 BC), Ancient Athens (Athenian democracy, 500 BC).
In Germanic antiquity, kingship was primarily a sacral function, and the king was elected from among eligible members of royal families by the thing. Such ancient "parliamentarism" declined during the European Middle Ages, but it survived in forms of regional assemblies, such as the Icelandic Commonwealth, the Swiss Landsgemeinde and later Tagsatzung, and the High Medieval communal movement linked to the rise of medieval town privileges.
The modern resurgence of parliamentarism and anti-monarchism begins with the overthrow of the English monarchy by the Parliament of England in 1649, followed by American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1792. Much of 19th century politics was characterized by the division between anti-monarchist Radicalism and monarchist Conservativism.
Many countries abolished the monarchy in the 20th century and became republics, especially in the wake of either World War I or World War II. Advocacy of republics is called republicanism, while advocacy of monarchies is called monarchism.
Characteristics and role
Monarchies are associated with political or sociocultural hereditary rule, in which monarchs rule for life (although some monarchs do not hold lifetime positions, such as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, who serves a five-year term) and pass the responsibilities and power of the position to their children or family when they die. Most monarchs, both historically and in the modern day, have been born and brought up within a royal family, the center of the royal household and court. Growing up in a royal family (when present for several generations it may be called a dynasty), and future monarchs were often trained for the responsibilities of expected future rule.
Different systems of succession have been used, such as proximity of blood, primogeniture, and agnatic seniority (Salic law). While traditionally most modern monarchs have been male, many female monarchs also have ruled in history; the term queen regnant may refer to a ruling monarch, while a queen consort may refer to the wife of a reigning king. Form of governments may be hereditary without being considered monarchies, such as that of family dictatorships  or political families in many democracies.
Some monarchies are non-hereditary. In an elective monarchy, monarchs are elected, or appointed by some body (an electoral college) for life or a defined period, but otherwise serve as any other monarch. Three elective monarchies exist today, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates are twentieth-century creations, while one (the papacy) is ancient.
A self-proclaimed monarchy is established when a person claims the monarchy without any historical ties to a previous dynasty. Napoleon I of France declared himself Emperor of the French and ruled the First French Empire after previously calling himself First Consul following his seizure of power in the coup of 18 Brumaire. Jean-Bédel Bokassa of the Central African Republic declared himself "Emperor" of the Central African Empire. Yuan Shikai crowned himself Emperor of the short-lived "Empire of China" a few years after the Republic of China was founded.
Powers of monarch
Today, the extent of a monarch's powers varies:
- In an absolute monarchy, the monarch rules as an autocrat, with absolute power over the state and government—for example, the right to rule by decree, promulgate laws, and impose punishments. Absolute monarchies are not necessarily authoritarian; the enlightened absolutists of the Age of Enlightenment were monarchs who allowed various freedoms.
- In a constitutional monarchy the monarch is subject to a constitution. The monarch serves as a ceremonial figurehead symbol of national unity and state continuity. The monarch is nominally sovereign but the electorate, through their parliament/legislature, exercise political sovereignty. Constitutional monarchs have limited political power, except in Japan, where the constitution grants no power to the Emperor. Typical monarchical powers include granting pardons, granting honours, and reserve powers, e.g. to dismiss the prime minister, refuse to dissolve parliament, or veto legislation ("withhold Royal Assent"). they often also have privileges of inviolability, sovereign immunity, and an official residence. A monarch's powers and influence may depend on tradition, precedent, popular opinion, and law.
- In other cases the monarch's power is limited, not due to constitutional restraints, but to effective military rule. In the late Roman Empire, the Praetorian Guard several times deposed Roman Emperors and installed new emperors. The Hellenistic kings of Macedon and of Epirus were elected by the army, which was similar in composition to the ecclesia of democracies, the council of all free citizens; military service often was linked with citizenship among the male members of the royal house. Military domination of the monarch has occurred in modern Thailand and in medieval Japan (where a hereditary military chief, the shogun was the de facto ruler, although the Japanese emperor nominally ruled). In Fascist Italy the Savoy monarchy under King Victor Emmanuel III coexisted with the Fascist single-party rule of Benito Mussolini; Romania under the Iron Guard and Greece during the first months of the Colonels' regime were much the same way. Spain under Francisco Franco was officially a monarchy, although there was no monarch on the throne. Upon his death, Franco was succeeded as head of state by the Bourbon heir, Juan Carlos I, who proceeded to make Spain a democracy with himself as a figurehead constitutional monarch.
Person of monarch
Most states only have a single person acting as monarch at any given time, although two monarchs have ruled simultaneously in some countries, a situation known as diarchy. Historically this was the case in the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta or 17th-century Russia, and there are examples of joint sovereignty of spouses or relatives (such as William and Mary in the Kingdoms of England and Scotland). Other examples of joint sovereignty include Tsars Peter I and Ivan V of Russia and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Joanna of Castile of the Crown of Castile.
Andorra currently is the world's sole constitutional diarchy or co-principality. Located in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, it has two co-princes: the Bishop of Urgell (a prince-bishop) in Spain and the President of France. It is the only situation in which an independent country's monarch is democratically elected by the citizens of another country.
In a personal union, separate independent states share the same crown with one person as the monarch. The sixteen separate Commonwealth realms are sometimes described as being in a personal union with Queen Elizabeth II as monarch, however, legally each Commonwealth Realm has its own crown or monarchy, so they can also be described as being in a Shared Monarchy.
A pretender is a claimant to an abolished throne or to a throne already occupied by somebody else.
Abdication is when a monarch resigns.
Monarchs often take part in certain ceremonies, such as a coronation.
Role of religion
Monarchy, especially absolute monarchy, sometimes is linked to religious aspects; many monarchs once claimed the right to rule by the will of a deity (Divine Right of Kings, Mandate of Heaven), a special connection to a deity (sacred king) or even purported to be divine kings, or incarnations of deities themselves (imperial cult). Many European monarchs have been styled Fidei defensor (Defender of the Faith); some hold official positions relating to the state religion or established church.
In the Western Catholic political tradition, a morally-based, balanced monarchy is stressed as the ideal form of government, and little reverence is paid to modern-day ideals of egalitarian democracy: e.g. Saint Thomas Aquinas unapologetically declares: "Tyranny is wont to occur not less but more frequently on the basis of polyarchy [rule by many, i.e. oligarchy or democracy] than on the basis of monarchy." (On Kingship). However, Thomas Aquinas also stated that the ideal monarchical system would also have at lower levels of government both an aristocracy and elements of democracy in order to created a balance of power. The monarch would also be subject to both natural and divine law, as well, and also be subject to the Church in matters of religion.
In Dante Alighieri's De Monarchia, a spiritualized, imperial Catholic monarchy is strongly promoted according to a Ghibelline world-view in which the "royal religion of Melchizedek" is emphasized against the sacerdotal claims of the rival papal ideology.
Titles of monarchs
Monarchs have various titles, including king or queen, prince or princess (Sovereign Prince of Monaco), emperor or empress (Emperor of Japan, Emperor of India), or even duke or grand duke (Grand Duke of Luxembourg) or duchess. Many monarchs also are distinguished by styles, such as "Majesty", "Royal Highness" or "By the Grace of God". Islamic monarchs use titles such as Shah, Caliph, Sultan, Emir and Sheikh. In Mongolian or Turkic lands, the monarch may use the title Khan or Khagan.
In some cases monarchs are dependent on other powers (see vassals, suzerainty, puppet state, hegemony). In the British colonial era indirect rule under a paramount power existed, such as the princely states under the British Raj.
In Botswana, South Africa, Ghana and Uganda, the ancient kingdoms and chiefdoms that were met by the colonialists when they first arrived on the continent are now constitutionally protected as regional and/or sectional entities. Furthermore, in Nigeria, though the hundreds of sub-regional polities that exist there are not provided for in the current constitution, they are nevertheless legally recognised aspects of the structure of governance that operates in the nation. In addition to these five countries, peculiar monarchies of varied sizes and complexities exist in various other parts of Africa.
The rules for selection of monarchs varies from country to country. In constitutional monarchies the rule of succession generally is embodied in a law passed by a representative body, such as a parliament.
In a hereditary monarchy, the position of monarch is inherited according to a statutory or customary order of succession, usually within one royal family tracing its origin through a historical dynasty or bloodline. This usually means that the heir to the throne is known well in advance of becoming monarch to ensure a smooth succession.
Primogeniture, in which the eldest child of the monarch is first in line to become monarch, is the most common system in hereditary monarchy. The order of succession is usually affected by rules on gender. Historically "agnatic primogeniture" or "patrilineal primogeniture" was favoured, that is inheritance according to seniority of birth among the sons of a monarch or head of family, with sons and their male issue inheriting before brothers and their issue, and male-line males inheriting before females of the male line. This is the same as semi-Salic primogeniture. Complete exclusion of females from dynastic succession is commonly referred to as application of the Salic law (see Terra salica).
Before primogeniture was enshrined in European law and tradition, kings would often secure the succession by having their successor (usually their eldest son) crowned during their own lifetime, so for a time there would be two kings in coregency – a senior king and a junior king. Examples include Henry the Young King of England and the early Direct Capetians in France.
Sometimes, however, primogeniture can operate through the female line. In some systems a female may rule as monarch only when the male line dating back to a common ancestor is exhausted. In 1980, Sweden became the first European monarchy to declare equal (full cognatic) primogeniture, meaning that the eldest child of the monarch, whether female or male, ascends to the throne. Other kingdoms (such as the Netherlands in 1983, Norway in 1990, and Belgium in 1991) have since followed suit. Sometimes religion is affected; under the Act of Settlement 1701 all Roman Catholics and all persons who have married Roman Catholics are ineligible to be the British monarch and are skipped in the order of succession.
In the case of the absence of children, the next most senior member of the collateral line (for example, a younger sibling of the previous monarch) becomes monarch. In complex cases, this can mean that there are closer blood relatives to the deceased monarch than the next in line according to primogeniture. This has often led, especially in Europe in the Middle Ages, to conflict between the principle of primogeniture and the principle of proximity of blood, with outcomes that were idiosyncratic.
Other hereditary systems of succession include tanistry, which is semi-elective and gives weight to merit and Salic law. In some monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia, succession to the throne usually first passes to the monarch's next eldest brother, and only after that to the monarch's children (agnatic seniority).
In an elective monarchy, monarchs are elected, or appointed by some body (an electoral college) for life or a defined period, but otherwise serve as any other monarch. There is no popular vote involved in elective monarchies, as the elective body usually consists of a small number of elegible people. Historical examples of elective monarchy include the Holy Roman Emperors (chosen by prince-electors, but often coming from the same dynasty), and the free election of kings of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. For example, Pepin the Short (father of Charlemagne) was elected King of the Franks by an assembly of Frankish leading men; Stanisław August Poniatowski of Poland was an elected king, as was Frederick I of Denmark. Germanic peoples had elective monarchies.
Three elective monarchies exist today. The pope of the Roman Catholic Church (who rules as Sovereign of the Vatican City State) is elected to a life term by the College of Cardinals. In Malaysia, the federal king, called the Yang di-Pertuan Agong ("Paramount Ruler") is elected for a five-year term from and by the hereditary rulers (mostly sultans) of nine of the federation's constitutive states, all on the Malay peninsula. The United Arab Emirates also has a procedure for electing its monarch.
Appointment by the current monarch is another system, used in Jordan. In this system, the monarch chooses the successor, who is always his relative.
Currently there are 44 nations in the world with a monarch as head of state. They fall roughly into the following categories:
- Commonwealth realms. These are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The sixteen Commonwealth realms all share Queen Elizabeth II as monarch in a personal union arrangement. They all share a common British inheritance and have evolved out of the British Empire into membership of the Commonwealth of Nations as fully independent states where they retain Queen Elizabeth as head of state; unlike other members of the Commonwealth of Nations which are either dependencies, republics or have a different royal house. All sixteen realms are constitutional monarchies and full democracies where the queen has limited powers or a largely ceremonial role. The queen is head of the established Protestant Christian Church of England and Church of Scotland in the United Kingdom however, the other monarchies do not have an established church.
- European Constitutional Monarchies. These are: Andorra, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. These are all constitutional monarchies and fully democratic states, where the monarch has a limited or largely ceremonial role. There is generally a Christian religion established as the official church in each of these countries. This would be a form of Protestantism in Norway, Sweden, Denmark , UK and the Netherlands, while Belgium, Luxembourg, Andorra, Spain, Liechtenstein and Monaco are Roman Catholic countries. The monarch of the United Kingdom is also the head of state in all the Commonwealth Realms.
- European Constitutional/Absolute. Monarchies These are: Liechtenstein and Monaco, in both of these countries the Prince retains close to the powers of an absolute monarch but still is a constitutional monarch. For example the 2003 Constitution referendum which gives the Prince of Liechtenstein the power to veto any law that the Landtag proposes and the Landtag can veto any law that the Prince tries to pass. The Prince can hire or dismiss any elective member or government employee from his or her post. However what makes him not an absolute monarchy is that the people can call for a referendum to end the monarchy's reign. The Prince of Monaco has simpler powers but can not hire or dismiss any elective member or government employee from his or her post, but he can elect the minister of state, government council and judges. Both Albert II and Hans-Adam II have quite a bit of political power, but they also own huge tracts of land and are shareholders in many companies.
- Islamic Monarchies. These are: Bahrain, Brunei, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. Islamic monarchs generally retain far more powers than their European or Commonwealth counterparts. Brunei, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia remain absolute monarchies. Bahrain, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates are classified as mixed, meaning there are representative bodies of some kind, but the monarch retains most of his powers. Jordan, Malaysia and Morocco are constitutional monarchies, but their monarchs still retain more substantial powers than European equivalents. For convenience, Malaysia is grouped here with the Islamic monarchies, even though it could also qualify as an East Asian constitutional monarchy.
- East Asian Constitutional Monarchies. These are Bhutan, Cambodia, Japan, Thailand. These are constitutional monarchies where the monarch has a limited or ceremonial role. Bhutan, Japan, and Thailand are countries that were never colonised by European powers, but have changed from traditional absolute monarchies into constitutional ones during the twentieth century. Cambodia had its own monarchy after independence from France, which was deposed after the Khmer Rouge came into power and the subsequent invasion by Vietnam. The monarchy was subsequently restored in the peace agreement of 1993. Shintoism is the established religion in Japan, while Bhutan, Cambodia and Thailand are all Buddhist countries. However, most Japanese people practice Buddhism and Shinto simutaneously.
- Other monarchies. These are Tonga in the Pacific; Swaziland and Lesotho in Africa, and the Vatican City in Europe. Lesotho and Tonga are constitutional monarchies. Swaziland and Vatican City are absolute monarchies. They are all Christian countries, and the Pope, who is the monarch of the Vatican is also the head of the Roman Catholic religion
Notes and references
- ^ Examples include Oliver Cromwell and Richard Cromwell in the Commonwealth of England, Kim il-Sung and Kim Jong-il in North Korea, the Somoza family in Nicaragua, François Duvalier and Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti, and Hafez al-Assad and Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
- ^ For example, the Kennedy family in the United States and the [[Nehru-Gandhi famil ]] in India. See list of political families.
- ^ Murphy, Michael Dean. "A Kinship Glossary: Symbols, Terms, and Concepts". http://www.as.ua.edu/ant/Faculty/murphy/436/kinship.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
- ^ SOU 1977:5 Kvinnlig tronföljd, p.16.
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