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Absolute monarchy(or Absolutism as a doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch rules in their own right or power. In an absolute monarchy, the king or queen is by no means limited and has absolute power, though a limited constitution may exist in some countries. These are often hereditary monarchies. On the other hand, in constitutional monarchies, in which the authority of the head of state is also bound or restricted by the constitution, a legislature, or unwritten customs, the king or queen is not the only one to decide, and their entourage also exercises power, mainly the prime minister.
Absolute monarchy in Europe declined substantially following the French Revolution and World War I, both of which led to the popularization of theories of government based on the notion of popular sovereignty.
Absolute monarchies include Brunei, Eswatini, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Vatican City, and the individual emirates composing the United Arab Emirates, which itself is a federation of such monarchies – a federal monarchy.
In the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan wielded absolute power over the state and was considered a Padishah meaning "Great King" by his people. Many sultans wielded absolute power through heavenly mandates reflected in their title, such as "Shadow of God on Earth". In ancient Mesopotamia, many rulers of Assyria, Babylonia and Sumer were absolute monarchs as well.
Throughout Imperial China, many emperors and one empress (Wu Zetian) wielded absolute power through the Mandate of Heaven. In pre-Columbian America, the Inca Empire was ruled by a Sapa Inca, who was considered the son of Inti, the sun god and absolute ruler over the people and nation. Korea under the Joseon dynasty and short-lived empire was also an absolute monarchy, though the Kim dynasty in North Korea functions as a de facto monarchy.
Throughout much of European history, the divine right of kings was the theological justification for absolute monarchy. Many European monarchs claimed supreme autocratic power by divine right, and that their subjects had no rights to limit their power.
The Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Springtime of the Peoples century, divine right was regarded as an obsolete theory in most countries in the Western world, except in Russia where it was still given credence as the official justification for the Tsar's power until February Revolution in 1917 and in the Vatican City where it remains today.or the Springtime of Nations, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. It remains the most widespread revolutionary wave in European history. By the 19th
James VI and I and his son Charles I tried to import the principle of divine right into Scotland and England. Charles I's attempt to enforce episcopal polity on the Church of Scotland led to rebellion by the Covenanters and the Bishops' Wars, then fears that Charles I was attempting to establish absolutist government along European lines was a major cause of the English Civil War, despite the fact that he did rule this way for 11 years starting in 1629, after dissolving the Parliament of England for a time.
Absolutism was underpinned by a written constitution for the first time in Europe in 1665 Kongeloven, ' King's Law ' of Denmark–Norway, which ordered that the Monarch
shall from this day forth be revered and considered the most perfect and supreme person on the Earth by all his subjects, standing above all human laws and having no judge above his person, neither in spiritual nor temporal matters, except God alone.
This law consequently authorized the king to abolish all other centers of power. Most important was the abolition of the Council of the Realm in Denmark. Absolute monarchy lasted until 1814 in Norway, and 1848 in Denmark.
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Louis XIV of France (1638–1715) is often said to have proclaimed L'état, c'est moi!, 'I am the State!'. Although often criticized for his extravagances, such as the Palace of Versailles, he reigned over France for a long period, and some historians consider him a successful absolute monarch. More recently, revisionist historians[ who? ] have questioned whether Louis' reign should be considered 'absolute',[ example needed ] given the reality of the balance of power between the monarch and the nobility, as well as parliaments. [ need quotation to verify ] One theory is that he built the opulent palace of Versailles and only gave preferment to nobles who lived near it to gather nobility in Paris and to concentrate power as a centralized government. This policy also had the effect of separating nobles from their feudal armies.
The King of France concentrated legislative, executive, and judicial powers in his person. He was the supreme judicial authority. He could condemn people to death without the right of appeal. It was both his duty to punish offenses and stop them from being committed. From his judicial authority followed his power both to make laws and to annul them.
In Brandenburg-Prussia, the concept of absolute monarch took a notable turn from the above with its emphasis on the monarch as the "first servant of the state", but it also echoed many of the important characteristics of absolutism. Frederick William (r. 1640–1688), known as the Great Elector, used the uncertainties of the final stages of the Thirty Years' War [ citation needed ] to consolidate his territories into the dominant kingdom in northern Germany, whilst increasing his power over his subjects. His actions largely originated the militaristic streak of the Hohenzollerns.
Frederick William enjoyed support from the nobles, who enabled the Great Elector to undermine the Diet of Brandenburg and other representative assemblies. The leading families saw their future in cooperation with the central government and worked to establish absolutist power.
The most significant indicator of the nobles' success was the establishment of two tax rates – one for the cities and the other for the countryside – to the great advantage of the latter, which the nobles ruled. The nobles served in the upper levels of the elector's army and bureaucracy, but they also won new prosperity for themselves. The support of the Elector enabled the imposition of serfdom and the consolidation of land holdings into vast estates which provided for their wealth.
They became known as Junkers (from the German for young lord, junger Herr). Frederick William faced resistance from representative assemblies and long-independent cities in his realm. City leaders often revolted at the imposition of Electorate authority. The last notable effort was the uprising of the city of Königsberg which allied with the Estates General of Prussia to refuse to pay taxes. Frederick William crushed this revolt in 1662, by marching into the city with thousands of troops. A similar approach was used with the towns of Cleves.
Until 1905, the Tsars and Emperors of Russia governed as absolute monarchs. Ivan the Terrible was known for his reign of terror through oprichnina. Peter I the Great reduced the power of the Russian nobility and strengthened the central power of the monarch, establishing a bureaucracy and a police state. This tradition of absolutism, known as Tsarist autocracy, was expanded by Catherine II the Great and her descendants. Although Alexander II made some reforms and established an independent judicial system, Russia did not have a representative assembly or a constitution until the 1905 Revolution. However, the concept of absolutism was so ingrained in Russia that the Russian Constitution of 1906 still described the monarch as an autocrat. Russia became the last European country (excluding Vatican City) to abolish absolutism, and it was the only one to do so as late as the 20th century (the Ottoman Empire drafted its first constitution in 1876).
The form of government instituted in Sweden under King Charles XI and passed on to his son, Charles XII is commonly referred to as absolute monarchy; however, the Swedish monarch was never absolute in the sense that he wielded arbitrary power. The monarch still ruled under the law and could only legislate in agreement with the Riksdag of the Estates; rather, the absolutism introduced was the monarch's ability to run the government unfettered by the privy council, contrary to earlier practice. The absolute rule of Charles XI was instituted by the crown and the Riksdag in order to carry out the Great Reduction which would have been made impossible by the privy council which comprised the high nobility.
After the death of Charles XII in 1718, the system of absolute rule was largely blamed for the ruination of the realm in the Great Northern War, and the reaction tipped the balance of power to the other extreme end of the spectrum, ushering in the Age of Liberty. After half a century of largely unrestricted parliamentary rule proved just as ruinous, King Gustav III seized back royal power in the coup d'état of 1772, and later once again abolished the privy council under the Union and Security Act in 1789, which, in turn, was rendered void in 1809 when Gustav IV Adolf was deposed in a coup and the constitution of 1809 was put in its place. The years between 1789 and 1809, then, are also referred to as a period of absolute monarchy.
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Many nations formerly with absolute monarchies, such as Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco, have moved towards constitutional monarchy. However, in these cases the monarch still retains tremendous power, even to the extent that by some measures, parliament's influence on political life is viewed as negligible. [ citation needed ]
In Bhutan, the government moved from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy following planned parliamentary elections to the Tshogdu in 2003, and the election of a National Assembly in 2008.
Nepal had several swings between constitutional rule and direct rule related to the Nepalese Civil War, the Maoist insurgency, and the 2001 Nepalese royal massacre, with the Nepalese monarchy being abolished on 28 May 2008.
In Tonga, the King had majority control of the Legislative Assembly until 2010.
Liechtenstein has moved towards expanding the power of the monarch: the Prince of Liechtenstein was given expanded powers after a referendum amending the Constitution of Liechtenstein in 2003, which led the BBC to describe the prince as an "absolute monarch again".
|Realm||Image||Monarch||Born||Age||Reign Since||Reign Length||Succession||Ref(s)|
|Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace||Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah||15 July 1946||76 years, 75 days||4 October 1967||54 years, 359 days||Hereditary|
|Emirate of Sharjah||Ruler Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi||2 July 1939||83 years, 88 days||25 January 1972||50 years, 246 days||Hereditary|
|Emirate of Fujairah||Ruler Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi||22 February 1949||73 years, 218 days||1975||46–47 years||Hereditary|
|Emirate of Ajman||Ruler Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi III||1931||90–91 years||6 September 1981||41 years, 22 days||Hereditary|
|Kingdom of Eswatini||King Mswati III||19 April 1968||54 years, 162 days||25 April 1986||36 years, 156 days||Hereditary and elective|
|Emirate of Dubai||Ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum||15 July 1949||73 years, 75 days||4 January 2006||16 years, 267 days||Hereditary|
|Emirate of Umm al-Quwain||Ruler Saud bin Rashid Al Mualla||1 October 1952||69 years, 362 days||2 January 2009||13 years, 269 days||Hereditary|
|Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah||Ruler Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi||10 February 1956||66 years, 230 days||27 October 2010||11 years, 336 days||Hereditary|
|Vatican City State||Supreme Pontiff Francis||17 December 1936||85 years, 285 days||13 March 2013||9 years, 199 days||Elective|
|Kingdom of Saudi Arabia||King Salman bin Abdul‘aziz||31 December 1935||86 years, 271 days||23 January 2015||7 years, 248 days||Hereditary and elective|
|Sultanate of Oman||Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said||11 October 1954||67 years, 352 days||11 January 2020||2 years, 260 days||Hereditary|
|Emirate of Abu Dhabi||Ruler Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan||11 March 1961||61 years, 201 days||13 May 2022||138 days||Hereditary|
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, and according to the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia adopted by Royal Decree in 1992, the King must comply with Shari'a (Islamic law) and the Qur'an.The Qur'an and the body of the Sunnah (traditions of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad) are declared to be the Kingdom's Constitution, but no written modern constitution has ever been promulgated for Saudi Arabia, which remains the only Arab nation where no national elections have ever taken place since its founding. No political parties or national elections are permitted and according to The Economist's 2010 Democracy Index, the Saudi government is the eighth most authoritarian regime from among the 167 countries rated.
There is a considerable variety of opinion by historians on the extent of absolutism among European monarchs. Some, such as Perry Anderson, argue that quite a few monarchs achieved levels of absolutist control over their states, while historians such as Roger Mettam dispute the very concept of absolutism.In general, historians who disagree with the appellation of absolutism argue that most monarchs labeled as absolutist exerted no greater power over their subjects than any other non-absolutist rulers, and these historians tend to emphasize the differences between the absolutist rhetoric of monarchs and the realities of the effective use of power by these absolute monarchs. Renaissance historian William Bouwsma summed up this contradiction:
Nothing so clearly indicates the limits of royal power as the fact that governments were perennially in financial trouble, unable to tap the wealth of those ablest to pay, and likely to stir up a costly revolt whenever they attempted to develop an adequate income.— William Bouwsma
Anthropology, sociology, and ethology as well as various other disciplines such as political science attempt to explain the rise of absolute monarchy ranging from extrapolation generally, to certain Marxist explanations in terms of the class struggle as the underlying dynamic of human historical development generally and absolute monarchy in particular.
In the 17th century, French legal theorist Jean Domat defended the concept of absolute monarchy in works such as "On Social Order and Absolute Monarchy", citing absolute monarchy as preserving natural order as God intended.Other intellectual figures who supported absolute monarchy include Thomas Hobbes and Charles Maurras.
A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises their authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in decision making. Constitutional monarchies differ from absolute monarchies in that they are bound to exercise powers and authorities within limits prescribed by an established legal framework. Constitutional monarchies range from countries such as Liechtenstein, Monaco, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, and Bahrain, where the constitution grants substantial discretionary powers to the sovereign, to countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Japan, where the monarch retains significantly less personal discretion in the exercise of their authority.
A head of state is the public persona who officially embodies a state in its unity and legitimacy. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government and more.
A monarch is a head of state for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of state of a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in the state, or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Usually a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state's sovereign rights or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation's monarch. Alternatively, an individual may proclaim themself monarch, which may be backed and legitimated through acclamation, right of conquest or a combination of means.
A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restricted and largely symbolic, to fully autocratic, and can expand across the domains of the executive, legislative, and judicial.
The abolition of monarchy and anti-royalism is a legislative or revolutionary movement to abolish monarchical elements in government, usually hereditary.
Enlightened absolutism refers to the conduct and policies of European absolute monarchs during the 18th and early 19th centuries who were influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, espousing them to enhance their power. The concept originated during the Enlightenment period in the 18th and into the early 19th centuries.
The Trienio Liberal is a period of three years in the modern history of Spain between 1820 and 1823, when a liberal government ruled Spain after a military uprising in January 1820 by the lieutenant-colonel Rafael de Riego against the absolutist rule of Ferdinand VII.
The Political Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy, also known as the Constitution of Cádiz and as La Pepa, was the first Constitution of Spain and one of the earliest codified constitutions in world history. The Constitution was ratified on 19 March 1812 by the Cortes of Cádiz, the first Spanish legislature that included delegates from the entire nation, including Spanish America and the Philippines. "It defined Spanish and Spanish American liberalism for the early 19th century."
Absolute monarchy in France slowly emerged in the 16th century and became firmly established during the 17th century. Absolute monarchy is a variation of the governmental form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme authority and where that authority is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs. In France, Louis XIV was the most famous exemplar of absolute monarchy, with his court central to French political and cultural life during his reign. It ended in May 1789, when widespread social distress led to the convocation of the Estates-General, which was converted into a National Assembly in June. The Assembly passed a series of radical measures, including the abolition of feudalism, state control of the Catholic Church and extending the right to vote.
Monarchy was the prevalent form of government in the history of Europe throughout the Middle Ages, only occasionally competing with communalism, notably in the case of the Maritime republics and the Swiss Confederacy.
Absolutism or The Age of Absolutism is a historiographical term used to describe a form of monarchical power that is unrestrained by all other institutions, such as churches, legislatures, or social elites. Absolutism is typically used in conjunction with some European monarchs during the transition from feudalism to capitalism, and monarchs described as absolute can especially be found in the 16th century through the 19th century. Absolutism is characterized by the ending of feudal partitioning, consolidation of power with the monarch, rise of state power, unification of the state laws, and a decrease in the influence of the Church and the nobility.
The monarchy of Denmark is a constitutional institution and a historic office of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Kingdom includes Denmark proper, as well as the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland. The Kingdom of Denmark was already consolidated in the 8th century, whose rulers are consistently referred to in Frankish sources as "kings". Under the rule of King Gudfred in 804 the Kingdom may have included all the major provinces of medieval Denmark.
The monarchy of Thailand refers to the constitutional monarchy and monarch of the Kingdom of Thailand. The King of Thailand is the head of state and head of the ruling Royal House of Chakri.
Criticism of monarchy can be targeted against the general form of government—monarchy—or more specifically, to particular monarchical governments as controlled by hereditary royal families. In some cases, this criticism can be curtailed by legal restrictions and be considered criminal speech, as in lèse-majesté. Monarchies in Europe and their underlying concepts, such as the Divine Right of Kings, were often criticized during the Age of Enlightenment, which notably paved the way to the French Revolution and the proclamation of the abolition of the monarchy in France. Earlier, the American Revolution had seen the Patriots suppress the Loyalists and expel all royal officials. In this century, monarchies are present in the world in many forms with different degrees of royal power and involvement in civil affairs:
Monarchism is the advocacy of the system of monarchy or monarchical rule. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government independently of any specific monarch, whereas one who supports a particular monarch is a royalist. Conversely, the opposition to monarchical rule is referred to as republicanism.
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. Normally, that entity is an individual, the despot; but societies which limit respect and power to specific groups have also been called despotic.
The King's Law or Lex Regia was the absolutist constitution of Denmark and Norway from 1665 until 1849 and 1814, respectively. It established complete hereditary and absolute monarchy and formalized the king's absolute power, and is regarded the most sovereign form of all the European expressions of absolutism. Danish professor in legal history of the University of Copenhagen, Jens Chr. V. Johansen, asserts that with Europe's least circumscribed form of absolutism, Denmark "may be considered the most absolute of all the absolute European monarchies". It is the only formal constitution of any absolute monarchy, and has therefore been the subject of considerable historical and academic attention.
Joseon was an absolute monarchy
Seven absolute monarchs exercise political power over a federation established in 1971.