This article possibly contains original research . (September 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Part of a series of articles on|
|Part of the Politics series|
|Basic forms of government|
Absolute monarchy(or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme autocratic authority, principally not being restricted by written laws, legislature, or unwritten customs. These are often hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in constitutional monarchies, the head of state's authority derives from or is legally bound or restricted by a constitution, legislature or unwritten customs.
The widespread concept absolute monarchy in Europe declined substantially after the French Revolution and World War I, which promoted theories of government based on the notion of popular sovereignty.
Some monarchies have a weak or symbolic legislature and other governmental bodies which the monarch can alter or dissolve at will. Countries where monarchs still maintain absolute power are 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 Ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh wielded absolute power over the country and was considered a living god by his people. In ancient Mesopotamia, many rulers of Assyria, Babylonia and Sumer were absolute monarchs as well. In ancient and medieval India, rulers of the Maratha ,Maurya, Satavahana, Gupta, Chola and Chalukya Empires, as well as other major and minor empires, were considered absolute monarchs. In Maratha Empire, the emperors were called Chhatrapati ' Lord of Parasol' . Like that the Khmer Empire, the kings were called Devaraja 'god-king' and Chakravartin , and exercised absolute power over the empire and people.
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.
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. James VI and I and his son Charles I tried to import this principle 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. By the 19th 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.
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
In the Ottoman Empire, many sultans wielded absolute power through heavenly mandates reflected in their title, the "Shadow of God on Earth".
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.
Though some historians[ who? ] doubt it, 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 ] A theory tells that that he built opulent palace of Versailles, and give preferment only to nobles who live in them to gather nobility in Paris and to concentrate power as centralized government. This policy also add effect in separating nobles and their feudal army.
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.
In 1653, the Diet of Brandenburg met for the last time and gave Frederick William the power to raise taxes without its consent, a strong indicator of absolutism.[ disputed ] Frederick William enjoyed support from the nobles, who enabled the Great Elector to undermine the Diet 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.
This section needs additional citations for verification . (May 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Many nations formerly with absolute monarchies, such as Jordan, Kuwait and Morocco, have moved towards constitutional monarchy, although in these cases the monarch still retains tremendous power, to the point that the parliament's influence on political life is 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".
The ruling Kim family of North Korea (Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un) has been described as a de facto absolute monarchyor "hereditary dictatorship". In 2013, Clause 2 of Article 10 of the new edited Ten Fundamental Principles of the Korean Workers' Party states that the party and revolution must be carried "eternally" by the "Paektu (Kim's) bloodline".
|Realm||Image||Monarch||Born||Age||Reign Since||Reign Length||Succession||Ref(s)|
|Brunei Darussalam||Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah||15 July 1946||74 years, 314 days||4 October 1967||53 years, 233 days||Hereditary|
|Sultanate of Oman||Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said||11 October 1954||66 years, 226 days||11 January 2020||1 year, 134 days||Hereditary|
|Kingdom of Saudi Arabia||King Salman bin Abdul‘aziz||31 December 1935||85 years, 145 days||23 January 2015||6 years, 122 days||Hereditary and elective|
|Vatican City State||Pope Francis||17 December 1936||84 years, 159 days||13 March 2013||8 years, 73 days||Elective|
|Kingdom of Eswatini||King Mswati III||19 April 1968||53 years, 36 days||25 April 1986||35 years, 30 days||Hereditary and elective|
|Realm||Image||Monarch||Born||Age||Reign Since||Reign Length||Succession||Ref(s)|
|State of Qatar||Emir Tamim bin Hamad||3 June 1980||40 years, 356 days||25 June 2013||7 years, 334 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.
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 have supported absolute monarchy include Thomas Hobbes and Charles Maurras.
A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. 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 the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Malaysia and Japan, where the monarch retains significantly less personal discretion in the exercise of their authority.
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. A monarchy can be a polity through unity, personal union, vassalage or federation, and monarchs can carry various titles such as emperor, king, queen, raja, khan, caliph, tsar, sultan, shah, or pharaoh.
A republic is a form of government in which "power is held by the people and their elected representatives". In republics, the country is considered a "public matter", not the private concern or property of the rulers. The primary positions of power within a republic are attained through democracy or a mix of democracy with oligarchy or autocracy rather than being unalterably occupied by any given family lineage or group. With modern republicanism, it has become the opposing form of government to a monarchy and therefore a modern republic has no monarch as head of state.
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers from the same family, usually in the context of a feudal or monarchical system, but sometimes also appearing in republics. Alternative terms for "dynasty" may include "house", "family" and "clan", among others. The longest-surviving dynasty in the world is the Imperial House of Japan, otherwise known as the Yamato dynasty, whose reign is traditionally dated to 660 BC.
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.
An elective monarchy is a monarchy ruled by an elected monarch, in contrast to a hereditary monarchy in which the office is automatically passed down as a family inheritance. The manner of election, the nature of candidate qualifications, and the electors vary from case to case. Historically it was not uncommon for elective monarchies to transform into hereditary ones over time, or for hereditary ones to acquire at least occasional elective aspects.
The New Monarchs was a concept developed by European historians during the first half of the 20th century to characterize 15th-century European rulers who unified their respective nations, creating stable and centralized governments. This centralization allowed for an era of worldwide colonization and conquest in the 16th century, and paved the way for rapid economic growth in Europe. Many historians argue the Military Revolution made possible, and indeed made necessary, formation of strong central governments in order to maximize military strength that could enable conquest and prevent being conquered.
Golden Liberty, sometimes referred to as Golden Freedoms, Nobles' Democracy or Nobles' Commonwealth was a political system in the Kingdom of Poland and, after the Union of Lublin (1569), in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Under that system, all nobles (szlachta), regardless of rank or economic status, were considered to have equal legal status and enjoyed extensive legal rights and privileges. The nobility controlled the legislature and the Commonwealth's elected king.
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 constitutions in world history.
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.
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.
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 countries 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 current unified Kingdom of Denmark was founded or re-united by the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth in the 10th century. Originally an elective monarchy, it became hereditary only in the 17th century during the reign of Frederick III. A decisive transition to a constitutional monarchy occurred in 1849 with the writing of the first democratic Constitution, replacing the vast majority of the old absolutist Constitution. The current Royal House is a branch of the princely family of Glücksburg, originally from Schleswig-Holstein in modern-day Germany, the same royal house as the Norwegian and former Greek royal families.
Tsarist autocracy, also called Tsarism, is a form of autocracy specific to the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which later became Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire. In it, all power and wealth is controlled by the Tsar. They had more power than constitutional monarchs, who are usually vested by law and counterbalanced by a legislative authority; and more authority on religious issues compared to Western monarchs. In Russia, it originated during the time of Ivan III (1462−1505), and was abolished after the Russian Revolution of 1905.
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.
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.
King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, while the title of queen on its own usually refers to the consort of a king.
Joseon was an absolute monarchy