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Encyclopedia > Absolute monarchy

Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government where the monarch has the power to rule his or her land or country and its citizens freely, with no laws or legally-organized direct opposition in force. Although some religious authority may be able to discourage the monarch from some acts and the sovereign is expected to act according to custom, in an absolute monarchy there is no constitution or body of law above what is decreed by the sovereign (king or queen). As a theory of civics, absolute monarchy puts total trust in well-bred and well-trained monarchs raised for the role from birth. Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      This article applies to political and organizational ideologies. ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      An autocracy is a form of government in which the political power is held by a single person. ... This article is about a form of government in which the state operates under the control of a Communist Party. ... Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy,[1] comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate. ... Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principles of popular sovereignty by the peoples representatives. ... This does not cite its references or sources. ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A dictatorship is an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by a dictator. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... Kleptocracy (sometimes Cleptocracy) (root: Klepto+cracy = rule by thieves) is a pejorative, informal term for a government that is primarily designed to sustain the personal wealth and political power of government officials and their cronies (collectively, kleptocrats). ... Kritarchy is a form of government ruled by judges and is based on natural rights. ... A Krytocracy is a government ruled by judges. ... This article does not adequately cite its references. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... For the documentary series, see Monarchy (TV series). ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A constitutional monarchy is a form of government established under a constitutional system which acknowledges an elected or hereditary monarch as head of state, as opposed to an absolute monarchy, where the monarch is not bound by a... Ochlocracy (Greek: οχλοκρατια; Latin: ochlocratia) is government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of constitutional authorities. ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Oligarchy (Greek , Oligarkhía) is a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small, elite segment of society (whether distinguished by wealth, family or military powers). ... A plutocracy is a form of government where the states power is centralized in an affluent social class. ... Look up republic in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Classical republic. ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A constitutional republic is a state where the head of state and other officials are elected as representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the governments power over citizens. ... Parliamentary republics around the world, shown in Orange (Parliamentary republics with a non-executive President) and Green (Parliamentary republics with an executive President linked to Parliament). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Socialist state. ... A Capitalist Republic is the name for a Federal Republic with a Capitalist or Private Capital economic system that has a major outcome on elections or selections of major political leaders. ... States in which the constitution mandates power to a sole party are colored brown. ... The term thalassocracy (from the Greek Θαλασσο-κρατία) refers to a state with primarily maritime realms—an empire at sea, such as the Phoenician network of merchant cities. ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      For the metal band, refer to Theocracy (band). ... Theonomy The word theonomy derives from the Greek words “theos” God, and “nomos” law. ... For the documentary series, see Monarchy (TV series). ... GOVERNEMENT IS NOT A VIRGIN! Its F***ed Up We Pray To god that he give virginity back Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A form of government is a term that refers to the set of political institutions by which a state... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Law (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Monarch (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Monarch (disambiguation). ... Cleopatra is one of the most well-known queens regnant A queen regnant (plural queens regnant) is a woman monarch possessing and exercising all of the monarchal powers of a king, in contrast with a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king, and in and of her... Civics is the science of comparative government and means of administering public trusts—the theory of governance as applied to state institutions. ... // In sociology, manners are the unenforced standards of conduct which show the actor to be cultured, polite, and refined. ...


In theory, an absolute monarch has total power over his or her people and land, including the aristocracy and sometimes the clergy (see caesaropapism). In practice, absolute monarchs have often found their power limited—generally by one or other of those groups. Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      The term aristocracy refers to a form of government where power is held by a small number of individuals from an elite or from noble families. ... Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. ... Caesaropapism is the concept of combining the power of secular government with, or making it supreme to, the spiritual authority of the Christian Church; most especially, the inter-penetration of the theological authority of the Christian Church with the legal/juridical authority of the government; in its extreme form, it...


Some monarchies have powerless or symbolic parliaments and other governmental bodies that the monarch can alter or dissolve at will. Despite effectively being absolute monarchies, they are technically constitutional monarchies due to the existence of a constitution and national canon of law. For related meanings see also Monarch (disambiguation) A monarchy, (from the Greek monos archein, meaning one ruler) is a form of government that has a monarch as Head of State. ... A constitutional monarchy is a form of government established under a constitutional system which acknowledges a hereditary or elected monarch as head of state. ...


The popularity of the notion of absolute monarchy declined substantially after the French Revolution and American Revolution, which promoted theories of government based on popular sovereignty. Among the few states that retain a rather absolute monarchy are Brunei, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Vatican City. The French Revolution (1789–1815) was a period of political and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe as a whole, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on... John Trumbulls Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia The American Revolution refers to the period during the last half of the 18th century in which the Thirteen... Pooybuttpular sovereignty is the doctrine that the state is created by and therefore subject to the will of its people, who are the source of all political power. ...


Many formerly absolutist nations, such as Jordan and Morocco, have moved towards constitutional monarchies, although the monarch also retains considerable power in both nations. In Bhutan, the government had move from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy following planned parliamentary elections to the Tshogdu in 2003. 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. Unusually in a time when many nations are moving towards decreased monarchical power, 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 2004. Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A constitutional monarchy is a form of government established under a constitutional system which acknowledges an elected or hereditary monarch as head of state, as opposed to an absolute monarchy, where the monarch is not bound by a... The Tshogdu is the unicameral National Assembly of Bhutan (legislature). ... Direct Rule is the term given to the running of the day-to-day administration of Northern Ireland directly from Westminster. ... Combatants Government forces Communist Party Commanders Gyanendra of Nepal Prachanda Casualties 12,700+ deaths The Nepalese Civil War (labelled Peoples War by the Maoists [1]) was a conflict between monarchist government forces and Maoist rebels in Nepal which lasted from 1996 until 2006. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... The Nepalese royal massacre occurred on Saturday, June 1, 2001, at Narayanhity Royal Palace, the official residence of the Nepalese monarchy. ... On 15 August 2004, Hans Adam II formally delegated the power to make decisions in Liechtenstein to his son, Alois of Liechtenstein. ... Elections Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A referendum (plural: referendums or referenda) or plebiscite (from Latin plebiscita, originally a decree of the Concilium Plebis) is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. ... There has been a written constitution in the Principality of Liechtenstein since 5 October 1921. ...

Contents

Theories and history

The theory of absolute monarchy developed in the late Middle Ages from feudalism, during which a monarch was still very much the "first among equals" (primus inter pares) among the nobility. With the creation of centralized administrations and standing armies backed by expensive artillery, the power of the monarch gradually increased relative to that of the nobles (whose military power had declined with the effectiveness of heavy cavalry), and from this was created the theory of absolute monarchy. The word theory has a number of distinct meanings in different fields of knowledge, depending on their methodologies and the context of discussion. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... Nobility is a traditional hereditary status (see hereditary titles) that exists today in many countries (mainly present or former monarchies). ... An army unit consisting of mounted soldiers are commonly known as cavalry. ...


Divine right

Early absolutists advocated the theory of Divine Right of Kings to justify their position. In the 16th century, monarchs took advantage of the clergy's weakness during the Reformation to impose their will. They declared that they had the ability to decide the religion of their subjects. Henry VIII of England seized the property of the Catholic Church, while the French crown claimed "Gallican liberties". These new monarchs claimed to be responsible solely to God. The Divine Right of Kings is a European political and religious doctrine of political absolutism. ... (15th century - 16th century - 17th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century was that century which lasted from 1501 to 1600. ... The Protestant Reformation was a movement which began in the 16th century as a series of attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church, but ended in division and the establishment of new institutions, most importantly Lutheranism, Reformed churches, and Anabaptists. ... “Henry VIII” redirects here. ...


In response to the political chaos of the Reformation, political theorists such as Jean Bodin developed a sophisticated theory of sovereignty, which asserted that the king alone could arbitrate power. Kings attempted to eliminate or marginalize customs, institutions, and laws that had held their predecessors in check. They believed that God gave them the right to supreme rule and sovereignty over their land. Those that claimed to have the divine right of kings often ruled in an unfair and egotistical manner, much like a modern dictator, and some were overthrown. One of the most famous examples of a monarch claiming his divine right to rule was Louis XIV of France. He famously declared: "L'état c'est moi." ("I am the state.") Jean Bodin (1530-1596) was a French jurist, member of the Parliament of Paris and professor of Law in Toulouse. ... A dictator is an absolutist or autocratic ruler who assumes sole power over the state, though the term is normally not applied to an absolute monarch. ... Louis XIV King of France and Navarre By Hyacinthe Rigaud (1701) Louis XIV (Louis-Dieudonné) (September 5, 1638–September 1, 1715) reigned as King of France and King of Navarre from May 14, 1643 until his death. ...


Thomas Hobbes

Hobbes theorized that all the people should invest their power and rights in a "sovereign", in what was a seminal work of social contract theory, Leviathan. Without a sovereign, man lived in a state of nature which was governed by the passions of man, which manifested themselves in an all-against-all state of war; life in this state of nature was, for Hobbes, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short". Through the social contract, each individual would give up his natural rights in order to be under the protection of the sovereign, who would secure the peace and defense of each individual. “Hobbes” redirects here. ... This article deals with the philosophical and political concept of the social contract, and not with juridical contract theory. ... Frontispiece of Leviathan, etching by Abraham Bosse, with input from Hobbes For other uses, see Leviathan (disambiguation). ... State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition of humanity before the states foundation and its monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. ...


By surrendering one's rights to the sovereign, one gave up any right to rebel, and indeed, could not logically rebel, as the individual was a constituent part of the sovereign, and one's rights could not be separated from it. The sovereign, thus, by definition only acted in the interest of the subject. The contract could only be broken when the sovereign could no longer provide for the peace and defense of the subject; without its raison d'être, the sovereign simply ceased to exist; man reverted to the state of nature until a new contract could be made.


While the "sovereign" is generally assumed to be a monarch, it merely indicates an absolute government, which could take the form of a republic or even a democracy (as in totalitarian democracy). Hobbes himself favored a hereditary monarch for reasons of stability. Totalitarian democracy is a term coined by Israeli historian J. L. Talmon to refer to a system of government in which lawfully elected representatives maintain the integrity of a nation state whose citizens, while granted the right to vote, have little or no participation in the decision-making process of...


The leviathan state, and most importantly the absolute monarchy, would later be criticized by John Locke in the Two Treatises of Government. Locke's conception of the state of nature vastly differed from Hobbes, as did his conclusion on the rights of the governed. Despite these differences, both works were later viewed by some scholars (most notably C. B. Macpherson) as seminal examples of possessive individualism, with the function of the state being to provide a secure environment in which individuals can enjoy property rights. For other persons named John Locke, see John Locke (disambiguation). ... The Two Treatises of Government (or Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, And His Followers, are Detected and Overthrown. ... State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition of humanity before the states foundation and its monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. ... Crawford Brough Macpherson (1911 - 1987) was a Canadian political scientist, who taught political theory at the University of Toronto. ...


Enlightened despotism

During the Enlightenment, the theory of absolute monarchy was supported by many French philosophes as a form of enlightened despotism. The philosophers argued that only an enlightened monarch can introduce progressive reforms to curtail feudalism and reactionary clergy. However, it must be pointed out that while Louis XV and Louis XVI were absolute monarchs in theory, they had to contend with many private interests, some of which opposed reforms, such as the great nobility and the parlements. Enlightened despotism was discredited with the fall of Napoleon. ... The Philosophes (French for Philosophers) were a group of French thinkers of the 18th century Enlightenment. ... Enlightened absolutism (also known as enlightened despotism) is the absolutist rule of an enlightened monarch . ... Louis XV, called the Beloved (French: le Bien-Aimé) (February 15, 1710 – May 10, 1774), ruled as King of France and Navarre from 1715 until his death. ... Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste de France (23 August 1754 – 21 January 1793) ruled as King of France and Navarre from 1774 until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792. ... Nobility is a traditional hereditary status (see hereditary titles) that exists today in many countries (mainly present or former monarchies). ... This article is for the Ancien Régime institution. ... For other uses, see Napoleon (disambiguation). ...


Historical examples

One of the best-known historical examples of an absolute monarch was Louis XIV of France (as stated above - see "divine rights"). His famous statement, L'état, c'est moi (I am the state), summarises the fundamental principle of absolute monarchy (sovereignty being vested in one individual). Although often criticised for his extravagance (his great legacy is the huge Palace of Versailles), he reigned over France for a long period, and some historians consider him a successful absolute monarch. More recently, revisionist historians have questioned whether Louis' reign should be considered 'absolute', given the reality of the balance of power between the monarch and the nobility.[1] Louis XIV King of France and Navarre By Hyacinthe Rigaud (1701) Louis XIV (Louis-Dieudonné) (September 5, 1638–September 1, 1715) reigned as King of France and King of Navarre from May 14, 1643 until his death. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Until 1905, the Tsars of Russia also governed as absolute monarchs. Peter the Great reduced the power of the nobility and strengthened the central power of the Tsar, establishing a bureaucracy and a police state. This tradition of absolutism was built on by Catherine the Great and other later Tsars. 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. Peter I Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia Peter I (Pyotr Alekseyvich) (9 June 1672–8 February 1725 [30 May 1672–28 January 1725 O.S.1]) ruled Russia from 7 May (27 April O.S.) 1682 until his death. ... Nobility is a traditional hereditary status (see hereditary titles) that exists today in many countries (mainly present or former monarchies). ... Tsar (Bulgarian, Serbian and Macedonian цар, Russian  , in scientific transliteration respectively car and car ), occasionally spelled Czar or Tzar and sometimes Csar or Zar in English, is a Slavonic term designating certain monarchs. ... A police state is a political condition where the government maintains strict control over society, particularly through suspension of civil rights and often with the use of a force of secret police. ... Catherine II (Екатерина II Алексеевна: Yekaterína II Alekséyevna, April 21, 1729 - November 6, 1796), born Sophie Augusta Fredericka, known as Catherine the Great, reigned as empress of Russia from... Alexander (Aleksandr) II Nikolaevich (Russian: Александр II Николаевич) (Moscow, 29 April 1818 – 13 March 1881 in St. ... (Redirected from 1905 Revolution) The Russian Revolution of 1905 was a country-wide spasm of anti-government and undirected violence. ...


Throughout much of history, the Divine Right of Kings was the theological justification for absolute monarchy. Many European kings, such as the Tsars of Russia, claimed that they held supreme autocratic power by divine right, and that their subjects had no right to limit their power. James I and Charles I of England tried to import this principle into England; fears that Charles I was attempting to establish absolutist government along European lines was a major cause of the English Civil War. By the 19th century, the Divine Right was regarded as an obsolete theory in most countries, except in Russia where it was still given credence as the official justification for the Tsar's power. The Divine Right of Kings is a European political and religious doctrine of political absolutism. ... James VI and I (19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scots as James VI, and King of England and King of Ireland as James I. He ruled in Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567, when he was only one year old, succeeding his mother Mary... Charles I (19 November 1600 – 30 January 1649) was King of England, King of Scotland and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see English Civil War (disambiguation). ...


In Denmark-Norway the system was underpinned by the 1665 Lex Regia whose § 2 stipulates 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. [1] This law consequently authorized the king to abolish all other centres of power. Most important was the abolition of the Council of the Realm. The Kingdom of Denmark-Norway, consisting of Denmark and Norway, including Norways possessions Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, is a term used for the two united kingdoms after their amalgamation as one state in 1536. ... Year 1665 (MDCLXV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Sunday of the 10-day slower Julian calendar). ... Rigsraadet (Eng. ...


Social mechanisms leading to absolute monarchies

According to Norbert Elias's The Civilizing Process, the reason why monarchs like Louis XIV could enjoy such great power is to be found in the layout of the societies of that time, more precisely in the fact that they could play off against each other two rivaling groups within society, namely the rising bourgeoisie, who received growing wealth from commerce and industrial production, and the nobility, who lived off the land and administrative functions. (In the Middle Ages, the nobility served a useful function--fighting wars--which justified their wealth to some degree. After the development of the longbow and firearms made the heavily armored knight less useful than before, the nobility's position became harder to justify.) Norbert Elias (born June 22, 1897 in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland); died August 1, 1990 in Amsterdam) was a German sociologist of Jewish descent, who later became a British citizen. ... The book The Civilizing Process written by German sociologist Norbert Elias was an influential work in sociology. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Nobility is a traditional hereditary status (see hereditary titles) that exists today in many countries (mainly present or former monarchies). ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... Lemonwood, purpleheart and hickory longbow, 45 lbf draw force. ... A Glock 22 hand-held firearm with internal laser sight and mounted flashlight, surrounded by hollowpoint ammunition. ... The silver Anglia knight, commissioned as a trophy in 1850, intended to represent the Black Prince. ...


See also

Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A constitutional monarchy is a form of government established under a constitutional system which acknowledges an elected or hereditary monarch as head of state, as opposed to an absolute monarchy, where the monarch is not bound by a... “Hobbes” redirects here. ... The Monarchomachs (French: Monarchomaques) were originally French Huguenots theorists who opposed absolute monarchy at the end of the 16th century, known in particular for having theorized tyrannicide. ... The French Wars of Religion were a series of conflicts fought between Catholics and Huguenots (Protestants) from the middle of the sixteenth century to the Edict of Nantes in 1598, including civil infighting as well as military operations. ... The right of rebellion is a right permitted by John Locke in his social contract theory. ... Tyrannicide literally means the killing of a tyrant. ...

References

  1. ^ Mettam, R. Power and Faction in Louis XIV's France, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Chemistry - Absolute monarchy (407 words)
The theory of absolute monarchy developed in the late Middle Ages from feudalism during which monarchs were still very much first among equals among the nobility.
A classic example of an absolute monarchy is that of Louis XIV of France.
During the Enlightenment, the theory of absolute monarchy was supported by some intellectuals as a form of enlightened despotism.
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