Abdication

Abdication is the act of formally relinquishing monarchical authority. Abdications have played various roles in the succession procedures of monarchies. While some cultures have viewed abdication as an extreme abandonment of duty, in other societies (such as pre-Meiji Restoration Japan), abdication was a regular event, and helped maintain stability during political succession.

Historically, abdications have either occurred by force (where the regnant was forced to abdicate on pain of death or other severe consequences) or voluntarily. Some rulers are ruled to have abdicated in absentia, vacating the physical throne and thus their position of power, although these judgments were generally pronounced by successors with vested interest in seeing the throne abdicated, and often without or despite the direct input of the abdicating monarch.

Recently, due to the largely ceremonial nature of the regnant in many constitutional monarchies, many monarchs have abdicated due to old age, such as the monarchs of Spain, Cambodia, and the Netherlands.

Bouchot - Napoléon signe son abdication à Fontainebleau 4 avril 1814
Napoleon's first abdication, signed at the Palace of Fontainebleau 4 April 1814
Abdicacao Pedro I do Brasil
Dom Pedro I, founder and Emperor of the Empire of Brazil, delivers his abdication letter on 7 April 1831

Terminology

Tomb effigy of heart of King John II Casimir Vasa at Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés -in Paris
Tomb effigy of heart of King John II Casimir Vasa at Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, showing removal of the crown

The word abdication is derived from the Latin abdicatio meaning to disown or renounce (from ab, away from, and dicare, to dedicate or relinquish). In its broadest sense abdication is the act of renouncing and resigning from any formal office, but it is applied especially to the supreme office of state. In Roman law the term was also applied to the disowning of a family member, such as the disinheriting of a son. Today the term commonly applies to monarchs, or to those who have been formally crowned. An elected or appointed official is said to resign rather than to abdicate. A notable exception is the voluntary relinquishing of the office of Bishop of Rome (and thus Sovereign of the Vatican City State) by the Pope, called Papal resignation or Papal renunciation.

Historical examples

In certain cultures, the abdication of a monarch was seen as a profound and shocking abandonment of royal duty. As a result, abdications usually only occurred in the most extreme circumstances of political turmoil or violence. For other cultures, abdication was a much more routine element of succession.

The Roman Empire

Among the most notable abdications of antiquity are those of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the Dictator, in 79 BC; Emperor Diocletian in AD 305; and Emperor Romulus Augustulus in AD 476.

The British Empire and the British Commonwealth

Perhaps the most notable abdication in recent history is that of King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom and the Dominions. In 1936 Edward abdicated to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson, over the objections of the British establishment, the governments of the Commonwealth, the Royal Family and the Church of England. It was the first time in history that the British or English crown was surrendered entirely voluntarily. Richard II of England, for example, was forced to abdicate after power was seized by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, while Richard was abroad.

During the Glorious Revolution in 1688, James II of England and VII of Scotland fled to France, dropping the Great Seal of the Realm into the Thames, and the question was discussed in Parliament whether he had forfeited the throne or had abdicated. The latter designation was agreed upon in spite of James's protest, and in a full assembly of the Lords and Commons it was resolved "that King James II having endeavoured to subvert the constitution of the kingdom, by breaking the original contract between king and people, and, by the advice of Jesuits and other wicked persons, having violated the fundamental laws, and having withdrawn himself out of this kingdom, has abdicated the government, and that the throne is thereby vacant." The Scottish parliament pronounced a decree of forfeiture and deposition.

In Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scots, was forced to abdicate in favour of her one-year-old son, James VI.

Today, because the title to the Crown depends upon statute, particularly the Act of Settlement 1701, a royal abdication can be effected only by an Act of Parliament; under the terms of the Statute of Westminster 1931, such an act must be agreed by the parliaments of all extant signatories of the Statute. To give legal effect to the abdication of King Edward VIII, His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 was passed.

Japan

In Japanese history, abdication was used very often, and in fact occurred more often than death on the throne. In those days, most executive authority resided in the hands of regents (see Sesshō and Kampaku), and the Emperor's chief task was priestly, containing so many repetitive rituals that it was deemed the incumbent Emperor deserved pampered retirement as an honored retired emperor after a service of around ten years. A tradition developed that an Emperor should accede to the throne relatively young. The high-priestly duties were deemed possible for a walking child; and a dynast who had passed his toddler years was regarded as suitable and old enough; reaching the age of legal majority was not a requirement. Thus, many Japanese Emperors have acceded as children, some only 6 or 8 years old. Childhood apparently helped the monarch to endure tedious duties and to tolerate subjugation to political power-brokers, as well as sometimes to cloak the truly powerful members of the imperial dynasty. Almost all Japanese empresses and dozens of Emperors abdicated and lived the rest of their lives in pampered retirement, wielding influence behind the scenes, often with more power than they had had while on the throne (see Cloistered rule). Several Emperors abdicated while still in their teens. These traditions show in Japanese folklore, theater, literature and other forms of culture, where the Emperor is usually described or depicted as an adolescent.

Before the Meiji Restoration, Japan had eleven reigning empresses. Over half of Japanese empresses abdicated once a suitable male descendant was considered to be old enough to rule.

Since the Meiji Restoration and the subsequent reorganization of imperial succession, no Emperor has abdicated and all have died on the throne. There is also no provision for abdication in the Imperial Household Law, the Meiji Constitution, or the current 1947 Constitution of Japan.

After the defeat of Japan in World War II, many members of the Imperial Family, such as Princes Chichibu, Takamatsu and Higashikuni, pressured then-Emperor Hirohito to abdicate so that one of the Princes could serve as regent until Crown Prince Akihito came of age.[1] On February 27, 1946, the Emperor's youngest brother, Prince Mikasa (Takahito), even stood up in the privy council and indirectly urged the Emperor to step down and accept responsibility for Japan's defeat. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur insisted that Emperor Hirohito remain on the throne. MacArthur saw the Emperor as a symbol of the continuity and cohesion of the Japanese people.

On 13 July 2016, national broadcaster NHK reported that the Emperor intended to abdicate in favor of his eldest son Crown Prince Naruhito within a few years, citing his age; an abdication within the Imperial Family has not occurred since Emperor Kōkaku abdicated in 1817. However, senior officials within the Imperial Household Agency have denied that there is any official plan for the monarch to abdicate. A potential abdication by the Emperor would require an amendment to the Imperial Household Law, which currently has no provisions for such a move.[2][3] On 8 August 2016, the Emperor gave a rare televised address, where he emphasized his advanced age and declining health;[4] this address is interpreted as an implication of his intention to abdicate.[5] On 1 December 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that Emperor Akihito will step down on 30 April 2019. The announcement came after a meeting of the Imperial Household Council.[6]

Other examples in recent history

Christina of Sweden's abdication 1654
To move to Rome and serve the Pope, Queen Christina of Sweden (daughter of Protestant champion Gustav II Adolph of Sweden) abdicated and shocked Europe

Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi, Sharif of Mecca abdicated the Kingdom of Hejaz in October 1924.

In recent decades, the monarchs or leaders of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Vatican City state, Qatar, Cambodia, and Bhutan have abdicated as a result of old age. In the Netherlands, the last three monarchs Wilhelmina, Juliana, and Beatrix have all abdicated. In all three instances, this was done to pass the throne to the heir sooner.

In June 2014, King Juan Carlos of Spain announced his intent to abdicate in favor of his son, Felipe.[7] Felipe took the throne as King Felipe VI on June 19.[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ Bix 2000, pp. 571–573.
  2. ^ "天皇陛下 「生前退位」の意向示される ("His Majesty The Emperor Indicates His Intention to 'Abdicate'")" (in Japanese). NHK. 13 July 2016. Archived from the original on 13 July 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  3. ^ "Japanese Emperor Akihito 'wishes to abdicate'". BBC News. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Message from His Majesty The Emperor". The Imperial Household Agency. 8 August 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  5. ^ "Japan's Emperor Akihito hints at wish to abdicate". BBC News. 8 August 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Japan's Emperor Akihito to abdicate in April 2019". BBC News. 1 December 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  7. ^ "King of Spain to Abdicate for Son, Prince Felipe". VOA News. June 2, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
  8. ^ "Spain's King Attends Last Parade Before Abdication". Time Magazine. Associated Press. June 8, 2014. Retrieved June 8, 2014.

Attribution

  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: The New Century Book of Facts. Springfield, Massachusetts: King-Richardson Company. 1911.

External links

2019 Japanese imperial transition

Emperor Akihito of Japan is set to abdicate on 30 April 2019, which will make him the first Japanese Emperor to do so in over two centuries. This marks the end of the Heisei period, and will precipitate numerous festivities leading up to the accession of his successor, Crown Prince Naruhito. The enthronement ceremony will likely happen on 22 October 2019. Akihito's younger son, Prince Fumihito, is expected to become his brother's heir presumptive.

Beatrix of the Netherlands

Beatrix of the Netherlands (Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, Dutch pronunciation: [ˈbeːjaːtrɪks ˌʋɪlɦɛlˈminaː ˈʔɑrmɡɑrt] (listen); born 31 January 1938) is a member of the Dutch royal family who reigned as Queen of the Netherlands from 30 April 1980 until her abdication on 30 April 2013.

Beatrix is the eldest daughter of Queen Juliana and her husband, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. Upon her mother's accession in 1948, she became heir presumptive. Beatrix attended a public primary school in Canada during World War II, and then finished her primary and secondary education in the Netherlands in the post-war period. In 1961, she received her law degree from Leiden University. In 1966, Beatrix married Claus von Amsberg, a German diplomat, with whom she had three children. When her mother abdicated on 30 April 1980, Beatrix succeeded her as queen.

Beatrix's reign saw the country's Caribbean possessions reshaped with Aruba's secession and becoming its own constituent country within the Kingdom in 1986 as well as the subsequent Antillean Dissolution in 2010, which created the new special municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, and the two new constituent countries of Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

On Koninginnedag (Queen's Day), 30 April 2013, Beatrix abdicated in favour of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, and resumed the title of princess. At the time of her abdication at age 75, Beatrix was the oldest reigning monarch in the country's history.

Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg

Charlotte (Charlotte Adelgonde Élise/Elisabeth Marie Wilhelmine; 23 January 1896 – 9 July 1985) reigned as Grand Duchess of Luxembourg from 1919 until her abdication in 1964.

She acceded to the throne on 14 January 1919 following the abdication of her sister, Marie-Adélaïde, due to political pressure. There had been controversies surrounding some of Marie-Adélaïde’s actions and calls for her abdication by some began to appear in parliament due to her being seen as cordial to the Germans that occupied Luxembourg during the First World War. Later, a double referendum on whether to retain the monarchy or become a republic and on the economic orientation of the country was held on 28 September 1919. In it, the majority voted to retain Charlotte as grand duchess.

She married Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma on 6 November 1919 with whom she would have six children. Following the 1940 German invasion of Luxembourg during the Second World War, Charlotte went into exile first in France, then Portugal, the United Kingdom, and North America. While in London, she began making broadcasts to the people of Luxembourg. She would return to Luxembourg in April 1945.

She abdicated in 1964 and was succeeded by her son Jean. Charlotte died from cancer on 9 July 1985.

She was the last agnatic member of the House of Nassau.

Duke of Windsor

The Duke of Windsor was a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 8 March 1937, for former King Edward VIII, following his abdication on 11 December 1936. The dukedom takes its name from the town where Windsor Castle, a residence of English monarchs since the time of Henry I, following the Norman Conquest, is situated. Windsor has been the house name of the royal family since 1917.

Edward II of England

Edward II (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327), also called Edward of Carnarvon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed in January 1327. The fourth son of Edward I, Edward became the heir apparent to the throne following the death of his elder brother Alphonso. Beginning in 1300, Edward accompanied his father on campaigns to pacify Scotland, and in 1306 was knighted in a grand ceremony at Westminster Abbey. Following his father's death, Edward succeeded to the throne in 1307. He married Isabella of France, the daughter of the powerful King Philip IV, in 1308, as part of a long-running effort to resolve tensions between the English and French crowns.

Edward had a close and controversial relationship with Piers Gaveston, who had joined his household in 1300. The precise nature of his and Gaveston's relationship is uncertain; they may have been friends, lovers or sworn brothers. Gaveston's arrogance and power as Edward's favourite provoked discontent among both the barons and the French royal family, and Edward was forced to exile him. On Gaveston's return, the barons pressured the king into agreeing to wide-ranging reforms, called the Ordinances of 1311. The newly empowered barons banished Gaveston, to which Edward responded by revoking the reforms and recalling his favourite. Led by Edward's cousin, the Earl of Lancaster, a group of the barons seized and executed Gaveston in 1312, beginning several years of armed confrontation. English forces were pushed back in Scotland, where Edward was decisively defeated by Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Widespread famine followed, and criticism of the king's reign mounted.

The Despenser family, in particular Hugh Despenser the Younger, became close friends and advisers to Edward, but Lancaster and many of the barons seized the Despensers' lands in 1321, and forced the King to exile them. In response, Edward led a short military campaign, capturing and executing Lancaster. Edward and the Despensers strengthened their grip on power, formally revoking the 1311 reforms, executing their enemies and confiscating estates. Unable to make progress in Scotland, Edward finally signed a truce with Robert. Opposition to the regime grew, and when Isabella was sent to France to negotiate a peace treaty in 1325, she turned against Edward and refused to return. Instead, she allied herself with the exiled Roger Mortimer, and invaded England with a small army in 1326. Edward's regime collapsed and he fled to Wales, where he was captured in November. The king was forced to relinquish his crown in January 1327 in favour of his 14-year-old son, Edward III, and he died in Berkeley Castle on 21 September, probably murdered on the orders of the new regime.

Edward's relationship with Gaveston inspired Christopher Marlowe's 1592 play Edward II, along with other plays, films, novels and media. Many of these have focused on the possible sexual relationship between the two men. Edward's contemporaries criticised his performance as king, noting his failures in Scotland and the oppressive regime of his later years, although 19th-century academics later argued that the growth of parliamentary institutions during his reign was a positive development for England over the longer term. Debate has continued into the 21st century as to whether Edward was a lazy and incompetent king, or simply a reluctant and ultimately unsuccessful ruler.

Edward VIII

Edward VIII (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David; 23 June 1894 – 28 May 1972) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire, and Emperor of India, from 20 January 1936 until his abdication on 11 December the same year, after which he became the Duke of Windsor.

Edward was the eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary. He was created Prince of Wales on his sixteenth birthday, nine weeks after his father succeeded as king. As a young man, he served in the British Army during the First World War and undertook several overseas tours on behalf of his father.

Edward became king on his father's death in early 1936. However, he showed impatience with court protocol, and caused concern among politicians by his apparent disregard for established constitutional conventions. Only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis by proposing to Wallis Simpson, an American who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second. The prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the Dominions opposed the marriage, arguing a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands was politically and socially unacceptable as a prospective queen consort. Additionally, such a marriage would have conflicted with Edward's status as the titular head of the Church of England, which at the time disapproved of remarriage after divorce if a former spouse was still alive. Edward knew the British government, led by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, would resign if the marriage went ahead, which could have forced a general election and would ruin his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch. When it became apparent he could not marry Wallis and remain on the throne, Edward abdicated. He was succeeded by his younger brother, George VI. With a reign of 326 days, Edward is one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British history.

After his abdication, he was created Duke of Windsor. He married Wallis in France on 3 June 1937, after her second divorce became final. Later that year, the couple toured Germany. During the Second World War, he was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France, but after private accusations that he held Nazi sympathies he was appointed Governor of the Bahamas. After the war, Edward spent the rest of his life in retirement in France. Edward and Wallis remained married until his death in 1972.

Edward VIII abdication crisis

In 1936, a constitutional crisis in the British Empire arose when King-Emperor Edward VIII proposed to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who was divorced from her first husband and was pursuing the divorce of her second.

The marriage was opposed by the governments of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Religious, legal, political, and moral objections were raised. As British monarch, Edward was the nominal head of the Church of England, which did not then allow divorced people to remarry in church if their ex-spouses were still alive. For this reason, it was widely believed that Edward could not marry Simpson and remain on the throne. Simpson was perceived to be politically and socially unsuitable as a prospective queen consort because of her two failed marriages. It was widely assumed by the Establishment that she was driven by love of money or position rather than love for the King. Despite the opposition, Edward declared that he loved Simpson and intended to marry her as soon as her second divorce was finalised.

The widespread unwillingness to accept Simpson as the King's consort and Edward's refusal to give her up led to his abdication in December 1936. He was succeeded by his brother George VI. Edward was given the title His Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor following his abdication, and he married Simpson the following year. They remained married until his death 35 years later.

February Revolution

The February Revolution (Russian: Февра́льская револю́ция, IPA: [fʲɪvˈralʲskəjə rʲɪvɐˈlʲutsɨjə], tr. Febrálʹskaya revolyútsiya), known in Soviet historiography as the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution, was the first of two revolutions which took place in Russia in 1917.

The main events of the revolution took place in and near Petrograd (present-day St. Petersburg), the then-capital of Russia, where long-standing discontent with the monarchy erupted into mass protests against food rationing on 23 February Old Style (8 March New Style). Revolutionary activity lasted about eight days, involving mass demonstrations and violent armed clashes with police and gendarmes, the last loyal forces of the Russian monarchy. On 27 February O.S. (12 March N.S.) mutinous Russian Army forces sided with the revolutionaries. Three days later Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, ending Romanov dynastic rule and the Russian Empire. A Russian Provisional Government under Prince Georgy Lvov replaced the Council of Ministers of Russia.

The revolution appeared to break out without any real leadership or formal planning. Russia had been suffering from a number of economic and social problems, which compounded after the start of World War I in 1914. Disaffected soldiers from the city's garrison joined bread rioters, primarily women in bread lines, and industrial strikers on the streets. As more and more troops deserted, and with loyal troops away at the Front, the city fell into chaos, leading to the overthrow of the Tsar. In all, over 1,300 people were killed during the protests of February 1917.

Glorious Revolution

The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, was the overthrow of King James II of England (James VII of Scotland) by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III, Prince of Orange, who was James's nephew and son-in-law. William's successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to his ascension to the throne as William III of England jointly with his wife, Mary II, James's daughter, after the Declaration of Right, leading to the Bill of Rights 1689.

King James's policies of religious tolerance after 1685 met with increasing opposition from members of leading political circles, who were troubled by the King's Catholicism and his close ties with France. The crisis facing the King came to a head in 1688, with the birth of his son, James, on 10 June (Julian calendar). This changed the existing line of succession by displacing the heir presumptive (his 26-year-old daughter Mary, a Protestant and the wife of William of Orange) with young James as heir apparent. The establishment of a Roman Catholic dynasty in the kingdoms now seemed likely. Some Tory members of parliament worked with members of the opposition Whigs in an attempt to resolve the crisis by secretly initiating dialogue with William of Orange to come to England, outside the jurisdiction of the English Parliament. Stadtholder William, the de facto head of state of the Dutch United Provinces, feared a Catholic Anglo–French alliance and had already been planning a military intervention in England.

After consolidating political and financial support, William crossed the North Sea and English Channel with a large invasion fleet in November 1688, landing at Torbay. After only two minor clashes between the two opposing armies in England, and anti-Catholic riots in several towns, James's regime collapsed, largely because of a lack of resolve shown by the king. This was followed, however, by the protracted Williamite War in Ireland and Dundee's rising in Scotland. In England's distant American colonies, the revolution led to the collapse of the Dominion of New England and the overthrow of the Province of Maryland's government. Following a defeat of his forces at the Battle of Reading on 9 December 1688, James and his wife Mary fled England; James, however, returned to London for a two-week period that culminated in his final departure for France on 23 December 1688. By threatening to withdraw his troops, William, in February 1689 (New Style Julian calendar), convinced a newly chosen Convention Parliament to make him and his wife joint monarchs.

The Revolution permanently ended any chance of Catholicism becoming re-established in England. For British Catholics its effects were disastrous both socially and politically: For over a century Catholics were denied the right to vote and sit in the Westminster Parliament; they were also denied commissions in the army, and the monarch was forbidden to be Catholic or to marry a Catholic, this latter prohibition remaining in force until 2015. The Revolution led to limited tolerance for Nonconformist Protestants, although it would be some time before they had full political rights. It has been argued, mainly by Whig historians, that James's overthrow began modern English parliamentary democracy: the Bill of Rights 1689 has become one of the most important documents in the political history of Britain and never since has the monarch held absolute power.

Internationally, the Revolution was related to the War of the Grand Alliance on mainland Europe. It has been seen as the last successful invasion of England. It ended all attempts by England in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century to subdue the Dutch Republic by military force. The resulting economic integration and military co-operation between the English and Dutch navies, however, shifted the dominance in world trade from the Dutch Republic to England and later to Great Britain.

The expression "Glorious Revolution" was first used by John Hampden in late 1689, and is an expression that is still used by the British Parliament. The Glorious Revolution is also occasionally termed the Bloodless Revolution, albeit inaccurately. The English Civil War (also known as the Great Rebellion) was still within living memory for most of the major English participants in the events of 1688, and for them, in comparison to that war (or even the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685) the deaths in the conflict of 1688 were few.

Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden

Gustav IV Adolf or Gustav IV Adolph (1 November 1778 – 7 February 1837) was King of Sweden from 1792 until his abdication in 1809. He was also the last Swedish ruler of Finland.

The occupation of Finland in 1808-09 by Russian forces was the immediate cause of Gustav's violent overthrow by officers of his own army. Following his abdication on 29 March 1809, an Instrument of Government was hastily written, which severely circumscribed the powers of the monarchy. The "Instrument" was adopted on 6 June 1809, a date which is celebrated to this day as the National Day of Sweden. It remained in force until replaced in 1974. The crown (now with strictly limited powers) passed to Gustav's uncle, Charles XIII, who had no children; this want of heirs set into motion the quest for a successor, who was found the following year in the person of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, the first monarch of the present ruling family.

Ha' K'in Xook

Ha' K'in Xook (Mayan pronunciation: [haʔ k’in ʃoːk]), also known as Ruler 6, was an ajaw of Piedras Negras, an ancient Maya settlement in Guatemala. He ruled during the Late Classic Period, from 767–780 AD. Ha' K'in Xook was a son of Itzam K'an Ahk II, and he ascended the throne following the death of his brother, Yo'nal Ahk III. Ha' K'in Xook's reign ended with either his death or his abdication in favor of his brother K'inich Yat Ahk II; archaeologists and Mayanists have not arrived at a clear consensus. Ha' K'in Xook left behind several monuments, including stelae at Piedras Negras and a stone fragment from El Porvenir. In addition, a stone seat known as Throne 1 and erected by K'inich Yat Ahk II records either the death or abdication of Ha' K'in Xook.

His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936

His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 (1 Edw. 8 & 1 Geo. 6 c. 3) was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that recognised and ratified the abdication of King Edward VIII and passed succession to his brother King George VI. The act also excluded any possible future descendants of Edward from the line of succession. Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry his lover, Wallis Simpson, after facing opposition from the governments of the United Kingdom and the Dominions.

Juan Carlos I of Spain

Juan Carlos I (Spanish: [xwaŋˈkaɾlos]; Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias, born 5 January 1938) is a former King of Spain, reigning from 1975 until his abdication in 2014.

Juan Carlos is the grandson of Alfonso XIII, the last king of Spain before the abolition of the monarchy in 1931 and the subsequent declaration of the Second Spanish Republic. Juan Carlos was born in Rome, Italy, during his family's exile. Generalísimo Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator who initiated the civil war by means of a coup d'état against the constitutional republic in 1936, took over the government of Spain after his victory in the Spanish Civil War in 1939, and in 1947 Spain's status as a monarchy was affirmed and a law was passed allowing Franco to choose his successor. Juan Carlos's father, Juan, was the fourth child of Alfonso, who had renounced his claims to the throne in January 1941. Juan was seen by Franco to be too liberal and in 1969 was bypassed in favour of Juan Carlos as Franco's successor as head of state.Juan Carlos spent his early years in Italy and came to Spain in 1947 to continue his studies. After completing his secondary education in 1955, he began his military training and entered the General Military Academy at Zaragoza. Later, he attended the Naval Military School, the General Academy of the Air, and finished his tertiary education at the University of Madrid. In 1962, Juan Carlos married Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark in Athens. The couple had two daughters and a son together: Elena, Cristina, and Felipe. Due to Franco's declining health, Juan Carlos first began periodically acting as Spain's head of state in the summer of 1974. Franco died in November the following year and Juan Carlos became king on 22 November 1975, two days after Franco's death, the first reigning monarch since 1931; although his exiled father did not formally renounce his claims to the throne in favor of his son until 1977.

Expected to continue Franco's legacy, Juan Carlos, however, soon after his accession introduced reforms to dismantle the Francoist regime and begin the Spanish transition to democracy. This led to the approval of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 in a referendum, which re-established a constitutional monarchy. In 1981, Juan Carlos played a major role in preventing a coup that attempted to revert Spain to Francoist government in the King's name. In 2008, he was considered the most popular leader in all Ibero-America. Hailed for his role in Spain's transition to democracy, the King and the monarchy's reputation began to suffer after controversies surrounding his family arose, exacerbated by an elephant-hunting trip he undertook during a time of financial crisis in Spain. In 2014, Juan Carlos, citing personal reasons, abdicated in favour of his son, who acceded to the throne as Felipe VI.

Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan

Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan (皇太子徳仁親王, Kōtaishi Naruhito Shinnō, born 23 February 1960) is the elder son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, which makes him the heir apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Naruhito is expected to succeed his father as Emperor upon the latter's abdication in 2019. According to Japan's traditional order of succession, if he ascends the throne on that date, he will become the 126th emperor of the world's oldest monarchy. He will also become Japan's first emperor who was born after World War II.

Papal renunciation

A papal renunciation (Latin: renuntiatio) occurs when the reigning pope of the Catholic Church voluntarily steps down from his position. As the reign of the pope has conventionally been from election until death, papal renunciation is an uncommon event. Before the 21st century, only five popes unambiguously resigned with historical certainty, all between the 10th and 15th centuries. Additionally, there are disputed claims of four popes having resigned, dating from the 3rd to the 11th centuries; a fifth disputed case may have involved an antipope.

Additionally, a few popes during the saeculum obscurum were "deposed", meaning driven from office by force. The history and canonical question here is complicated; generally, the official Vatican list of popes seems to recognize such "depositions" as valid renunciations if the pope acquiesced, but not if he did not. The later development of canon law has been in favor of papal supremacy, leaving no recourse to the removal of a pope involuntarily.The most recent pope to resign was Benedict XVI, who vacated the Holy See on 28 February 2013 at 19:00 UTC. He was the first pope to do so since Gregory XII in 1415.

Despite its common usage in discussion of papal renunciations, the term abdication is not used in the official documents of the church for renunciation by a pope.

Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI occurred on 28 February 2013 at 20:00 CET, after having been announced on the morning of 11 February 2013 directly by himself. Benedict XVI's decision to step down as leader of the Catholic Church made him the first pope to relinquish the office since Gregory XII in 1415 (who did so in order to end the Western Schism), and the first to do so on his own initiative since Celestine V in 1294.The move was unexpected, given that popes in the modern era have held the position from election until death. The Pope stated that the reason for his decision was his declining health due to old age. The conclave to select his successor began on 12 March 2013 and elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who took the name of Francis.

Richard II of England

Richard II (6 January 1367 – c. 14 February 1400), also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard, a son of Edward the Black Prince, was born in Bordeaux during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III. His father was Prince of Aquitaine. Richard was the younger brother of Edward of Angoulême, upon whose death Richard, at three years of age, became second in line to the throne after his father. Upon the death of Richard's father prior to the death of Edward III, Richard, by primogeniture, became the heir apparent to the throne. With Edward III's death the following year, Richard succeeded to the throne at the age of ten.

During Richard's first years as king, government was in the hands of a series of councils. Most of the aristocracy preferred this to a regency led by the king's uncle, John of Gaunt, yet Gaunt remained highly influential. England then faced various problems, including the ongoing war against France (which was not going well for the English), border conflicts with Scotland, and economic difficulties related to the Black Death. A major challenge of the reign was the Peasants' Revolt in 1381, and the young king played a central part in the successful suppression of this crisis. In the following years, however, the king's dependence on a small number of courtiers caused discontent among the influential, and in 1387 control of government was taken over by a group of aristocrats known as the Lords Appellant. By 1389 Richard had regained control, and for the next eight years governed in relative harmony with his former opponents.

In 1397, Richard took his revenge on the appellants, many of whom were executed or exiled. The next two years have been described by historians as Richard's "tyranny". In 1399, after John of Gaunt died, the king disinherited Gaunt's son, Henry of Bolingbroke, who had previously been exiled. Henry invaded England in June 1399 with a small force that quickly grew in numbers. Although he initially claimed that his goal was only to reclaim his patrimony, it soon became clear that Henry intended to claim the throne for himself. Meeting little resistance, Bolingbroke deposed Richard and had himself crowned as King Henry IV. Richard died in captivity in February 1400; he is thought to have been starved to death, although questions remain regarding his final fate.

Richard was said to have been tall, good-looking and intelligent. Less warlike than either his father or grandfather, he sought to bring an end to the Hundred Years' War that Edward III had started. He was a firm believer in the royal prerogative, which led him to restrain the power of the aristocracy, and to rely on a private retinue for military protection instead; in contrast to the fraternal, martial court of his grandfather, he cultivated a refined atmosphere at his court, in which the king was an elevated figure, with art and culture at its centre.

Richard's posthumous reputation has been shaped to a large extent by William Shakespeare, whose play Richard II portrayed Richard's misrule and his deposition by Bolingbroke as responsible for the 15th-century Wars of the Roses. Modern historians do not accept this interpretation, while not exonerating Richard from responsibility for his own deposition. While probably not insane, as historians of the 19th and 20th centuries believed, he may have had what psychologists today identify as a personality disorder, particularly manifesting itself towards the end of his reign. Most authorities agree that, even though his policies were not unrealistic or even entirely unprecedented, the way in which he carried them out was unacceptable to the political establishment, and this led to his downfall.

Treaty of Fontainebleau (1814)

The Treaty of Fontainebleau was an agreement established in Fontainebleau, France, on 11 April 1814 between Napoleon I and representatives from the Austrian Empire, Russia and Prussia. The treaty was signed at Paris on 11 April by the plenipotentiaries of both sides and ratified by Napoleon on 13 April. With this treaty, the allies ended Napoleon's rule as emperor of France and sent him into exile on Elba.

Wallis Simpson

Wallis Simpson (born Bessie Wallis Warfield; 19 June 1896 – 24 April 1986), later known as the Duchess of Windsor, was an American socialite whose intended marriage to the British king Edward VIII caused a constitutional crisis that led to Edward's abdication.

Wallis grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. Her father died shortly after her birth and she and her widowed mother were partly supported by their wealthier relatives. Her first marriage, to U.S. naval officer Win Spencer, was punctuated by periods of separation and eventually ended in divorce. In 1931, during her second marriage, to Ernest Simpson, she met Edward, then Prince of Wales. Five years later, after Edward's accession as King of the United Kingdom, Wallis divorced her second husband to marry Edward.

The King's desire to marry a woman who had two living ex-husbands threatened to cause a constitutional crisis in the United Kingdom and the Dominions, and ultimately led to his abdication in December 1936 to marry "the woman I love". After abdicating, the former king was created Duke of Windsor by his brother and successor, King George VI. Wallis married Edward six months later, after which she was formally known as the Duchess of Windsor, but was not allowed to share her husband's style of "Royal Highness".

Before, during, and after the Second World War, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were suspected by many in government and society of being Nazi sympathisers. In 1937, they visited Germany and met Adolf Hitler. In 1940, the Duke was appointed governor of the Bahamas, and the couple moved to the islands until he relinquished the office in 1945. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Duke and Duchess shuttled between Europe and the United States living a life of leisure as society celebrities. After the Duke's death in 1972, the Duchess lived in seclusion and was rarely seen in public. Her private life has been a source of much speculation, and she remains a controversial figure in British history.

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