Elective monarchy

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 is not uncommon for elective monarchies to transform into hereditary ones over time, or for hereditary ones to acquire at least occasional elective aspects.


Many, if not most, kingdoms were officially elective historically, though the candidates were typically only from the family of the deceased monarch. Eventually, however, most elected monarchies introduced hereditary succession, guaranteeing that the title and office stayed within the royal family and specifying, more or less precisely, the order of succession.

Today, almost all monarchies are hereditary monarchies in which the monarchs come from one royal family with the office of sovereign being passed from one family member to another upon the death or abdication of the incumbent.

Historical examples



The kings of Macedon and of Epirus were elected by the army, which was similar in composition to the ecclesia of democracies, the council of all free citizens. Military service often was linked with citizenship among the male members of the royal house.

Rome / Byzantium

In the ancient Kingdom of Rome, the kings were elected by the Assemblies. Once the Roman kings were overthrown, there remained an absolute prohibition for royal establishment in the Roman constitution, a prohibition which formally remained in place during imperial times, both Roman and Byzantine. In practice, however, Imperial Rome was a monarchy. During the Principate (27BCE to 284CE), which was the foundational stage of Roman emperorship, Roman monarchs would often take care to disguise their de facto position with the de jure apparatus of republicanism. This was particularly the case for Augustus, the first Emperor, who established the Principate. Whilst given many titles (including "Augustus", i.e. "majestic") he described himself as "princeps senatus", or merely "first among senators". The illusion of being elected from the Senate continued when Tiberius succeeded to the purple. Whilst over time the principle weakened as republican government passed into distant history to the effect that the Empire became, functionally, an absolute monarchy the office of Roman and Byzantine emperor remained vaguely elective (albeit with the election procedure never strictly defined, but generally understood to be a matter for the Senate). For instance, whilst the first five Emperors were all descended from Julius Caesar, in each case their position was proclaimed, not inherited as of right. Claudius, the fourth Emperor, in particular stands out, being "elected" to office once the Praetorian Guard had made it clear he was their candidate.

Accordingly, heredity never was, and could never be, formally established in law. And whilst the later, more overtly authoritarian Dominate period further stripped the republican veneer from the constitution, Emperors succeeded by a mixture of proclamation by the Legions or Senate as much as by blood (though sons did succeed fathers).

In order to bypass the prohibition on heredity and ensure dynastic continuity, many reigning Byzantine emperors had their heirs crowned co-emperor so that the throne could not be considered vacant at their own death and thus the need for succession by election would not arise.

Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Empire is perhaps the best-known example of an elective monarchy. However, from 1440 to 1740, a Habsburg was always elected emperor, the throne becoming unofficially hereditary.[1] During that period, the emperor was elected from within the House of Habsburg by a small council of nobles called prince-electors. The secular electoral seats were hereditary. However, spiritual electors (and other prince-(arch)bishops) were usually elected by the cathedral chapters as religious leaders, but simultaneously ruled as monarch (prince) of a territory of imperial immediacy (which usually comprised a part of their diocesan territory). Thus the prince-bishoprics were elective monarchies too. The same holds true for prince-abbacies, whose princess-abbesses or prince-abbots were elected by a college of clerics and imperially appointed as princely rulers in a pertaining territory.

Kingdom of Jerusalem

In the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, the kingship was partially elected and partially hereditary. During the height of the kingdom in the mid-12th century there was a royal family and a relatively clear line of succession. Nevertheless, the king was elected, or at least recognized, by the Haute Cour. Here the king was considered a primus inter pares (first among equals), and in his absence his duties were performed by his seneschal.


Originally, the Kings of Sweden were elected by all free men at the Mora Thing. Elective monarchy continued until 1544, when the Riksdag of the Estates designated the heirs of King Gustav Vasa as the heirs to the throne. The Danish monarchy was also officially elective, although the eldest son of the reigning monarch was usually elected. This continued until 1660, when a hereditary and absolute monarchy was instituted by Frederick III. Though the monarchy of Norway was originally hereditary, it too became elective in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Candidates had to be of royal blood, but the kingship was elected by a council of noblemen, rather than automatically passing to the eldest son. In 1905 Prince Carl was elected King of Norway, after the male population in an election decided Norway should still be a monarchy.

The Scandinavian kingdoms were united under the Danish crown by Margaret I of Denmark in 1389, but many of her successors had the united kingdoms split up as Sweden elected a different king than Denmark and Norway upon succession. The election was usually contested through a Danish invasion of Sweden until Christian II of Denmark after his reconquest of Sweden had all those voting against him executed in the Stockholm Bloodbath (1520), which ended all support for the Danish king on the Swedish throne.

In 1810, the Swedish Riksdag elected the French Marshall Jean Bernadotte to be the new Crown Prince, since it was apparent that the Swedish branch of the House of Holstein-Gottorp would die with the childless King Charles XIII. Bernadotte eventually ascended the throne as Charles XIV John of Sweden and founded the still current House of Bernadotte. In this case the elective aspect in the choice of Monarch was especially prominent, since Bernadotte was a French commoner with no previous connection to Sweden and not the most remote of dynastic claims to the Swedish throne – his being chosen derived solely from urgent political and military considerations of the crisis time of the Napoleonic Wars.


Potęga Rzeczypospolitej u zenitu. Złota wolność. Elekcja R.P. 1573
The Republic at the Zenith of Its Power. Golden Liberty. The Royal Election of 1573, by Jan Matejko

In Poland, after the death of the last Piast in 1370, Polish kings were initially elected by a small council; gradually, this privilege was granted to all members of the szlachta (Polish nobility). Kings of Poland and Grand Dukes of Lithuania during the times of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795) were elected by gatherings of crowds of nobles at a field in Wola, today a neighbourhood of Warsaw. Since in Poland all sons of a noble were nobles, and not only the eldest, every one of an estimated 500,000 nobles could potentially have participated in such elections in person – by far the widest franchise of any European country at the time. During the election period, the function of the king was performed by an interrex (usually in the person of the primate of Poland). This unique Polish election was termed the free election (wolna elekcja).


Since medieval times, the King of Bohemia was elected by the Estates of Lands of the Bohemian Crown. Since 1526, when the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I assumed the Bohemian Crown, it was always held by the Habsburgs, who expected this situation to go on indefinitely. In 1618 the Bohemians chose to exercise in practice their legal right to choose a King at their discretion, and bestowed the Bohemian Crown on Frederick V, Elector Palatine – "The Winter King". However, the Habsburgs regarded this as an act of rebellion, imposed their rule over Bohemia in the Battle of the White Mountain and in the aftermath abolished the Bohemian Elective Monarchy and made exclusive Habsburg rule the de jure as well as de facto situation. The attempt to make Frederick V King of Bohemia is regarded as a catalyst for the Thirty Years War.


The Republic of Venice was ruled from 697 to 1797 by a doge, who normally ruled for life, though a few were forced from office. His powers were never those of an absolute monarch, but he was the Republic's highest official and powerful within restrictions and levels of oversight that varied in different periods. The election process began with the Great Council of more than 2000 Venetian aristocrats and employed an elaborate system designed to prevent one family or alliance from dominating the process. It used smaller nominating groups that were reduced in number by the drawing of lots and required a supermajority for election.

Dutch Republic

In the Dutch Republic of the 17th and 18th Century there was the office of the Stadtholder, whose power fell short of those of a monarch, and which was elective. Each of the seven Dutch provinces could separately elect its own Stadtholder and it did not have to be the same person in all of them. In theory anyone could be elected Stadtholder, though in practice it was restricted to members of the House of Orange. There was no obligation to elect a Stadtholder at all, and the leaders of the Dutch Republican faction, such as Oldenbarnevelt and De Witt, repeatedly tried to abolish the office of Stadtholder or leave it vacant – which it was for several decades of Dutch history. Conversely, the House of Orange and its adherents tried to increase the powers of the Stadtholder to approximate those of a Monarch, to make it officially hereditary (which it became in the later part of the 18th Century) and finally to transform it into a full-fledged Monarchy – as it was in 1815.

Sovereign Military Order of Malta

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, formerly known as the Knights Hospitaller or the Knights of Malta, remains a sovereign subject of international law since it was exiled to Rome from Malta during the French occupation of Malta under the First French Republic.[2] The Order is ruled by the Prince and Grand Master, who is elected for life by the Council Complete of State. The Prince and Grand Master holds the rank of Prince, bestowed by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1607 and holds the precedence of a cardinal of the Church since 1630.[3][4] The Council that elects the prince includes members of the Sovereign Council and other high-ranking office-holders and representatives of the Order's worldwide entities. The Sovereign Council, including the Grand Commander, the Grand Chancellor, the Grand Hospitaller, and the Receiver of the Common Treasure, aid the prince in governing the order.[5]

In Ireland, from the beginning of recorded history[6] until the mid-16th/early 17th century,[7] succession was determined by an elective system based on patrilineal relationship known as tanistry. The English Norman invasion of Ireland effectively ended the all-island kingdom's rule.

Other examples

A system of elective monarchy existed in Anglo-Saxon England (see Witenagemot), Visigothic Hispania, and medieval Scandinavia and in the Principality of Transylvania. Medieval France was an elective monarchy at the time of the first Capetian kings; the kings however took the habit of, during their reign, having their son elected as successor. The election soon became a mere formality and vanished after the reign of Philip II of France. In a much later period of its history, France briefly had again a kind of elective monarchy when Napoleon III was first elected President of France and then transformed himself into an Emperor – which, him being the nephew and heir of the Emperor Napoleon I, was not entirely a surprise.

In late 17th and early 18th century England, the Parliament effectively asserted that Monarchy in England was elective – at least as between various contenders with some dynastic claim for the throne. During the Exclusion Crisis, King Charles II strongly opposed any such idea – but following the Glorious Revolution, Parliament did enact the Act of Succession, whose effect was to disinherit in the Stuarts and replace them by the Hanoverians whose dynastic claim was far more remote. In later times, with Constitutional Monarchy well established, Parliament made no further interference in the succession to the British throne.

At the start of the 20th century, the first monarchs of several newly independent nations were elected by parliaments: Norway is the prime example. Previously, following precedent set in newly independent Greece, new nations without a well-established hereditary royal family often chose their own monarchs from among the established royal families of Europe, rather than elevate a member of the local power establishment, in the hope that a stable hereditary monarchy would eventually emerge from the process. The first king of Belgium, as well as the now-deposed royal families of Greece, Bulgaria, Albania (unsuccessfully) and Romania, were originally appointed in this manner. On 9 October 1918 the Parliament of newly-independent Finland elected Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse, brother-in-law of the German Emperor Wilhelm II, as King of Finland – but soon afterwards, this move was foiled by the German defeat in WWI and the demise of Monarchy in Germany itself, and Finland opted to become a Republic instead.


In Africa, the Mali Empire functioned as both a constitutional and elective monarchy. The mansa, or emperor, had to be approved by the Great Assembly known as the Gbara, despite hereditary claims. The Kingdom of Kongo was a purer example of an elective monarchy, where blood claims had even less influence. Nobles elected a king's successor, and it was common for the successor to be of a different family as his predecessor. This form of elective monarchy existed in the kingdom from its inception in around 1400 until its complete disintegration in the early 20th century. In the pre-colonial period, a number of West African rulers, such as the kings and chieftains of the Ashanti Empire and those of the Yoruba people, were elected from amongst the various royal families of their polities by colleges of noblemen known as kingmakers. This practice has continued to the present day.

Asia and Oceania

The ancient Korean kingdom of Silla elected its first king by a conference of tribal and village elders in 57 BC; later, the monarchy of Silla became hereditary in nature.

Gopala, the first emperor of the Pala Empire was chosen by independent regional warchiefs in the 8th century.

In the Mongol Empire, the Great Khan was chosen by the Kurultai.

In the Islamic world the Caliphs, successors to Muhammad, were originally elected by consensus of the community. The first four Caliphs were elected in this fashion as Sunni Muslims believed Muhammad had originally intended before Muawiyah, the sixth caliph, turned the Caliphate into what is known as the Umayyad Dynasty, a hereditary monarchy. In Sunni Islam, the first four elected caliphs were remembered as the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs. They were elected by a process known as Shura.

Other monarchs, such as the former Shah of Iran, have been required to undergo a parliamentary vote of approval before being allowed to ascend to the throne.

In 1858, the central tribes of North Island elected Potatau te Wherowhero as their monarch. The Tainui tribal elders have continued this tradition and the New Zealand Maori Kingitanga movement alive to the present.

The Kingdom of Hawaii could be considered a de facto example. From 1864 until the monarchy was overthrown, it was constitutionally a hereditary monarchy utilizing male-preference primogeniture. However, the Constitutions of 1864 and 1887, and the draft constitution of 1893, all provided that, in the event of the extinction of the royal line, the Legislature would elect a "native aliʻi" as the new monarch and stirps of a new dynasty. In actuality, however, during the entire time from 1864 until the overthrow of the monarchy, the throne was never passed from parent to child, as every Hawaiian monarch who reigned during that period died without leaving issue. Following the 1872 death of King Kamehameha V, a non-binding referendum was held, which William Charles Lunalilo won; he was subsequently elected king by the legislature in 1873. King Kalākaua was elected by the legislature in 1874, after Lunalilo's death. However, when Kalākaua died in 1891, the crown demised to the collateral line of his sister, Queen Liliʻuokalani. Prior to 1864, the Hawaiian King-in-Council appointed the heir to the Hawaiian throne.

In the United Arab Emirates, the hereditary emirs of the emirates elects one of themselves as president of the federation.

The Americas


The Tlatoanimeh of the Aztec Empire were chosen by a council of elders, nobles, and priests. He would be selected from a pool of four candidates.

Costa Rica

The mánkeme (king) of the Kingdom of Nicoya was elected by a council of elders known as the monéxico.

United States

An attempt to create an elective monarchy in the United States failed. Alexander Hamilton argued in a long speech before the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that the President of the United States should be an elective monarch, ruling for "good behavior" (i.e., for life, unless impeached) and with extensive powers. Hamilton believed that elective monarchs had sufficient power domestically to resist foreign corruption, yet there was enough domestic control over their behavior to prevent tyranny at home.[8] His proposal was resoundingly voted down in favor of a four-year term with the possibility of reelection. In his later defense of the Constitution in The Federalist Papers, he often hints that a lifetime executive might be better, even as he praises the system with the four-year term.


The Empire of Haiti, established in 1804, was also elective.


A hereditary monarchy may occasionally use election to fill a vacant throne. For example, the royal family may become extinct; depending on how precisely the succession to the throne is defined in law, several candidates with equally, or almost equally, strong claims could emerge, with an election being held to choose from among them. This differs from a formally elective monarchy in that it is an extraordinary measure, and with the new monarch the succession again becomes hereditary.

Alternatively, the monarch may be deposed, as in a revolution. While sometimes a monarch may be forced to abdicate in favour of his or her heir, on other occasions the royal family as a whole has been rejected, the throne going to an elected candidate. Examples of extraordinary election include:


Before republics became widespread or default form of modern government, back when self-respecting states operated as monarchies by default, new polities or countries in internal turmoil sometimes selected and invited some person to become their monarch. The selected person might have had little or nothing to do with his prospective kingdom; he might have had associations with a current great power or with a current regional power, or might appear as a true outsider, (hopefully) unbiased in matters of internal politics. (The concept of "invitation" may discreetly gloss over intense lobbying or diplomatic manoeuvring in some cases.) By selecting a foreign prince or aristocrat, nations could expect to gain diplomatic links and a figurehead accustomed to the trappings of courts and ceremonial duties. Newly established states in the 19th and early 20th centuries established trends in the selection and appointment of newly minted monarchs.

Examples include:

  • 862: according to tradition, various tribes of northern Rus' invited Rurik, a chief of their former Varangian foes, to re-establish order: his descendants ruled in Kiev, Muscovy and Russia until 1612. The legend of an invitation echoes the habit of later invitations to Rurikids and others to rule in Pskov[9] and in Novgorod.[10][11]
  • 1573: The Polish szlachta broke with tradition by looking beyond Eastern Europe for a candidate and electing the French Prince Henry, Duke of Anjou as King of Poland.
  • 1810: Sweden elected the French Napoleonic Marshal Jean Bernadotte as Crown Prince: he became King Charles XIV John of Sweden in 1818.
  • 1831: Belgium selected a German Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha as King Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians.
  • 1832: European Great Power diplomats selected the German Prince Otto of Bavaria to become King Otto of Greece.
  • 1863: The Greek National Assembly elected the Danish Prince William of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg as King George I of the Hellenes.
  • 1863: The Conservative Party of Mexico offered the crown of the Second Mexican Empire to Maximilian, younger brother of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.
Dell'Acqua Ernennung Maximilians zum Kaiser Mexikos
Offering of the Mexican crown to Maximilian of Habsburg.
  • 1866: Romania elected the German Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen as its Ruling Prince (he later became King Carol I of Romania).
  • 1870: In the wake of political turmoil in Spain, the Spanish Cortes re-established the Spanish monarchy under a new royal house, electing the Italian Prince Amedeo of Savoy as King Amadeo I of Spain.
  • 1879: Bulgaria elected the Russian-sponsored German Prince Alexander of Battenberg as its reigning knyaz (prince).
  • 1887: The Bulgarian Grand National Assembly elected the Austro-Hungarian Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry as Prince (later Tsar) of Bulgaria.
  • 1905: Norway, newly independent of Sweden, elected Prince Carl of Denmark as its first modern independent monarch: Haakon VII of Norway
  • 1914: The European powers selected the German Prince William of Wied as the ruler of the Principality of Albania.
  • 1918: The German-occupied Kingdom of Lithuania voted to offer the throne to the German Prince Wilhelm of Urach, Count of Württemberg, 2nd Duke of Urach, who would have become King Mindaugas II.


The Belgian monarchy survived despite scandals; the Swedish and Norwegian monarchies have flourished. Most other countries who invited in new rulers have since become non-monarchical republics.

Current uses

Currently, the world's only true elective monarchies are:

  • Cambodia, where the king is chosen for a life term by the Royal Council of the Throne from candidates of royal blood.
  • The Holy See and the associated Vatican City State, where the Pope is elected in a conclave by the College of Cardinals, generally from among their number.
  • Malaysia, where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Supreme Head of State) is elected to a five-year term. Nine hereditary rulers from the Malay States form a Council of Rulers who will determine the next Agong via a secret ballot. The position has to date been de facto rotated amongst the State rulers, originally based on seniority.
    • Additionally, the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan is itself an elective monarchy, where the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan is selected by a council of ruling chiefs. The ruling chiefs themselves are elected by the chieftain. Male candidates are determined based on matrilineal clan. The system was partially the basis for the federal monarchy.
    • The Sultan of Perak is selected from amongst the most senior male princes descending from the 18th Sultan of Perak, Sultan Ahmadin. The Sultan, Raja Muda (Crown Prince), and Raja Di-Hilir (Deputy Crown Prince) are selected by the Dewan Negara of Perak. A son of the reigning Sultan cannot become Raja Muda if there is a more senior prince descended from the previous Sultan; this is possible should the senior prince relinquish his right to become Raja Muda.
  • Samoa was established as an elective monarchy upon its independence in 1962. The Constitution of Samoa stipulates successors to the two original heads of state, Malietoa Tanumafili II and Tupua Tamasese Mea'ole, who were one of the four paramount chiefs (Tama-a-Aiga), are to be elected for five-year terms by the Fono, the Samoan parliament. Articles 18 and 45 of the Constitution provide, respectively, that any Member of Parliament may be elected head of state, and that any Samoan citizen may be elected to Parliament, although 47 out of the 49 seats in the Fono are reserved for matai, or chiefs (the other two are reserved for non-Samoans).[12] Thus Samoa might possibly be considered a parliamentary republic; however, the head of state is still referred to as "His Highness",[13] nor does the Constitution expressly declare that the form of government has been changed. The incumbent as of 2018, Va'aletoa Sualauvi II, is also one of the four paramount chiefs.

Similar forms

  • Andorra could be considered a semi-elective principality. Andorra's two heads of state are Spain's Bishop of La Seu d'Urgell and, since 1589, the king of France. As the French monarchy has long since been eliminated, the position of co-prince of Andorra falls to the democratically elected President of France. However, the Andorran authorities or people have no say in the election of the President of France, leaving Andorra in the unique position of having a monarch who is democratically elected by the citizenry of another state.
  • Swaziland/Eswatini has a form of quasi-elective monarchy. In the country, no king can appoint his successor. Instead, the royal family decides which of his wives shall be " Great Wife" and "Indlovukazi" (She-Elephant / Queen Mother). The son of this "Great Wife" will automatically become the next king. The eldest son is never appointed successor as he has other ceremonial roles.
  • Nigeria has a system whereby Nigerian traditional rulers (or "royal fathers", e.g., the Obas, Ezes and Emirs) are usually elected by councils of kingmakers from almost endless pools of contending cousins who are eligible for the elections because they all claim descent from founding monarchs or other royals. Each title is therefore held for life by one of these dynastic cousins in turn, often through rotation.
  • The cacique of the Ngöbe people of Costa Rica and Panama is appointed for life by a council of 13 elders. The latest election was in 2013 after the death of the previous cacique at around 100 years old.[14] Current cacique is Costa Rican-born Pedro Palacios, son of the previous cacique Pedro Bejarano.[15]
  • Saudi Arabia's throne, while hereditary, is not determined by a succession law but rather by consensus of the House of Saud as to who will be Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia; consensus may change depending on the Crown Prince's actions. Since 2007, the process of establishing the consensus of the House has been institutionalized in the form of the Allegiance Council, comprising the most powerful senior princes, which has the power to disapprove the King's nominee for Crown Prince and substitute its own by simple majority vote.[16] In effect, this makes the Saudi monarchy elective within the House of Saud, as the king's eldest son has not become Crown Prince since the death of King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud in 1953.
  • United Arab Emirates has a president. This is a de facto hereditary position belonging to the Emir of Abu Dhabi. Thus, although elected by the Supreme Council, the presidency is essentially hereditary – the emir of Abu Dhabi holds the position. Likewise, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE is a position held by the emir of Dubai
  • The Maori King Movement in New Zealand chooses a Maori monarch, elected by the kaumatua of various New Zealand iwi (tribes). However, every Maori monarch to date has been succeeded by his/her son or daughter, making the position hereditary in effect.
  • Wallis and Futuna (territories of the French Republic) have traditional heads of the three regions who are elected.

See also


  1. ^ "The Emperor: Qualifications". The Holy Roman Empire. Heraldica.
  2. ^ http://www.theutenberg.se/pdf/the_holy_see_the_order_of_malta_and_international_law.pdf
  3. ^ Sire, H.J.A. (1994). The Knights of Malta. Yale University Press. p. 221. ISBN 0300068859.
  4. ^ Noonan Jr., James-Charles (1996). The Church Visible: The Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church. Viking. p. 135. ISBN 0-670-86745-4.
  5. ^ https://www.orderofmalta.int/government/sovereign-council/ The Sovereign Council of the Order of Malta
  6. ^ In Early Irish laws and institution (1934) Eoin MacNeill stated that, according to the annal evidence, tanistry originated only about a century after the Anglo-Norman invasion, p. 148.
  7. ^ Case of Tanistry (1608), Davis 28 180 E.R 516
  8. ^ Hamilton, Alexander (1962). The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Volume 9. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-08903-1.
  9. ^ Blockmans, Wim; Krom, Mikhail; Wubs-Mrozewicz, Justyna, eds. (2017). The Routledge Handbook of Maritime Trade around Europe 1300–1600: Commercial Networks and Urban Autonomy. Routledge History Handbooks. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781315278551. Retrieved 2017-07-18. The Pskov men invited princes to Pskov whose professional armoured cavalry was very important for a city that had constant wars with the Livonian Order. [...] The princely power grew during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries while the prince himself usually was a protégé of the grand prince of Moscow. [...] However, the right that was especially valued by Pskov men was that to expel princes whom they disliked.
  10. ^ Parker, Geoffrey (2004). "8: Princes, Bishops and Republics: Cities and City-States in Russia". Sovereign City: The City-state Through History. Globalities Series. London: Reaktion Books. p. 124. ISBN 9781861892195. Retrieved 2017-07-18. From 1075 the people of Novgorod 'invited' the prince to take the throne and it is clear that the princes were now there only so long as they satisfied the Novgorodians and obeyed their laws.
  11. ^ Plokhy, Serhii (2006). "4: The rise of Muscovy". The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 137. ISBN 9781139458924. Retrieved 2017-07-18. On the Novgorod and Pskov communities' practice of inviting princes from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, see Anna Khoroshkevich, 'Istoricheskie sud'by belorusskikh i ukrainskikh zemel' v XIV – nachale XVI v.,' in Vladimir Pashuto, Boris Floria, and Khoroshkevich, Drevnerusskoe nasledia i istoricheskie sud'by vostochnogo slavianstva (Moscow, 1982), pp. 140–141.
  12. ^ Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa Archived July 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Official website of the head of state of Samoa
  14. ^ "Elección de un cacique en tiempos modernos". Diario Extra.
  15. ^ "Brus malis se viste de fiesta tras elección de nuevo líder indígena". Actualidad CR.
  16. ^ "The Allegiance Institution Law". Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, DC. 20 October 2006. Retrieved 2 May 2011.

External links

1660 state of emergency in Denmark

A state of emergency was declared by the King of Denmark in 1660. Its purpose was to put pressure on the first estate, which were reluctant to a proposal from the second and third estates to replace the elective monarchy with hereditary monarchy.

1842 Wallachian princely election

Elections for the princely throne of Wallachia were held on December 20–21, 1842 (New Style: January 1–2, 1843), marking the start of Gheorghe Bibescu's rule. They were the first of two such elections ever held in Wallachia, and historic in that they restored and modernized the elective monarchy, after a 112-year hiatus. While earlier elections took place under the Vlach law, the 1842–43 race was held under a modernized suffrage: there were multiple candidates, an electoral college, approval voting, and exhaustive ballot. The selection of voters extended beyond the inner circle of the Wallachian boyars, with consultation of the provincial landowners and the guilds. Such practices reflected the modernizing trend instituted by the Regulamentul Organic regime in both Danubian Principalities, under the shared custody of the Russian and Ottoman empires. In Moldavia, however, the regime did not permit princely elections, making Bibescu's the only Regulamentul reign to have been consecrated by a vote.

The 1842 election also aired disputes between various camps: the National Party versus the Russophiles, and conservatives versus liberals. These protracted battles had marked the rule of Alexandru II Ghica, deposed by collusion between Bibescu and his aging conservative rival, Alecu Filipescu-Vulpea. The electoral campaign, touched by corruption and slander, also opposed Bibescu to his brother Barbu Dimitrie Știrbei, who became a leading contender. Bibescu won when Știrbei effectively transferred him his electoral votes, leaving the senior boyar Iordache Filipescu in third-place.

Bibescu's reign was marked by concessions to the National Party, but later the prince asserted his independence, and, like Ghica before him, governed with a hostile Ordinary Assembly. He also broke with precedent by ruling without consultation and tampering with the legislative elections of 1846, but maintained a friendly rapport with the liberal camp. Eventually abdicating and leaving the country during the Wallachian Revolution of 1848, his brother Știrbei replaced him on the throne following the resumption of Ottoman control. Both brothers remained active in political life after the Crimean War, when, by renouncing their ambitions, they contributed to the union of the Principalities. This was achieved by the princely election of January 1859, when Moldavian Alexandru Ioan Cuza was granted the Wallachian throne.

Conference of Rulers

The Conference of Rulers (also Council of Rulers or Durbar, Malay: Majlis Raja-Raja; Jawi: مجليس راج٢) in Malaysia is a council comprising the nine rulers of the Malay states, and the governors or Yang di-Pertua Negeri of the other four states. It was officially established by Article 38 of the Constitution of Malaysia, and is the only such institution in the world, according to the Malaysian National Library. Its main responsibility is the election of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) and his deputy, the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which occurs every five years or when the positions fall vacant (either through death, resignation, or removal from office). Although its position in the process of elective monarchy is unique, the Conference of Rulers also plays a role in amending the Constitution of Malaysia and some other policies, in particular, those Articles which have been "entrenched", namely those pertaining to the status of the rulers, the special privileges of the indigenous Bumiputra (see Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia), the status of the Malay language as the national language, and the clause governing the entrenchment of such Articles.

Coronation of the Danish monarch

The coronation of the Danish monarch was a religious ceremony in which the accession of the Danish monarch was marked by a coronation ceremony. It was held in various forms from 1170 to 1840, mostly in Lund Cathedral in Lund, St. Mary's Cathedral in Copenhagen and in the chapel of Frederiksborg Palace in Hillerød.

Enthronements of the Danish monarch may be historically divided into three distinct types of rituals: the medieval coronation, which existed during the period of elective monarchy; the anointing ritual, which replaced coronation with the introduction of absolute monarchy in 1660; and finally the simple proclamation, which has been used since the introduction of the constitutional monarchy in 1849.

Declaration of Arbroath

The Declaration of Arbroath (Scots: Declaration o Aiberbrothock; Latin: Declaratio Arbroathis; Scottish Gaelic: Tiomnadh Bhruis) is a declaration of Scottish independence, made in 1320. It is in the form of a letter in Latin submitted to Pope John XXII, dated 6 April 1320, intended to confirm Scotland's status as an independent, sovereign state and defending Scotland's right to use military action when unjustly attacked.

Generally believed to have been written in the Arbroath Abbey by Bernard of Kilwinning, then Chancellor of Scotland and Abbot of Arbroath, and sealed by fifty-one magnates and nobles, the letter is the sole survivor of three created at the time. The others were a letter from the King of Scots, Robert I, and a letter from four Scottish bishops which all made similar points.

First Empire of Haiti

The First Empire of Haiti (French: Empire d'Haïti; Haitian Creole: Anpi an Ayiti) was an elective monarchy in North America. Haiti was controlled by France before declaring independence on January 1, 1804. The Governor-General of Haiti, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, created the empire on September 22, 1804. Proclaiming himself Emperor Jacques I, he held his coronation ceremony on October 6. The constitution of May 20, 1805, set out the way the empire was to be governed, with the country split into six military divisions. The general of each division corresponded directly with the emperor or the general in chief appointed by the emperor. The constitution also set out the succession to the throne, with the crown being elective and the reigning emperor having the power to appoint his successor. The constitution also banned white people, with the exception of naturalised Germans and Poles, from owning property inside the empire.Jacques I was assassinated on October 17, 1806. Two members of his administration, Alexandre Pétion and Henri Christophe, then assumed power, which led to a split in the country with Pétion leading the southern Republic of Haiti and Christophe leading the northern State of Haiti. Some 43 years later, on August 26, 1849, President Faustin Soulouque re-established an Empire in Haiti that lasted until January 15, 1859.

Frederick III of Denmark

Frederick III (Danish: Frederik; 18 March 1609 – 9 February 1670) was king of Denmark and Norway from 1648 until his death in 1670. He also governed under the name Frederick II as diocesan administrator (colloquially referred to as prince-bishop) of the Prince-Bishopric of Verden (1623–29 and again 1634–44), and the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen (1635–45).He instituted absolute monarchy in Denmark-Norway in 1660, confirmed by law in 1665 as the first in Western historiography. He also ordered the creation of the Throne Chair of Denmark. He was born the second-eldest son of Christian IV and Anne Catherine of Brandenburg. Frederick was only considered an heir to the throne after the death of his older brother Prince Christian in 1647.

In order to be elected king after the death of his father, Frederick conceded significant influence to the nobility. As king, he fought two wars against Sweden. He was defeated in the Dano-Swedish War of 1657–1658, but attained great popularity when he weathered the 1659 Assault on Copenhagen and won the Dano-Swedish War of 1658–1660. Later that year, Frederick used his popularity to disband the elective monarchy in favour of absolute monarchy, which lasted until 1848 in Denmark. He married Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg, with whom he fathered Christian V of Denmark.


Hermeric (died 441) was the king of the Suevi in Galicia from perhaps as early as 406 and certainly no later than 419 until his retirement in 438. He was a pagan and an enemy of the Roman Empire throughout his life. He is given a reign of thirty-two years in most manuscripts of Isidore of Seville's Historia Suevorum, but one manuscript does list his reign as fourteen years.Hermeric led the Suevi across the frozen Rhine along with the Vandals and Alans in December 406. They crossed Gaul and the Pyrenees and settled in Hispania. While Theodore Mommsen believed the Suevi were foederati and Ernst Stein seconded the notion by believing they had made an agreement with the Roman usurper Magnus Maximus whereby they received the western half of Iberia, there is no primary evidence for any alliance between the Suevi and Rome. In 411 (according to Ludwig Schmidt) or 417 (according to Felix Dahn), Hermeric made a treaty with the Roman emperor Honorius, but in fact the only event of note in 411 was the division of Iberia sorte (by lot) between the barbarian peoples. The east of the province of Gallaecia with its capital of Braga (Bracara Augusta) fell to the Suevi, while the west of the province went to the populous Hasdingi.Between 416 and 418, the Visigoths under Wallia made war on Hermeric on behalf of Rome. In 419, after a personal dispute between Hermeric and the Vandal king Gunderic, the Vandals attacked the Suevi and trapped Hermeric in the Nervasian (Erbasian) Mountains before the Roman general Asterius intervened and the Vandals retreated. Thereafter, until the Vandals left Iberia for Africa in 429, Hermeric remained peaceful, but in 430 he began to raid Gallaecia.In 431 a Gallaecian named Hydatius went to Flavius Aëtius to plead for help against the Suevi, but Aëtius delayed until 432 the sending of the comes Censorius. According to Hydatius' Chronicle of contemporary events, the Gallaecian plebs in the better-fortified strongpoints defeated Hermeric and his men, inflicting heavy casualties and taking many prisoners, which forced the Sueves to release the Gallaecian families they had taken captive (430).In 435, "on episcopal intervention", possibly Hydatius', Hermeric made peace with the Gallaecians. In that same year, Hermeric negotiated through the Catholic bishop Symphosius directly with the Western Roman Emperor. In 437, Censorius made a second expedition accompanied by Fretimund.

After seven years of illness, Hermeric was forced to retire from the kingship in 438 and pass it on to his son Rechila. The story, recorded in Isidore, that Hermeric sent Rechila to Baetica to defeat Andevotus, Romanae militiae dux, is false, as there is no contemporary evidence that Hermeric retained any authority after his abdication. There appears to have been no principle of elective monarchy among the Suevi and the successes of their raids may have accounted for the contentment of their people. Hermeric's royal line lasted until 456.In 429, there appeared briefly a Suevic military leader named Heremigarius operating in Lusitania who may have been a joint monarch with Hermeric, but there is no primary source to prove it.

Imperial election

The election of a Holy Roman Emperor was generally a two-stage process whereby, from at least the 13th century, the King of the Romans was elected by a small body of the greatest princes of the Empire, the prince-electors. This was then followed shortly thereafter by his coronation as Emperor, an appointment that was normally for life. In 1356, the Emperor Charles IV promulgated the Golden Bull, which became the fundamental law by which all future kings and emperors were elected. After 1508, the Pope recognized election alone to be sufficient for the use of the Imperial title. The last papal coronation took place in 1530.

Although the Holy Roman Empire is perhaps the best-known example of an elective monarchy, from 1438 to 1740, a Habsburg was always elected emperor, the throne becoming de facto hereditary. During that period, the emperor was elected from within the House of Habsburg.

King of Rome

The King of Rome (Latin: Rex Romae) was the chief magistrate of the Roman Kingdom. According to legend, the first king of Rome was Romulus, who founded the city in 753 BC upon the Palatine Hill. Seven legendary kings are said to have ruled Rome until 509 BC, when the last king was overthrown. These kings ruled for an average of 35 years.

The kings after Romulus were not known to be dynasts and no reference is made to the hereditary principle until after the fifth king Tarquinius Priscus. Consequently, some have assumed that the Tarquins and their attempt to institute a hereditary monarchy over this conjectured earlier elective monarchy resulted in the formation of the republic.

Line of succession to the Malaysian thrones

Malaysia practises an elective monarchy, so there is no distinct line of succession to the Malaysian thrones. In the event where the current seat of the throne falls vacant (due to death, incapacitation or resignation), the Conference of Rulers meet to elect the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong (monarch) from among the rulers of the nine Malay states. The deputy king does not automatically succeed the throne. The election is regulated by Article 32 of the Constitution of Malaysia.By convention, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has been elected by the established order of seniority of the states.

List of Niuean monarchs

This is a list of monarchs who have reigned over the Pacific island of Niue. The island today is a self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand, and recognises the Queen of New Zealand as monarch. Before this, however, the island previously had an indigenous monarchy, established around the beginning of the 18th century.

Before that time, there appears to have been no national government or national leader in Niue. Chiefs and heads of family exercised authority over segments of the population. Around 1700, the concept and practice of kingship appears to have been introduced through contact with Samoa or Tonga. From then on, a succession of patu-iki (kings) ruled the island, the first of whom was Puni-mata. The monarch was non-hereditary; patu-iki were reportedly elected by the Niuean population, with the candidates being issued from influential families. As described by Percy Smith in 1903, Niue appears therefore to have been a democratic elective monarchy.

Monarchies of Malaysia

The monarchies of Malaysia refer to the constitutional monarchy system as practised in Malaysia. The political system of Malaysia is based on the Westminster parliamentary system in combination with features of a federation.

Nine of the states of Malaysia are constitutionally headed by traditional Malay rulers, collectively referred to as the Malay states. State constitutions limit eligibility for the thrones to male Malay Muslims of royal descent. Seven are hereditary monarchies based on agnatic primogeniture: Kedah, Kelantan, Johor, Perlis, Pahang, Selangor and Terengganu. In Perak, the throne rotates among three branches of the royal family loosely based on agnatic seniority. One state, Negeri Sembilan, is an elective monarchy; the ruler is elected from male members of the royal family by hereditary chiefs. All rulers, except those of Perlis and of Negeri Sembilan, use the title of Sultan. The ruler of Perlis is styled the Raja, whereas the ruler of Negeri Sembilan is known as the Yang di-Pertuan Besar.

Every five years or when a vacancy occurs, the rulers convene as the Conference of Rulers (Malay: Majlis Raja-Raja) to elect among themselves the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the federal constitutional monarch and head of state of Malaysia. As the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected among the rulers, Malaysia, as a whole, is also an elective monarchy.


The Kingdom of Hiran or Kingdom of Ngoenyang (Thai: อาณาจักรหิรัญเงินยาง) was an early mueang or kingdom of the Northern Thai people from the 7th through 13th centuries AD and was originally centered on Hiran, formerly Vieng Preuksa, in modern-day Thailand near today's Mae Sai District in Chiang Rai, and later on Ngoenyang or Chiang Saen. Ngoenyang was the successor to the mueang of Singhanavati and King Mangrai, the 17th king of Ngoenyang, went on to found Lanna.

In contrast to most contemporary Tai states, Ngoenyang was mentioned in local chronicles, which provide some information about its history.

In 545 AD, an earthquake destroyed the city of Naknakorn and thus the mueang of Singhanavati. Survivors gathered together and an elective monarchy was established there. The mueang was named Vieng Prueksa, as prueksa means "to discuss".

After 93 years of elective monarchy, King Kalavarnadit of the Lavo Kingdom forced the Vieng Prueksa to accept King Lavachakka as their king in 638 AD. Lavachakkaraj renamed the mueang Hiran.

Lavachakka is hypothesized to have been a tribal chief in the area who gained the support of the Lavo Kingdom. The Lavachakkaraj or "Lao dynasty" would go on to rule the area for 700 years.

Lao kiang, the ninth king of Hiran, founded the city of Ngoenyang (modern Chiang Saen) around 850 AD, moved the capital there, and thus became the first King of Ngoenyang. The territorial claims of Ngoenyang extended from Chiang Saen in the west through parts of modern Laos north of Luang Prabang to Thaeng (modern Điện Biên Phủ, Vietnam). Ngoenyang fell under the dominion of the Lu mueang Chiang Hung in the north around 1250 AD and remained within that orbit until the Mongol invasions again shifted power in the area.

The religion of Ngoenyang kingdom was heavily influenced by the Theravada Buddhism of the Hariphunchai kingdom to the south. Around 1250, Lao meng the 16th king of Ngoenyang founded Chiangrai and his son, Mangrai, moved the capital to Chiang Rai when he was crowned as the king of Ngoenyang in 1262. In 1281, Mangrai invaded Hariphunchai and captured the capital (modern Lamphun).

O le Ao o le Malo

O le Ao o le Malo (Samoan: "Chieftain of the Government"; Ao is a title generally reserved for chiefs (matai), while malo means "government") is the Samoan head of state.The position is described in Part III of the 1960 Samoan constitution. At the time the constitution was adopted, it was anticipated that future heads of state would be chosen from among the four Tama a 'Aiga "royal" paramount chiefs. However, this is not required by the constitution, so, for this reason, Samoa can be considered a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy. The government Press Secretariat describes O le Ao o le Malo as a "ceremonial president".

However, as all of the heads of state elected by the Fono, the country's parliament (which is itself almost entirely composed of customary chiefs), since independence have been one of the four chiefs, so it is ambiguous as to whether the country constitutes a parliamentary republic or a democratic elective monarchy.

The Samoan head of state, has since the country's independence enjoyed the title of Highness, as do the heads of the four paramount chiefly dynasties.

The current O le Ao o le Malo is Va'aletoa Sualauvi II, who was elected to a five-year term which started on 21 July 2017.

Polish–Lithuanian union

The term Polish–Lithuanian Union refers to a series of acts and alliances between the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that lasted for prolonged periods of time and led to the creation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth—the "Republic of the Two Nations"—in 1569 and eventually to the creation of a short-lived unitary state in 1791.Important events in the process of union included:

1385 – Union of Krewo – a personal union that brought the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Jogaila, to the Polish throne

1401 – Union of Vilnius and Radom – strengthened the Polish–Lithuanian union

1413 – Union of Horodło – heraldic union which granted many szlachta rights to Lithuanian nobility

1432 (1432–34) – Union of Grodno, a declarative attempt to renew closer union

1499 – Union of Kraków and Vilnius, in which the personal union became a dynastic union, recognising the sovereignty of Lithuania and describing interaction between the two states

1501 – Union of Mielnik – a renewal of the personal union

July 1, 1569 – Union of Lublin – a real union that resulted in creation of the semi-federal, semi-confederal Republic of the Two Nations (Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth)

May 3, 1791 – Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791: abolished the Elective monarchy and turned it into a hereditary monarchy, and established a common state, the Rzeczpospolita Polska (the Polish Commonwealth) in their place. The Reciprocal Guarantee of Two Nations modified these changes, stressing the continuity of bi-national status of the state. The changes were reversed completely in 1792 under pressure from forces of the Russian Empire.

Politics of Vatican City

The politics of Vatican City take place in a framework of a theocratic absolute elective monarchy, in which the Pope, religiously speaking, the leader of the Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome, exercises ex officio supreme legislative, executive, and judicial power over the Vatican City (an entity distinct from the Holy See), a rare case of non-hereditary monarchy.

The pope is elected in the Conclave, composed of all the cardinal electors (now limited to all the cardinals below the age of 80), after the death or resignation of the previous Pope. The Conclave is held in the Sistine Chapel, where all the electors are locked in (Latin cum clave) until the election for which a two-thirds majority is required. The faithful can follow the results of the polls (usually two in the morning and two in the evening, until election) by a chimney-top, visible from St. Peter's Square: in a stove attached to the chimney are burnt the voting papers, and additives make the resulting smoke black (fumata nera) in case of no election, white (fumata bianca) when the new pope is finally elected. The Dean of the Sacred College (Cardinale Decano) will then ask the freshly elected pope to choose his pastoral name, and as soon as the pope is dressed with the white cassock, the Senior Cardinal-Deacon (Cardinale Protodiacono) appears on the major balcony of St. Peter's façade to introduce the new pope with the famous Latin sentence

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus papam.(I announce to you a great joy: We have a Pope). The term "Holy See" refers to the composite of the authority, jurisdiction, and sovereignty vested in the Pope and his advisers to direct the worldwide Catholic Church. It is therefore quite distinct from the Vatican City state, which was created in 1929, through the Lateran treaties between the Holy See and Italy. As the "central government" of the Catholic Church, the Holy See has a legal personality that allows it to enter into treaties as the juridical equal of a state and to send and receive diplomatic representatives. It has formal diplomatic relations with 179 nations. The State of Vatican City, for its part, is recognized under international law as a sovereign territory. Unlike the Holy See, it does not receive or send diplomatic representatives, and the Holy See acts on its behalf in international affairs.

Royal elections in Poland

Royal elections in Poland (Polish: wolna elekcja, lit. free election) was the election of individual kings, rather than of dynasties, to the Polish throne. Based on traditions dating to the very beginning of the Polish statehood, strengthened during the Piast and Jagiellon dynasties, they reached their final form in the period of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth between 1572 and 1791. The "free election" was abolished by the Constitution of 3 May 1791, which established a constitutional monarchy.

Sovereignty Act

The Sovereignty Act or the Absolute and Hereditary Monarchy Act (Danish: Suverænitetsakten or Enevoldsarveregeringsakten; Norwegian: Enevoldsarveregjeringsakten or sometimes even Suverenitetsakten) refers to two similar constitutional acts that introduced absolute and hereditary monarchy in the Kingdom of Denmark and absolute monarchy in the Kingdom of Norway, which was already a hereditary monarchy.

The Danish version was signed on 10 January 1661 by the representatives of the estates of the realm, i.e. nobility, clergy, and burghers. In Norway, which included the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland, the act was signed on 7 August 1661 by nobility, clergy, burghers, and farmers.

The acts gave the King absolute sovereignty (hence the name) and were signed following a coup d'etat by Frederick III of Denmark and Norway in October 1660, which abolished the Danish Council of the Realm, the electoral capitulation. and the elective monarchy, ending the political influence of the nobility and clergy. This was made possible partly because the Council of the Realm, and thus the nobility, had lost control over the Army during the Second Northern War in the years before, and the King could now use the army with its German officers and enlisted troops to intimidate the Danish nobility into accepting the constitutional changes.The Sovereignty Act was replaced by the King's Law or Lex Regia (Danish and Norwegian: Kongeloven) in both kingdoms in 1665, which formed the constitution of Denmark and Norway until 1848 and 1814 , respectively. It was unprecedented in giving the King unlimited power. Essentially, it stated that the King was to 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, [...] except God alone'.

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