A monarchy is a form of government in which a single person holds supreme authority in ruling a country, also performing ceremonial duties and embodying the country's national identity. Although some monarchs are elected, in most cases, the monarch's position is inherited and lasts until death or abdication. In these cases, the royal family or members of the dynasty usually serve in official capacities as well. The governing power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic (crowned republic), to partial and restricted (constitutional monarchy), to completely autocratic (absolute monarchy).
Monarchy was the most common form of government until the 20th century. Forty-five sovereign nations in the world have monarchs acting as heads of state, sixteen of which are Commonwealth realms that recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. Most modern monarchs are constitutional monarchs, who retain a unique legal and ceremonial role, but exercise limited or no political power under the nation's constitution. In some nations, however, such as Brunei, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Eswatini, the hereditary monarch has more political influence than any other single source of authority in the nation, either by tradition or by a constitutional mandate.
The word "monarch" (Latin: monarcha) comes from the Greek language word μονάρχης, monárkhēs (from μόνος monos, "one, singular", and ἄρχω árkhō, "to rule" (compare ἄρχων arkhon, "leader, ruler, chief")) which referred to a single, at least nominally absolute ruler. In current usage the word monarchy usually refers to a traditional system of hereditary rule, as elective monarchies are quite rare.
The form of societal hierarchy known as chiefdom or tribal kingship is prehistoric. The Greek term monarchia is classical, used by Herodotus (3.82). The monarch in classical antiquity is often identified as "king" or "ruler" (translating archon, basileus, rex, tyrannos etc.) or as "queen" (Greek: basilinna). From earliest historical times, with the Egyptian and Mesopotamian monarchs, as well as in reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion, the king held sacral functions directly connected to sacrifice, or was considered by their people to have divine ancestry.
The role of the Roman emperor as the protector of Christianity was conflated with the sacral aspects held by the Germanic kings to create the notion of the "divine right of kings" in the Christian Middle Ages. The Chinese, Japanese and Nepalese monarchs continued to be considered living Gods into the modern period.
Since antiquity, monarchy has contrasted with forms of democracy, where executive power is wielded by assemblies of free citizens. In antiquity, some monarchies were abolished in favour of such assemblies in Rome (Roman Republic, 509 BC), and Athens (Athenian democracy, 500 BC).
In Germanic antiquity, kingship was primarily a sacral function, and the king was directly hereditary for some tribes, while for others he was elected from among eligible members of royal families by the thing.
Such ancient "parliamentarism" declined during the European Middle Ages, but it survived in forms of regional assemblies, such as the Icelandic Commonwealth, the Swiss Landsgemeinde and later Tagsatzung, and the High Medieval communal movement linked to the rise of medieval town privileges.
The modern resurgence of parliamentarism and anti-monarchism began with the temporary overthrow of the English monarchy by the Parliament of England in 1649, followed by the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789. One of many opponents of that trend was Elizabeth Dawbarn, whose anonymous Dialogue between Clara Neville and Louisa Mills, on Loyalty (1794) features "silly Louisa, who admires liberty, Tom Paine and the USA, [who is] lectured by Clara on God's approval of monarchy" and on the influence women can exert on men. Much of 19th-century politics featured a division between anti-monarchist Radicalism and monarchist Conservativism.
Many countries abolished the monarchy in the 20th century and became republics, especially in the wake of either World War I, World War II, the Palestine War, or the Cold War. Advocacy of republics is called republicanism, while advocacy of monarchies is called monarchism. In the modern era, monarchies are more prevalent in small states than in large ones.
Monarchies are associated with political or sociocultural hereditary reign, in which monarchs reign for life (although some monarchs do not hold lifetime positions: for example, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia serves a five-year term) and the responsibilities and power of the position pass to their child or another member of their family when they die. Most monarchs, both historically and in the modern day, have been born and brought up within a royal family, the centre of the royal household and court. Growing up in a royal family (called a dynasty when it continues for several generations), future monarchs are often trained for their expected future responsibilities as monarch.
Different systems of succession have been used, such as proximity of blood, primogeniture, and agnatic seniority (Salic law). While most monarchs have been male, many female monarchs also have reigned in history; the term queen regnant refers to a ruling monarch, while a queen consort refers to the wife of a reigning king. Rule may be hereditary in practice without being considered a monarchy: there have been some family dictatorships, and also some political families in many democracies.
The principal advantage of hereditary monarchy is the immediate continuity of leadership (as seen in the classic phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King!").
Some monarchies are non-hereditary. In an elective monarchy, monarchs are elected, or appointed by some body (an electoral college) for life or a defined period, but once appointed they serve as any other monarch. Four elective monarchies exist today: Cambodia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates are 20th-century creations, while one (the papacy) is ancient.
A self-proclaimed monarchy is established when a person claims the monarchy without any historical ties to a previous dynasty. There are examples of republican leaders who have proclaimed themselves monarchs: Napoleon I of France declared himself Emperor of the French and ruled the First French Empire after having held the title of First Consul of the French Republic for five years after he seized power in the coup of 18 Brumaire. President Jean-Bédel Bokassa of the Central African Republic declared himself Emperor of the Central African Empire. Yuan Shikai, the first formal President of the Republic of China, crowned himself Emperor of the short-lived "Empire of China" a few years after the Republic of China was founded.
Most states only have a single person acting as monarch at any given time, although two monarchs have ruled simultaneously in some countries, a situation known as diarchy. Historically this was the case in the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta and also in 17th-century Russia, and there are examples of joint sovereignty of spouses or relatives (such as William III and Mary II in the Kingdoms of England and Scotland). Other examples of joint sovereignty are Tsars Peter I and Ivan V of Russia, and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Joanna of Castile of the Crown of Castile.
Andorra currently is the world's only constitutional diarchy or co-principality. Located in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, it has two co-princes: the Bishop of Urgell in Spain (a prince-bishop) and the President of France (derived ex officio from the French kings, who themselves inherited the title from the counts of Foix). It is the only situation in which an independent country's (co-)monarch is democratically elected by the citizens of another country.
In a personal union, separate independent states share the same person as monarch, but each realm retains its separate laws and government. The sixteen separate Commonwealth realms are sometimes described as being in a personal union with Queen Elizabeth II as monarch; however, they can also be described as being in a shared monarchy.
A pretender is a claimant to an abolished throne or to a throne already occupied by somebody else.
Abdication is the act of formally giving up one's monarchical power and status.
Monarchy, especially absolute monarchy, is sometimes linked to religious aspects; many monarchs once claimed the right to rule by the will of a deity (Divine Right of Kings, Mandate of Heaven), or a special connection to a deity (sacred king), or even purported to be divine kings, or incarnations of deities themselves (imperial cult). Many European monarchs have been styled Fidei defensor (Defender of the Faith); some hold official positions relating to the state religion or established church.
In the Western political tradition, a morally-based, balanced monarchy was stressed as the ideal form of government, and little attention was paid to modern-day ideals of egalitarian democracy: e.g. Saint Thomas Aquinas unapologetically declared: "Tyranny is wont to occur not less but more frequently on the basis of polyarchy [rule by many, i.e. oligarchy or democracy] than on the basis of monarchy." (On Kingship). However, Thomas Aquinas also stated that the ideal monarchical system would also have at lower levels of government both an aristocracy and elements of democracy in order to create a balance of power. The monarch would also be subject to both natural and divine law, and to the Church in matters of religion.
In Dante Alighieri's De Monarchia, a spiritualised, imperial Catholic monarchy is strongly promoted according to a Ghibelline world-view in which the "royal religion of Melchizedek" is emphasised against the priestly claims of the rival papal ideology.
Monarchs can have various titles. Common European titles of monarchs are emperor or empress (from Latin: imperator or imperatrix), king or queen, grand duke or grand duchess, prince or princess, duke or duchess (in that hierarchical order of nobility). Some early modern European titles (especially in German states) included elector (German: Kurfürst, Prince-Elector, literally "electing prince"), margrave (German: Markgraf, equivalent to the French title marquis, literally "count of the borderland"), and burgrave (German: Burggraf, literally "count of the castle"). Lesser titles include count, princely count, and imam (Use in Oman). Slavic titles include knyaz and tsar (ц︢рь) or tsaritsa (царица), a word derived from the Roman imperial title Caesar.
In the Muslim world, titles of monarchs include caliph (successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire Muslim community), padishah (emperor), sultan or sultana, shâhanshâh (emperor), shah, malik (king) or malikah (queen), emir (commander, prince) or emira (princess), sheikh or sheikha. East Asian titles of monarchs include huángdì (emperor or empress regnant), tiānzǐ (son of heaven), tennō (emperor) or josei tennō (empress regnant), wang (king) or yeowang (queen regnant), hwangje (emperor) or yeohwang (empress regnant). South Asian and South East Asian titles included mahārāja (emperor) or maharani (empress), raja (king) and rana (king) or rani (queen) and ratu (South East Asian queen). Historically, Mongolic and Turkic monarchs have used the title khan and khagan (emperor) or khatun and khanum and Ancient Egypt monarchs have used the title pharaoh for men and women.
Many monarchs are addressed with particular styles or manners of address, like "Majesty", "Royal Highness", "By the Grace of God", Amīr al-Mu'minīn ("Leader of the Faithful"), Hünkar-i Khanedan-i Âl-i Osman, "Sovereign of the Sublime House of Osman"), Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda ("Majesty"), Jeonha ("Majesty"), Tennō Heika (literally "His Majesty the heavenly sovereign"), Bìxià ("Bottom of the Steps").
Sometimes titles are used to express claims to territories that are not held in fact (for example, English claims to the French throne), or titles not recognised (antipopes). Also, after a monarchy is deposed, often former monarchs and their descendants are given titles (the King of Portugal was given the hereditary title Duke of Braganza).
In some cases monarchs are dependent on other powers (see vassals, suzerainty, puppet state, hegemony). In the British colonial era indirect rule under a paramount power existed, such as the princely states under the British Raj.
In Botswana, South Africa, Ghana and Uganda, the ancient kingdoms and chiefdoms that were met by the colonialists when they first arrived on the continent are now constitutionally protected as regional or sectional entities. Furthermore, in Nigeria, though the dozens of sub-regional polities that exist there are not provided for in the current constitution, they are nevertheless legally recognised aspects of the structure of governance that operates in the nation. In addition to these five countries, peculiar monarchies of varied sizes and complexities exist in various other parts of Africa.
In a hereditary monarchy, the position of monarch is inherited according to a statutory or customary order of succession, usually within one royal family tracing its origin through a historical dynasty or bloodline. This usually means that the heir to the throne is known well in advance of becoming monarch to ensure a smooth succession.
Primogeniture, in which the eldest child of the monarch is first in line to become monarch, is the most common system in hereditary monarchy. The order of succession is usually affected by rules on gender. Historically "agnatic primogeniture" or "patrilineal primogeniture" was favoured, that is inheritance according to seniority of birth among the sons of a monarch or head of family, with sons and their male issue inheriting before brothers and their issue, and male-line males inheriting before females of the male line. This is the same as semi-Salic primogeniture. Complete exclusion of females from dynastic succession is commonly referred to as application of the Salic law (see Terra salica).
Before primogeniture was enshrined in European law and tradition, kings would often secure the succession by having their successor (usually their eldest son) crowned during their own lifetime, so for a time there would be two kings in coregency – a senior king and a junior king. Examples were Henry the Young King of England and the early Direct Capetians in France.
Sometimes, however, primogeniture can operate through the female line. In some systems a female may rule as monarch only when the male line dating back to a common ancestor is exhausted.
In 1980, Sweden became the first European monarchy to declare equal (full cognatic) primogeniture, meaning that the eldest child of the monarch, whether female or male, ascends to the throne. Other kingdoms (such as the Netherlands in 1983, Norway in 1990, Belgium in 1991, Denmark and Luxembourg) have since followed suit. The United Kingdom adopted absolute (equal) primogeniture (subject to the claims of existing heirs) on April 25, 2013, following agreement by the prime ministers of the sixteen Commonwealth Realms at the 22nd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Religion can be a factor in the eligibility of a monarch; for example the British monarch, as head of the Church of England, is required to be in communion with the Church, although all other former rules forbidding marriage to non-Protestants were abolished when equal primogeniture was adopted in 2013.
In the absence of children, the next most senior member of the collateral line (for example, a younger sibling of the previous monarch) becomes monarch. In complex cases, this can mean that there are closer blood relatives to the deceased monarch than the next in line according to primogeniture. This has often led, especially in Europe in the Middle Ages, to conflict between the principle of primogeniture and the principle of proximity of blood.
Other hereditary systems of succession included tanistry, which is semi-elective and gives weight to merit and Agnatic seniority. In some monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia, succession to the throne first passes to the monarch's next eldest brother, and only after that to the monarch's children (agnatic seniority). Although this was true in the past, on June 21st, 2017 King Salman of Saudi Arabi revolted against this style of monarchy and elected his son to inherit the throne.
In an elective monarchy, monarchs are elected, or appointed by some body (an electoral college) for life or a defined period, but then reign like any other monarch. There is no popular vote involved in elective monarchies, as the elective body usually consists of a small number of eligible people. Historical examples of elective monarchy are the Holy Roman Emperors (chosen by prince-electors, but often coming from the same dynasty), and the free election of kings of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. For example, Pepin the Short (father of Charlemagne) was elected King of the Franks by an assembly of Frankish leading men; Stanisław August Poniatowski of Poland was an elected king, as was Frederick I of Denmark. Germanic peoples had elective monarchies.
Five forms of elective monarchies exist today. The pope of the Roman Catholic Church (who rules as Sovereign of the Vatican City State) is elected for life by the College of Cardinals. In the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Prince and Grand Master is elected for life tenure by the Council Complete of State from within its members. In Malaysia, the federal king, called the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or Paramount Ruler is elected for a five-year term from among and by the hereditary rulers (mostly sultans) of nine of the federation's constitutive states, all on the Malay peninsula. The United Arab Emirates also has a procedure for electing its monarch. Furthermore, Andorra has a unique constitutional arrangement as one of its heads of state is the President of the French Republic in the form of a Co-Prince. This is the only instance in the world where the monarch of a state is elected by the citizens of a different country.
Appointment by the current monarch is another system, used in Jordan. It also was used in Imperial Russia; however, it was soon changed to semi-Salic, because the instability of the appointment system resulted in an age of palace revolutions. In this system, the monarch chooses the successor, who is always his relative.
Currently there are 44 nations in the world with a monarch as head of state. They fall roughly into the following categories:
Queen Elizabeth II is the monarch of sixteen Commonwealth realms (Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). They have evolved out of the British Empire into fully independent states within the Commonwealth of Nations that retain the Queen as head of state, unlike other Commonwealth countries, which are either dependencies or republics, or have a different royal house. All sixteen realms are constitutional monarchies and full democracies where the Queen has limited powers or a largely ceremonial role. The Queen is head of the established Church of England in the United Kingdom, while the other 15 realms do not have an established church.
The Principality of Andorra, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Kingdom of Sweden are fully democratic states in which the monarch has a limited or largely ceremonial role. There is generally a Christian religion established as the official church in each of these countries. This is the Lutheran form of Protestantism in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, while Andorra is a Roman Catholic country. Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands have no official State religion. Luxembourg, which is very predominantly Roman Catholic, has five so-called officially recognised cults of national importance (Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Greek Orthodoxy, Judaism and Islam), a status which gives to those religions some privileges like the payment of a state salary to their priests.
Andorra is unique among all existing monarchies, as it is a diarchy, with the Co-Princeship being shared by the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell. This situation, based on historic precedence, has created a peculiar situation among monarchies, as:
The Principality of Liechtenstein and the Principality of Monaco are constitutional monarchies in which the Prince retains some powers of an absolute monarch. For example, the 2003 Constitution referendum gave the Prince of Liechtenstein the power to veto any law that the Landtag (parliament) proposes and the Landtag can veto any law that the Prince tries to pass. The Prince can appoint or dismiss any elective member or government employee. However, he is not an absolute monarch, as the people can call for a referendum to end the monarch's reign. When Crown Prince Alois threatened to veto a referendum to legalize abortion in 2011 (which did not actually happen), it came as a surprise because the Prince had not vetoed any law for over 30 years. The Prince of Monaco has simpler powers; he cannot appoint or dismiss any elective member or government employee to/from his or her post, but he can elect the minister of state, government council and judges. Both Albert II, Prince of Monaco and Hans-Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein are theoretically very powerful within their small states, but in practice even they have very limited power compared to the Islamic monarchs (see below). They also own huge tracts of land and are shareholders in many companies.
The Islamic monarchs of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Nation of Brunei, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Kuwait, Malaysia, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates generally retain far more powers than their European or Commonwealth counterparts. Brunei, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia remain absolute monarchies; Bahrain, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates are classified as mixed, meaning there are representative bodies of some kind, but the monarch retains most of his powers; Jordan, Malaysia and Morocco are constitutional monarchies, but their monarchs still retain more substantial powers than European equivalents.
The Kingdom of Bhutan, the Kingdom of Cambodia, Japan and the Kingdom of Thailand are constitutional monarchies where the monarch has a limited or merely ceremonial role. Bhutan, Japan and Thailand were never colonised by European powers, but Japan and Thailand changed from traditional absolute monarchies into constitutional ones during the 20th century, and Bhutan made the change in 2008. Cambodia had its own monarchy after independence from the French Colonial Empire, but it was deposed after the Khmer Rouge came into power, with the subsequent invasion by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The monarchy was subsequently restored in the peace agreement of 1993.
Five monarchies do not fit into any of the above groups by virtue of geography or class of monarchy: the Kingdom of Tonga in Polynesia; the Kingdom of Eswatini and the Kingdom of Lesotho in Africa; the Vatican City State and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Europe. Of these, Lesotho and Tonga are constitutional monarchies, while Eswatini and the Vatican City are absolute monarchies. Eswatini is unique among these monarchies, often being considered a diarchy: the King, or Ngwenyama, rules alongside his mother, the Ndlovukati, as dual heads of state; this was originally intended to provide a check on political power. The Ngwenyama, however, is considered the administrative head of state, while the Ndlovukati is considered the spiritual and national head of state, a position which more or less has become symbolic in recent years. The Pope is the absolute monarch of the Vatican City State (a separate entity from the Holy See) by virtue of his position as head of the Roman Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome; he is an elected rather than a hereditary ruler and does not have to be a citizen of the territory prior to his election by the cardinals. The Order of Malta describes itself as a "sovereign subject" based on its unique history and unusual present circumstances, but its exact status in international law is subject of debate.
The ruling Kim family in North Korea (Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un) has been described as a de facto absolute monarchy or a "hereditary dictatorship". In 2013, Clause 2 of Article 10 of the new edited Ten Fundamental Principles of the Korean Workers' Party states that the party and revolution must be carried "eternally" by the "Baekdu (Kim's) bloodline".
Absolute monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme authority and where that authority is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in constitutional monarchies, the head of state's authority derives from and is legally bounded or restricted by a constitution or legislature.Some monarchies have a weak or symbolic legislature and other governmental bodies the monarch can alter or dissolve at will. Countries where monarchs still maintain absolute power are: Brunei, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Eswatini, Vatican City and the individual emirates composing the United Arab Emirates, which itself is a federation of such monarchies – a federal monarchy.Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed by giving a new constitution to the Austrian Empire, which devolved powers on Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) and placed them on an equal footing. It broke apart into several states at the end of World War I.
The union was a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and came into existence on 30 March 1867. Austria-Hungary consisted of two monarchies (Austria and Hungary), and one autonomous region: the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia under the Hungarian crown, which negotiated the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement in 1868. It was ruled by the House of Habsburg, and constituted the last phase in the constitutional evolution of the Habsburg Monarchy. Following the 1867 reforms, the Austrian and the Hungarian states were co-equal. Foreign affairs and the military came under joint oversight, but all other governmental faculties were divided between respective states.
Austria-Hungary was a multinational state and one of Europe's major powers at the time. Austria-Hungary was geographically the second-largest country in Europe after the Russian Empire, at 621,538 km2 (239,977 sq mi), and the third-most populous (after Russia and the German Empire). The Empire built up the fourth-largest machine building industry of the world, after the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Austria-Hungary also became the world's third largest manufacturer and exporter of electric home appliances, electric industrial appliances and power generation apparatus for power plants, after the United States and the German Empire.After 1878, Bosnia and Herzegovina was under Austro-Hungarian military and civilian rule until it was fully annexed in 1908, provoking the Bosnian crisis among the other powers. The northern part of the Ottoman Sanjak of Novi Pazar was also under de facto joint occupation during that period but the Austro-Hungarian army withdrew as part of their annexation of Bosnia. The annexation of Bosnia also led to Islam being recognized as an official state religion due to Bosnia's Muslim population.Austria-Hungary was one of the Central Powers in World War I which started when it declared war on the Kingdom of Serbia on 28 July 1914. It was already effectively dissolved by the time the military authorities signed the armistice of Villa Giusti on 3 November 1918. The Kingdom of Hungary and the First Austrian Republic were treated as its successors de jure, whereas the independence of the West Slavs and South Slavs of the Empire as the First Czechoslovak Republic, the Second Polish Republic and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, respectively, and most of the territorial demands of the Kingdom of Romania were also recognized by the victorious powers in 1920.Commonwealth realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in which Queen Elizabeth II is the reigning constitutional monarch and head of state. Each realm is independent from the other realms. As of 2019, there are 16 Commonwealth realms: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom. All 16 Commonwealth realms are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states. Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth.
In 1952, Britain's proclamation of Elizabeth II's accession used the term realms to describe the seven sovereign states of which she was queen—the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon. Since then, new realms have been created through independence of former colonies and dependencies and some realms have become republics.Constitutional monarchy
A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchy differs from absolute monarchy (in which a monarch holds absolute power) in that constitutional monarchs are bound to exercise their powers and authorities within the limits prescribed within an established legal framework. Constitutional monarchies range from countries such as Morocco, where the constitution grants substantial discretionary powers to the sovereign, to countries such as Japan and Sweden where the monarch retains no formal authorities.
Constitutional monarchy may refer to a system in which the monarch acts as a non-party political head of state under the constitution, whether written or unwritten. While most monarchs may hold formal authority and the government may legally operate in the monarch's name, in the form typical in Europe the monarch no longer personally sets public policy or chooses political leaders. Political scientist Vernon Bogdanor, paraphrasing Thomas Macaulay, has defined a constitutional monarch as "A sovereign who reigns but does not rule".In addition to acting as a visible symbol of national unity, a constitutional monarch may hold formal powers such as dissolving parliament or giving royal assent to legislation. However, the exercise of such powers is largely strictly in accordance with either written constitutional principles or unwritten constitutional conventions, rather than any personal political preference imposed by the sovereign. In The English Constitution, British political theorist Walter Bagehot identified three main political rights which a constitutional monarch may freely exercise: the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn. Many constitutional monarchies still retain significant authorities or political influence however, such as through certain reserve powers, and may also play an important political role.
The United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms are all constitutional monarchies in the Westminster system of constitutional governance. Two constitutional monarchies – Malaysia and Cambodia – are elective monarchies, wherein the ruler is periodically selected by a small electoral college.Feudalism
Feudalism was a combination of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.
Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the Middle Ages. In its classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944), feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs.A broader definition of feudalism, as described by Marc Bloch (1939), includes not only the obligations of the warrior nobility but also those of all three estates of the realm: the nobility, the clergy, and the peasantry bound by manorialism; this is sometimes referred to as a "feudal society". Since the publication of Elizabeth A. R. Brown's "The Tyranny of a Construct" (1974) and Susan Reynolds's Fiefs and Vassals (1994), there has been ongoing inconclusive discussion among medieval historians as to whether feudalism is a useful construct for understanding medieval society.Habsburg Monarchy
The Habsburg Monarchy (German: Habsburgermonarchie) – also Habsburg Empire, Austrian Monarchy or Danube Monarchy – is an unofficial umbrella term among historians for the countries and provinces that were ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg between 1526 and 1780 and then by the successor branch of Habsburg-Lorraine until 1918. The Monarchy was a typical composite state composed of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, united only in the person of the monarch. (The dynastic composite states were the most common / dominant form of states on the European continent in the early modern era.) The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.The head of the Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg was often elected Holy Roman Emperor: from 1452 until the Empire's dissolution in 1806, Charles VII of Bavaria (1742–1745) was the only Holy Roman Emperor who was not Habsburg ruler of Austria. The two entities were never coterminous, as the Habsburg Monarchy covered many lands beyond the Holy Roman Empire, and most of the Empire was ruled by other dynasties.
The Austrian Habsburg Monarchy must not be confused with the House of Habsburg, existing since the 11th century, whose vast domains were split up in 1556 between this Austrian branch and a Spanish branch after the abdication of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.Kingdom of France
The Kingdom of France (French: Royaume de France) was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Western Europe. It was one of the most powerful states in Europe and a great power since the Late Middle Ages and the Hundred Years' War. It was also an early colonial power, with possessions around the world.
France originated as West Francia (Francia Occidentalis), the western half of the Carolingian Empire, with the Treaty of Verdun (843). A branch of the Carolingian dynasty continued to rule until 987, when Hugh Capet was elected king and founded the Capetian dynasty. The territory remained known as Francia and its ruler as rex Francorum ("king of the Franks") well into the High Middle Ages. The first king calling himself Roi de France ("King of France") was Philip II, in 1190. France continued to be ruled by the Capetians and their cadet lines—the Valois and Bourbon—until the monarchy was overthrown in 1792 during the French Revolution.
France in the Middle Ages was a de-centralised, feudal monarchy. In Brittany and Catalonia (now a part of Spain) the authority of the French king was barely felt. Lorraine and Provence were states of the Holy Roman Empire and not yet a part of France. Initially, West Frankish kings were elected by the secular and ecclesiastic magnates, but the regular coronation of the eldest son of the reigning king during his father's lifetime established the principle of male primogeniture, which became codified in the Salic law. During the Late Middle Ages, the Kings of England laid claim to the French throne, resulting in a series of conflicts known as the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453). Subsequently, France sought to extend its influence into Italy, but was defeated by Spain in the ensuing Italian Wars (1494–1559).
France in the early modern era was increasingly centralised; the French language began to displace other languages from official use, and the monarch expanded his absolute power, albeit in an administrative system (the Ancien Régime) complicated by historic and regional irregularities in taxation, legal, judicial, and ecclesiastic divisions, and local prerogatives. Religiously France became divided between the Catholic majority and a Protestant minority, the Huguenots, which led to a series of civil wars, the Wars of Religion (1562–1598). France laid claim to large stretches of North America, known collectively as New France. Wars with Great Britain led to the loss of much of this territory by 1763. French intervention in the American Revolutionary War helped secure the independence of the new United States of America but was costly and achieved little for France.
The Kingdom of France adopted a written constitution in 1791, but the Kingdom was abolished a year later and replaced with the First French Republic. The monarchy was restored by the other great powers in 1814 and lasted (except for the Hundred Days in 1815) until the French Revolution of 1848.Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy)
The United Monarchy (Hebrew: הממלכה המאוחדת) is the name given to the Israelite kingdom of Israel and Judah, during the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon, as depicted in the Hebrew Bible. This is traditionally dated between 1050 BCE and 930 BCE. On the succession of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, around 930 BCE, the biblical account reports that the country split into two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Israel (including the cities of Shechem and Samaria) in the north and the Kingdom of Judah (containing Jerusalem) in the south.
In contemporary scholarship the united monarchy is generally held to be a literary construction and not a historical reality, pointing to the lack of archaeological evidence. It is generally accepted that a "House of David" existed, but many believe that David could have only been the monarch or chieftain of Judah, which was likely small, and that the northern kingdom was a separate development. There are some dissenters to this view.Kingdom of Italy
The Kingdom of Italy (Italian: Regno d'Italia) was a state which existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946—when civil discontent led a institutional referendum to abandon the monarchy and form the modern Italian Republic. The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which can be considered its legal predecessor state.
Italy declared war on Austria in alliance with Prussia in 1866 and received the region of Veneto following their victory. Italian troops entered Rome in 1870, thereby ending more than one thousand years of Papal temporal power. Italy entered into a Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1882, following strong disagreements with France about the respective colonial expansions. However, even if relations with Berlin became very friendly, the alliance with Vienna remained purely formal as the Italians were keen to acquire Trentino and Trieste, corners of Austria-Hungary populated by Italians. So in 1915, Italy accepted the British invitation to join the Allied Powers, as the western powers promised territorial compensation (at the expense of Austria-Hungary) for participation that was more generous than Vienna's offer in exchange for Italian neutrality. Victory in the war gave Italy a permanent seat in the Council of the League of Nations.
"Fascist Italy" is the era of National Fascist Party government from 1922 to 1943 with Benito Mussolini as head of government. The fascists imposed totalitarian rule and crushed the political and intellectual opposition, while promoting economic modernization, traditional social values and a rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church. According to Payne (1996), "[the] Fascist government passed through several relatively distinct phases". The first phase (1923–1925) was nominally a continuation of the parliamentary system, albeit with a "legally-organized executive dictatorship". Then came the second phase, "the construction of the Fascist dictatorship proper, from 1925 to 1929". The third phase, with less activism, was 1929 to 1934. The fourth phase, 1935–1940, was characterized by an aggressive foreign policy: war against Ethiopia, launched from Italian Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, which resulted in its annexation; confrontations with the League of Nations, leading to sanctions; growing economic autarky; and the signing of the Pact of Steel. The war itself (1940–1943) was the fifth phase with its disasters and defeats, while the rump Salò Government under German control was the final stage (1943–1945).Italy was an important member of the Axis powers in World War II, battling on several fronts with initial success. However, after the German-Italian defeat in Africa and Soviet Union and the subsequent Allied landings in Sicily, King Victor Emmanuel III placed Mussolini under arrest, and the Fascist Party in areas (south of Rome) controlled by the Allied invaders was shut down. The new government signed an armistice on September 1943. German forces immediately occupied northern Italy with Fascists' help, setting up the Italian Social Republic, a collaborationist puppet state still led by Mussolini and his Fascist loyalists. As conseguence, the country descended into civil war, with the Italian Co-belligerent Army and the resistance movement contended the Social Republic's forces and its German allies. Shortly after the war and the liberation of the country, civil discontent led to the institutional referendum on whether Italy would remain a monarchy or become a republic. Italians decided to abandon the monarchy and form the Italian Republic, the present-day Italian state.List of French monarchs
The monarchs of the Kingdom of France and its predecessors (and successor monarchies) ruled from the establishment of the Kingdom of the Franks in 486 until the fall of the Second French Empire in 1870, with several interruptions.
Sometimes included as 'Kings of France' are the kings of the Franks of the Merovingian dynasty, which ruled from 486 until 751, and of the Carolingians, who ruled until 987 (with some interruptions).
The Capetian dynasty, the male-line descendants of Hugh Capet, included the first rulers to adopt the title of 'King of France' for the first time with Philip II (r. 1180–1223).
The Capetians ruled continuously from 987 to 1792 and again from 1814 to 1848. The branches of the dynasty which ruled after 1328, however, are generally given the specific branch names of Valois (until 1589) and Bourbon (until 1848).
During the brief period when the French Constitution of 1791 was in effect (1791–92) and after the July Revolution in 1830, the style of "King of the French" was used instead of "King of France (and Navarre)". It was a constitutional innovation known as popular monarchy, which linked the monarch's title to the French people rather than to the possession of the territory of France.With the House of Bonaparte, "Emperors of the French" ruled in 19th-century France between 1804 and 1814, again in 1815, and between 1852 and 1870.Monarch
A monarch is a sovereign head of state in a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in the state, or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Typically a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state's sovereign rights (often referred to as the throne or the crown) or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation's monarch. Alternatively, an individual may become monarch by conquest, acclamation or a combination of means. A monarch usually reigns for life or until abdication.
If a young child is crowned the monarch, a regent is often appointed to govern until the monarch reaches the requisite adult age to rule. Monarchs' actual powers vary from one monarchy to another and in different eras; on one extreme, they may be autocrats (absolute monarchy) wielding genuine sovereignty; on the other they may be ceremonial heads of state who exercise little or no direct power or only reserve powers, with actual authority vested in a parliament or other body (constitutional monarchy).
A monarch can reign in multiple monarchies simultaneously. For example, the monarchy of Canada and the monarchy of the United Kingdom are separate states, but they share the same monarch through personal union.Monarchy of Australia
The monarchy of Australia concerns the form of government in which a hereditary king or queen serves as the nation's sovereign and head of state. Australia is governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, largely modelled on the Westminster system of parliamentary government, while incorporating features unique to the Constitution of Australia. The present monarch is Elizabeth II, styled Queen of Australia, who has reigned since 6 February 1952. She is represented in Australia as a whole by the Governor-General, in accordance with the Australian Constitution and letters patent from the Queen, and in each of the Australian states, according to the state constitutions, by a governor, assisted by a lieutenant-governor. The monarch appoints the Governor-General and the governors, on the advice respectively of the Commonwealth government and each state government. These are now almost the only constitutional functions of the monarch with regard to Australia.Australian constitutional law provides that the monarch of the United Kingdom is also the monarch in Australia. This is understood today to constitute a separate Australian monarchy, the monarch acting with regard to Australian affairs exclusively upon the advice of Australian ministers. Australia is thus one of the Commonwealth realms, sixteen independent countries that share the same person as monarch and head of state. The role and future of the monarchy has been a recurring topic of public discussion.Monarchy of Canada
The monarchy of Canada is at the core of both Canada's federal structure and Westminster-style of parliamentary and constitutional democracy. The monarchy is the foundation of the executive (Queen-in-Council), legislative (Queen-in-Parliament), and judicial (Queen-on-the-Bench) branches within both federal and provincial jurisdictions. The sovereign is the personification of the Canadian state and is Queen of Canada as a matter of constitutional law. The current Canadian monarch and head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 6 February 1952. Elizabeth's eldest son, Prince Charles, is heir apparent.
Although the person of the sovereign is shared with 15 other independent countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, each country's monarchy is separate and legally distinct. As a result, the current monarch is officially titled Queen of Canada and, in this capacity, she, her consort, and other members of the Canadian Royal Family undertake public and private functions domestically and abroad as representatives of Canada. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role. While some powers are exercisable only by the sovereign (such as appointing governors general), most of the monarch's operational and ceremonial duties (such as summoning the House of Commons and accrediting ambassadors) are exercised by his or her representative, the Governor General of Canada. In Canada's provinces, the monarch in right of each is represented by a lieutenant governor. As territories fall under the federal jurisdiction, they each have a commissioner, rather than a lieutenant governor, who represents the federal Crown-in-Council directly.As all executive authority is vested in the sovereign, their assent is required to allow for bills to become law and for letters patent and orders in council to have legal effect. While the power for these acts stems from the Canadian people through the constitutional conventions of democracy, executive authority remains vested in the Crown and is only entrusted by the sovereign to their government on behalf of the people, underlining the Crown's role in safeguarding the rights, freedoms, and democratic system of government of Canadians, and reinforcing the fact that "governments are the servants of the people and not the reverse". Thus, within a constitutional monarchy the sovereign's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited, with the sovereign normally exercising executive authority only on the advice of the executive committee of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, with the sovereign's legislative and judicial responsibilities largely carried out through parliamentarians as well as judges and justices of the peace. The Crown today primarily functions as a guarantor of continuous and stable governance and a nonpartisan safeguard against abuse of power, the sovereign acting as a custodian of the Crown's democratic powers and a representation of the "power of the people above government and political parties".Canada is one of the oldest continuing monarchies in the world. Initially established in the 16th century, monarchy in Canada has evolved through a continuous succession of French and British sovereigns into the independent Canadian sovereigns of today, whose institution is sometimes colloquially referred to as the Maple Crown.Monarchy of Denmark
The Monarchy of Denmark, colloquially known as the Danish Monarchy, is a constitutional institution and a historic office of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Kingdom includes not only Denmark, but the autonomous regions of Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The Kingdom of Denmark were already consolidated in the 8th century, whose rulers are consistently referred to in Frankish sources (and in some late Frisian sources) as Kings (Reges). Under the rule of King Gudfred in 804 the Kingdom may have included all the major provinces of medieval Denmark
The current unified kingdom of Denmark was founded by the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth in the 10th century, making the monarchy of Denmark the third oldest in Europe. Originally an elective monarchy, it became hereditary only in the 17th century during the reign of Frederick III. A decisive transition to a constitutional monarchy occurred in 1849 with the writing of the first Constitution. The current Royal House is a branch of the princely family of Glücksburg, originally from Schleswig-Holstein in modern-day Germany, the same royal house as the Norwegian and former Greek royal families.
The Danish Monarchy is constitutional and as such, the role of the monarch is defined and limited by the Constitution of Denmark. According to the constitution, the ultimate executive authority over the government of Denmark is still by and through the monarch's royal reserve powers; in practice these powers are only used according to laws enacted in Parliament or within the constraints of convention. The monarch is, in practice, limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours and appointing the Prime Minister. The monarch and his or her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial, diplomatic and representational duties.
Queen Margrethe II ascended the throne on the death of her father, King Frederick IX, on 14 January 1972. On her accession, Queen Margrethe II became the first female monarch of Denmark since Margrethe I, ruler of the Scandinavian countries in 1375‒1412, during the Kalmar Union. Danish regnal names have traditionally (since 1513) alternated between "Frederick" (Frederik) and "Christian"; Margrethe has taken the place of a Christian, and accordingly her heir apparent is Crown Prince Frederik.Monarchy of Spain
The monarchy of Spain (Spanish: Monarquía Española), constitutionally referred to as The Crown (Spanish: La Corona), is a constitutional institution and historic office of Spain. The monarchy comprises the reigning monarch, his or her family, and the royal household organization which supports and facilitates the monarch in the exercise of his duties and prerogatives. The Spanish monarchy is currently represented by King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, and their daughters Leonor, Princess of Asturias, and Infanta Sofía.
The Spanish Constitution of 1978 re-established a constitutional monarchy as the form of government for Spain. The 1978 constitution affirmed the role of the King of Spain as the personification and embodiment of the Spanish State and a symbol of Spain's enduring unity and permanence. Constitutionally, the king is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the Spanish Armed Forces. The constitution codifies the use of royal styles and titulary, Royal Prerogatives, hereditary succession to the crown, compensation, and a regency-guardianship contingency in cases of the monarch's minority or incapacitation. According to the constitution, the monarch is also instrumental in promoting relations with the "nations of its historical community". The King of Spain serves as the president of the Ibero-American States Organization, purportedly representing over 700,000,000 people in twenty-four member nations worldwide. In 2008, King Juan Carlos I was considered the most popular leader in all Ibero-America.The Spanish monarchy has its roots in the Visigothic Kingdom founded in Spain and Aquitania in the 5th century, and its Christian successor states which fought the Reconquista following the Umayyad invasion of Hispania in the 8th century. A dynastic marriage between Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon united Spain in the 15th century. The last pretender of the Crown of the Byzantine Empire, Andreas Palaiologos, sold his imperial title to Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile before his death in 1502.The Spanish Empire became one of the first global powers as Isabella and Ferdinand funded Christopher Columbus's exploratory voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. This led to the discovery of America, which became the focus of Spanish colonization.
In 2018, the budget for the Spanish monarchy was 7.9 million euros, one of the lowest public expenditures for the institution of monarchy in Europe.Monarchy of Thailand
The monarchy of Thailand (whose monarch is referred to as the King of Thailand or historically as the King of Siam; Thai: พระมหากษัตริย์ไทย) refers to the constitutional monarchy and monarch of the Kingdom of Thailand (formerly Siam). The King of Thailand is the head of state and head of the ruling Royal House of Chakri.
Although the current Chakri Dynasty was created in 1782, the existence of the institution of monarchy in Thailand is traditionally considered to have its roots from the founding of the Sukhothai Kingdom in 1238, with a brief interregnum from the death of Ekkathat to the accession of Taksin in the 18th century. The institution was transformed into a constitutional monarchy in 1932 after the bloodless Siamese Revolution of 1932. The monarchy's official ceremonial residence is the Grand Palace in Bangkok, while the private residence has been at the Dusit Palace.
The King of Thailand's titles include Head of State, Head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, Adherent of Buddhism and Upholder of religions.Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom, its dependencies (the Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Isle of Man) and its overseas territories. The current monarch and head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne in 1952.
The monarch and their immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial, diplomatic and representational duties. As the monarchy is constitutional, the monarch is limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours and appointing the Prime Minister. The monarch is commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. Though the ultimate executive authority over the government is still formally by and through the monarch's royal prerogative, these powers may only be used according to laws enacted in Parliament and, in practice, within the constraints of convention and precedent.
The British monarchy traces its origins from the petty kingdoms of early medieval Scotland and Anglo-Saxon England, which consolidated into the kingdoms of England and Scotland by the 10th century. England was conquered by the Normans in 1066, after which Wales too gradually came under control of Anglo-Normans. The process was completed in the 13th century when the Principality of Wales became a client state of the English kingdom. Meanwhile, Magna Carta began a process of reducing the English monarch's political powers. From 1603, the English and Scottish kingdoms were ruled by a single sovereign. From 1649 to 1660, the tradition of monarchy was broken by the republican Commonwealth of England, which followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The Act of Settlement 1701 excluded Roman Catholics, or those who married them, from succession to the English throne. In 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged to create the Kingdom of Great Britain, and in 1801, the Kingdom of Ireland joined to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The British monarch was the nominal head of the vast British Empire, which covered a quarter of the world's surface at its greatest extent in 1921.
In the early 1920s the Balfour Declaration recognised the evolution of the Dominions of the Empire into separate, self-governing countries within a Commonwealth of Nations. After the Second World War, the vast majority of British colonies and territories became independent, effectively bringing the Empire to an end. George VI and his successor, Elizabeth II, adopted the title Head of the Commonwealth as a symbol of the free association of its independent member states. The United Kingdom and fifteen other independent sovereign states that share the same person as their monarch are called Commonwealth realms. Although the monarch is shared, each country is sovereign and independent of the others, and the monarch has a different, specific, and official national title and style for each realm.The Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy took place in the Stuart period. It began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under King Charles II. This followed the Interregnum, also called the Protectorate, that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.
The term Restoration is used to describe both the actual event by which the monarchy was restored, and the period of several years afterwards in which a new political settlement was established. It is very often used to cover the whole reign of Charles II (1660–1685) and often the brief reign of his younger brother James II (1685–1688). In certain contexts it may be used to cover the whole period of the later Stuart monarchs as far as the death of Queen Anne and the accession of the Hanoverian George I in 1714; for example Restoration comedy typically encompasses works written as late as 1710.Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as a single power in which the central government is ultimately supreme. The central government may create (or abolish) administrative divisions (sub-national units). Such units exercise only the powers that the central government chooses to delegate. Although political power may be delegated through devolution to local governments by statute, the central government may abrogate the acts of devolved governments or curtail (or expand) their powers. A large majority of the world's states (165 of the 193 UN member states) have a unitary system of government.Unitary states stand in contrast with federations, also known as federal states. In federations, the sub-national governments share powers with the central government as equal actors through a written constitution, to which the consent of both is required to make amendments. This means that the sub-national units have a right of existence and powers that cannot be unilaterally changed by the central government.The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an example of a unitary state. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a degree of autonomous devolved power, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution (England does not have any devolved power). Similarly in the Kingdom of Spain, where the devolved powers are delegated through the central government. Many unitary states have no areas possessing a degree of autonomy. In such countries, sub-national regions cannot decide their own laws. Examples are Romania, the Republic of Ireland and the Kingdom of Norway.