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Absolute monarchy
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{{Original research|date=June 2019}}{{short description|Form of government in which the monarch has absolute power}}{{Monarchism|expanded = Varieties}}Absolute monarchyBOOK, Goldie, Mark, Wokler, Robert, The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought, Cambridge University Press, 9780521374224, 523,weblink 13 January 2016, Philosophical kingship and enlightened despotism, 2006-08-31, BOOK, Leopardi, Giacomo, Giacomo Leopardi, Zibaldone, 2013, original 1898, Farrar Straus Giroux, 978-0374296827, 1438,weblink (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme autocratic authority, principally not being restricted by written laws, legislature, or customs.BOOK, Nathanial Harris, Systems of Government Monarchy,weblink 2009, Evans Brothers, 978-0-237-53932-0, 10, 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.Jerome Blum et al., The European World (1970) 1:267-68The popularity of the notion of absolute monarchy declined substantially after the French Revolution, which promoted theories of government based on popular sovereignty.Some monarchies have a weak or symbolic legislature and other governmental bodies which the monarch can alter or dissolve at will. Countries where monarchs still maintain absolute power are: Brunei, Eswatini, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Vatican City and the individual emirates composing the United Arab Emirates, which itself is a federation of such monarchies – a federal monarchy.NEWS, Qatar: regional backwater to global player,weblink BBC News, 2013-01-07, Stephens, Michael, NEWS, Q&A: Elections to Oman's Consultative Council,weblink BBC News, 2011-10-13, NEWS, Swaziland profile,weblink BBC News, 2018-09-03, WEB,weblink State Departments, Vaticanstate.va, 2014-01-25, NEWS, Vatican to Emirates, monarchs keep the reins in modern world,weblink Times of India, WEB,weblink State Departments, www.vaticanstate.va, 2019-09-21,

History and examples of absolute monarchies

Outside Europe

In Ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh wielded absolute power over the country and was considered a living god by his people. In ancient Mesopotamia, many rulers of Assyria, Babylonia and Sumer were absolute monarchs as well. In ancient and medieval India, rulers of the Maurya, Satavahana, Gupta, Chola and Chalukya Empires, as well as other major and minor empires, were considered absolute monarchs. In the Khmer Empire, the kings were called 'Devaraja' and 'Chakravartin' (King of the world), and exercised absolute power over the empire and people.Throughout Imperial China, many emperors and one empress wielded absolute power through the Mandate of Heaven. In pre-Columbian America, the Inca Empire was ruled by a Sapa Inca, who was considered the son of Inti, the sun god and absolute ruler over the people and nation. Korea under the Joseon dynasty and short-lived empire was also an absolute monarchy.BOOK,weblink Interior Space and Furniture of Joseon Upper-class Houses, Sang-hun, Choi, 27 October 2017, Ewha Womans University Press, Google Books, 16, Joseon was an absolute monarchy, 9788973007202, In the Ottoman Empire, many sultans wielded absolute power through heavenly mandates reflected in their title, the "Shadow of God on Earth".

Europe

Throughout much of European history, the divine right of kings was the theological justification for absolute monarchy. Many European monarchs, such as those of Russia, claimed supreme autocratic power by divine right, and that their subjects had no rights to limit their power. James VI of Scotland (later also James I of England) and his son Charles I of Scotland and England tried to import this principle. Charles I's attempt to enforce episcopal polity on the Church of Scotland led to rebellion by the Covenanters and the Bishops' Wars, then fears that Charles I was attempting to establish absolutist government along European lines was a major cause of the English Civil War, despite the fact that he did rule this way for 11 years starting in 1629, after dissolving the Parliament of England for a time. By the 19th century, the Divine Right was regarded as an obsolete theory in most countries in the Western world, except in Russia where it was still given credence as the official justification for the Tsar's power until February Revolution in 1917.There is a considerable variety of opinion by historians on the extent of absolutism among European monarchs. Some, such as Perry Anderson, argue that quite a few monarchs achieved levels of absolutist control over their states, while historians such as Roger Mettam dispute the very concept of absolutism.Mettam, Roger. Power and Faction in Louis XIV's France, 1991. In general, historians who disagree with the appellation of absolutism argue that most monarchs labeled as absolutist exerted no greater power over their subjects than any other non-absolutist rulers, and these historians tend to emphasize the differences between the absolutist rhetoric of monarchs and the realities of the effective use of power by these absolute monarchs. Renaissance historian William Bouwsma summed up this contradiction:

France

{{further|Absolute monarchy in France}}File:Louis XIV of France.jpg|thumb|right|Louis XIV of FranceLouis XIV of FranceThough some historians{{who|date=October 2018}} doubt it, Louis XIV of France (1638–1715) is often said to have proclaimed "L'état, c'est moi" ("I am the State!").NEWS,weblink Louis XIV, HISTORY, 2018-10-05, en, Although often criticized for his extravagances, such as the Palace of Versailles, he reigned over France for a long period, and some historians consider him a successful absolute monarch. More recently, revisionist historians{{who|date=October 2018}} have questioned whether Louis' reign should be considered 'absolute',{{Such as?|date=October 2018}} given the reality of the balance of power between the monarch and the nobility.Mettam, R. Power and Faction in Louis XIV's France, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988.{{Request quotation|date=October 2018}}The King of France concentrated legislative, executive, and judicial powers in his person. He was the supreme judicial authority. He could condemn people to death without the right of appeal. It was both his duty to punish offenses and stop them from being committed. From his judicial authority followed his power both to make laws and to annul them.Mousnier, R. The Institutions of France under the Absolute Monarchy, 1598-2012 V1. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979.

Denmark–Norway

Absolutism was underpinned by a written constitution for the first time in Europe in 1665 Kongeloven ("King's Law") of Denmark-Norway, which ordered that the Monarch "shall from this day forth be revered and considered the most perfect and supreme person on the Earth by all his subjects, standing above all human laws and having no judge above his person, neither in spiritual nor temporal matters, except God alone".WEB,weblink Kongeloven af 1665, Danske konger, da, dead,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20120330135036weblink">weblink 2012-03-30, A partial English translation of the law can be found in Ernst Ekman, "The Danish Royal Law of 1665" pp. 102-107 in: The Journal of Modern History, 1957, vol. 2. This law consequently authorized the king to abolish all other centers of power. Most important was the abolition of the Council of the Realm.

Prussia

In Brandenburg-Prussia, the concept of absolute monarch took a notable turn from the above with its emphasis on the monarch as the "first servant of the state", but it also echoed many of the important characteristics of Absolutism. Frederick William (r. 1640–1688), known as the Great Elector, used the uncertainties of the final stages of the Thirty Years' War{{citation needed|date=October 2012}} to consolidate his territories into the dominant kingdom in northern Germany, whilst increasing his power over his subjects. His actions largely originated the militaristic streak of the Hohenzollern.In 1653 the Diet of Brandenburg met for the last time and gave Frederick William the power to raise taxes without its consent, a strong indicator of absolutism.{{dispute-inline|date=December 2018}} Frederick William enjoyed support from the nobles, who enabled the Great Elector to undermine the Diet and other representative assemblies. The leading families saw their future in cooperation with the central government and worked to establish absolutist power.The most significant indicator of the nobles' success was the establishment of two tax rates – one for the cities and the other for the countryside – to the great advantage of the latter, which the nobles ruled. The nobles served in the upper levels of the elector's army and bureaucracy, but they also won new prosperity for themselves. The support of the Elector enabled the imposition of serfdom and the consolidation of land holdings into vast estates which provided for their wealth.They became known as Junkers (from the German for young lord, junger Herr). Frederick William faced resistance from representative assemblies and long-independent cities in his realm. City leaders often revolted at the imposition of Electorate authority. The last notable effort was the uprising of the city of Königsberg which allied with the Estates General of Prussia to refuse to pay taxes. Frederick William crushed this revolt in 1662, by marching into the city with thousands of troops. A similar approach was used with the towns of Cleves.The Western Experience, Seventh Edition, Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1999.

Russia

Until 1905 the Tsars and Emperors of Russia governed as absolute monarchs. Ivan the Terrible was known for his reign of terror through oprichnina. Peter I the Great reduced the power of the Russian nobility and strengthened the central power of the monarch, establishing a bureaucracy and a police state. This tradition of absolutism, known as Tsarist autocracy, was expanded by Catherine II the Great and her descendants. Although Alexander II made some reforms and established an independent judicial system, Russia did not have a representative assembly or a constitution until the 1905 Revolution. However, the concept of absolutism was so ingrained in Russia that the Russian Constitution of 1906 still described the monarch as an autocrat. Russia became the last European country (excluding Vatican City) to abolish absolutism, and it was the only one to do so as late as the 20th century (the Ottoman Empire drafted its first constitution in 1877).

Sweden

The form of government instituted in Sweden under King Charles XI and passed on to his son, Charles XII is commonly referred to as absolute monarchy; however, the Swedish monarch was never absolute in the sense that he wielded arbitrary power. The monarch still ruled under the law and could only legislate in agreement with the Riksdag of the Estates; rather, the absolutism introduced was the monarch's ability to run the government unfettered by the privy council, contrary to earlier practice. The absolute rule of Charles XI was instituted by the crown and the Riksdag in order to carry out the Great Reduction which would have been made impossible by the privy council which comprised the high nobility. After the death of Charles XII in 1718, the system of absolute rule was largely blamed for the ruination of the realm in the Great Northern War, and the reaction tipped the balance of power to the other extreme end of the spectrum, ushering in the Age of Liberty. After half a century of largely unrestricted parliamentary rule proved just as ruinous, King Gustav III seized back royal power in the coup d'état of 1772, and later once again abolished the privy council under the Union and Security Act in 1789, which, in turn, was rendered void in 1809 when Gustav IV Adolf was deposed in a coup and the constitution of 1809 was put in its place. The years between 1789 and 1809, then, are also referred to as a period of absolute monarchy.

Contemporary trends

{{more citations needed section|date=May 2015}}Many nations formerly with absolute monarchies, such as Jordan, Kuwait and Morocco, have moved towards constitutional monarchy, although in some cases the monarch retains tremendous power, to the point that the parliament's influence on political life is negligible.In Bhutan, the government moved from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy following planned parliamentary elections to the Tshogdu in 2003, and the election of a National Assembly in 2008.Nepal had several swings between constitutional rule and direct rule related to the Nepalese Civil War, the Maoist insurgency, and the 2001 Nepalese royal massacre, with the Nepalese monarchy being abolished on May 28, 2008.In Tonga, the King had majority control of the Legislative Assembly until 2010.Liechtenstein has moved towards expanding the power of the monarch: the Prince of Liechtenstein was given expanded powers after a referendum amending the Constitution of Liechtenstein in 2003, which led the BBC to describe the prince as an "absolute monarch again".NEWS,weblink Liechtenstein prince wins powers, BBC News, 2015-10-26, 2003-03-16, The ruling Kim family of North Korea (Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un) has been described as a de facto absolute monarchyYoung W. Kihl, Hong Nack Kim. North Korea: The Politics of Regime Survival. Armonk, New York, USA: M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2006. Pp 56.Robert A. Scalapino, Chong-Sik Lee. The Society. University of California Press, 1972. Pp. 689.Bong Youn Choy. A history of the Korean reunification movement: its issues and prospects. Research Committee on Korean Reunification, Institute of International Studies, Bradley University, 1984. Pp. 117. or "hereditary dictatorship".NEWS,weblink A tale of two dictatorships: The links between North Korea and Syria, Sheridan, Michael, 16 September 2007, The Times, 9 April 2010, London, In 2013, Clause 2 of Article 10 of the new edited Ten Fundamental Principles of the Korean Workers' Party states that the party and revolution must be carried "eternally" by the "Paektu (Kim's) bloodline".The Twisted Logic of the N.Korean Regime, Chosun Ilbo, 2013-08-13, Accessed date: 2017-01-11">

Current absolute monarchies{| class"wikitable plainrowheaders sortable"

! Realm !!Image !! Monarch !Born!Age!! Reign Since !! Reign Length !! Succession !! class=unsortable| Ref(s)
Brunei|name=Brunei Darussalam}}100px)194615|df=yes}}194615|age=no}}4 October 1967}}{{ayd10Line of succession to the Bruneian throne>HereditaryWEB
, Government of Brunei
, Prime Minister
, The Royal Ark
, Office of the Prime Minister
,weblink
, 12 November 2011
, dead
,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20111007033949weblink">weblink
, 7 October 2011
,
Oman|name=Sultanate of Oman}}100px)194018|df=yes}}194018|age=no}}23 July 1970}}{{ayd07Line of succession to the Omani throne>HereditaryWEB
, Sultan Qaboos Centre for Islamic Culture
, About H.M the Sultan
, Government of Oman, Diwan of the Royal Court
,weblink
, 12 November 2011
, dead
,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20120118223700weblink">weblink
, 18 January 2012
, BOOK
, Nyrop, Richard F
, Area Handbook for the Persian Gulf States
, Wildside Press LLC
, 2008
, 341
,weblink
, 978-1-4344-6210-7,
Qatar|name=State of Qatar}}100px)19803|df=yes}}19803|age=no}}25 June 2013}}{{ayd06Line of succession to the Qatari throne>HereditaryBBC News, How democratic is the Middle East?, 9 September 2005.United States Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011: Qatar, 2011. WEB
, Government of Qatar
, H.H. The Amir's Biography
, Diwan of the Amiri Court
,weblink
, 12 November 2011
, dead
,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20111202072946weblink">weblink
, 2 December 2011
,
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia}}100px)193531|df=yes}}193531|age=no}}23 January 2015}}{{ayd01Succession to the Saudi Arabian throne>Hereditary and electiveSAUDI ARABIA'S KING ABDULLAH DIES >URL=HTTPS://WWW.BBC.COM/NEWS/WORLD-MIDDLE-EAST-30945324 BBC NEWS >DATE=23 JANUARY 2015, 23 January 2015,
Eswatini|name=Kingdom of Eswatini}}100px)196819|df=yes}}196819|age=no}}25 April 1986}}{{ayd04Line of succession to the Swazi throne>Hereditary and elective{{Citation
| last = Simelane
| first = H.S.
| contribution = Swaziland: Mswati III, Reign of
| year = 2005
| title = Encyclopedia of African history
| editor-last = Shillington
| editor-first = Kevin
| volume = 3
| pages = 1528–30
| publisher = Fitzroy Dearborn
| id = 9781579584559}}
Vatican City|name=Vatican City State}}100px) 193617|df=yes}}193617|age=no}}13 March 2013}}{{ayd03Papal conclave>Elective ARGENTINA'S JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO ELECTED POPE >URL=HTTPS://WWW.BBC.COM/NEWS/WORLD-EUROPE-21777494 BBC NEWS >ACCESSDATE=13 MARCH 2013,
United Arab Emirates}}100px)19487|df=yes}}19487|age=no}}3 November 2004}}{{ayd11Federal Supreme Council (United Arab Emirates)>Hereditary and elective

Saudi Arabia

File:Salman bin Abdull aziz December 9, 2013.jpg|thumb|right|upright=0.7|Salman, King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy MosquesCustodian of the Two Holy MosquesSaudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, and according to the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia adopted by royal decree in 1992, the king must comply with Shari'a (Islamic law) and the Qur'an.BOOK, World and Its Peoples: the Arabian Peninsula, Cavendish, Marshall, 2007, 978-0-7614-7571-2, 78, The Qur'an and the corpus of Sunnah (traditions of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad) are declared to be the Kingdom's constitution, but no written modern constitution has ever been written for Saudi Arabia, which remains one of two Arab nations where no national elections have ever taken place since its founding, with the other being Qatar.BOOK, Encyclopedia of world constitutions, Volume 1, Robbers, Gerhard, 2007, 978-0-8160-6078-8, 791, No political parties or national elections are permitted and according to The Economist's 2010 Democracy Index, the Saudi government is the seventh most authoritarian regime from among the 167 countries rated.WEB,weblink The Economist Democracy Index 2010, The Economist Intelligence Unit, The Economist, 6 June 2011,

Scholarship

Anthropology, sociology, and ethology as well as various other disciplines such as political science attempt to explain the rise of absolute monarchy ranging from extrapolation generally, to certain Marxist explanations in terms of the class struggle as the underlying dynamic of human historical development generally and absolute monarchy in particular.In the 17th century, French legal theorist Jean Domat defended the concept of absolute monarchy in works such as "On Social Order and Absolute Monarchy", citing absolute monarchy as preserving natural order as God intended.WEB,weblink Jean Domat: On Defense of Absolute Monarchy - Cornell College Student Symposium, 18 April 2009,

See also

{hide}Columns-list|colwidth=30em| {edih}

References

{{Reflist|30em}}

Further reading

  • Anderson, Perry. Lineages of the Absolutist State. London: Verso, 1974.
  • Beloff, Max. The Age of Absolutism From 1660 to 1815 (1961)
  • Blum, Jerome et al. The European World (vol 1 1970) pp 267–466
  • Kimmel, Michael S. Absolutism and Its Discontents: State and Society in Seventeenth-Century France and England. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1988.
  • Méttam, Roger. Power and Faction in Louis XIV's France. New York: Blackwell Publishers, 1988.
  • Miller, John (ed.). Absolutism in Seventeenth Century Europe. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1990.
  • Wilson, Peter H. Absolutism in Central Europe. New York: Routledge, 2000.
  • Zmohra, Hillay. Monarchy, Aristocracy, and the State in Europe - 1300-1800. New York: Routledge, 2001
{{Authoritarian types of rule}}{{Political ideologies |state=expanded}}{{History of Europe}}{{Authority control}}

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