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Absolute monarchy

From Academic Kids

Absolute monarchy is an idealized form of government, a monarchy where the ruler has the power to rule his or her country and citizens freely with no laws or legally-organized direct opposition telling him or her what to do, although some religious authority may be able to discourage the monarch from some acts and the sovereign is expected to act according to custom. As a theory of civics, absolute monarchy puts total trust in well-bred and well-trained monarchs raised for the role from birth.

In theory, an absolute monarch has total power over his or her people and land, including the aristocracy, but in practice, absolute monarchs have often found their power limited.


History

The theory of absolute monarchy developed in the late Middle Ages from feudalism during which monarchs were still very much first among equals among the nobility. With the creation of centralized administrations and standing armies backed by expensive artillery, the power of the monarch gradually increased relative to the nobles, and from this was created the theory of absolute monarchy. Early Absolutists advocated the theory of Divine Right of Kings or Ancient Race of Kings to justify their position.

In the 17th century, efforts by the English monarch to create an absolute monarchy led to persistent struggles with Parliament which the monarch eventually lost.

In France, the monarchy was able to eventually centralise its powers and sideline Parliament and nobles. A classic example of an absolute monarchy is that of Louis XIV of France. During the Enlightenment, the theory of absolute monarchy was supported by some intellectuals as a form of enlightened despotism. However, it must be pointed out that while Louis XV and Louis XVI were absolute monarchs in theory, they had to contend with many private interests, some of which opposed reforms, such as the great nobility and the parlements. Enlightened despotism was discredited with the fall of Napoleon though the Russian Tsars still advocated Divine Right.

The popularity of the notion of absolute monarchy declined substantially after the French Revolution and American Revolution, which promoted theories of government based on popular sovereignty.

Modern examples

The four remaining absolute monarchies in the modern world are Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Nepal and Swaziland. One can also add the Vatican city-state (headed by the Pope, who has absolute power).

In Jordan and Morocco, the monarch (although not absolute) retains considerable power.

In Liechtenstein, nearly two-thirds of the tiny principality's electorate have agreed to give Prince Hans Adam veto power asked for. Although this does not make Hans Adam an absolute monarch, it makes him closer to being an absolute monarch than almost all other royals in Europe.

Many of the nations in the Middle East, such as Qatar, and Kuwait, are said to be absolute monarchies as well, as their monarchs continue to hold great power under their respective constitutions. However, in these cases there are also parliaments and other council bodies that advise and curtail the monarch's effective authority.

See also

id:Monarki mutlak is:Einveldi lt:Absoliutinė monarchija ms:Monarki mutlak nl:Absolute monarchie ja:絶対君主制 pl:Monarchia absolutna ru:Абсолютная монархия zh:君主制

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