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Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of
monarchy A monarchy is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a ...
in which the
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...

monarch
holds supreme
autocratic Autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power over a State (polity), state is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (exc ...
authority, principally not being restricted by written laws,
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
, or customs. These are often hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in
constitutional monarchies A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated el ...
, the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
's authority derives from or is legally bound or restricted by a
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitution
or
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
. The popularity of the notion of the absolute monarchy declined substantially after the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
, which promoted theories of government based on
popular sovereignty Popular sovereignty is the principle that the authority of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The ...
. 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 Brunei ( ; ), officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace ( ms, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: ), is a sovereign state, country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coa ...

Brunei
,
Eswatini Eswatini ( ; ss, eSwatini ), officially the Kingdom of Eswatini and formerly officially entitled (and still often known) in English as Swaziland ( ; officially renamed in 2018), is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country ...

Eswatini
,
Oman Oman ( ; ar, عُمَان ' ), officially the Sultanate of Oman ( ar, سلْطنةُ عُمان ), is a country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. Formerly a maritime empire, Oman is the oldest continuously in ...

Oman
,
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
,
Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vatica ...

Vatican City
and the individual emirates composing the
United Arab Emirates The United Arab Emirates (UAE; ar, الإمارات العربية المتحدة ) or the Emirates ( ar, الإمارات ), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregio ...

United Arab Emirates
, which itself is a
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...

federation
of such monarchies – a
federal monarchy A federal monarchy, in the strict sense, is a federation of Country, states with a single monarch as overall head of the federation, but retaining different monarchs, or having a non-monarchical system of government, in the various states joi ...
.


Historical examples of absolute monarchies


Outside Europe

In
Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

Ancient Egypt
, the
Pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. ...

Pharaoh
wielded absolute power over the country and was considered a living god by his people. In
ancient Mesopotamia The (pre)history of Mesopotamia ranges from the earliest human occupation in the Paleolithic period up to the Late antiquity. This history is pieced together from evidence retrieved from archaeological excavations and, after the introduction of w ...
, many rulers of
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
,
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
and
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", iĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)from ''The ...

Sumer
were absolute monarchs as well. In ancient and medieval India, rulers of the
Maurya The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age list of ancient great powers, historical power in South Asia based in Magadha, founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BCE, and existing in loose-knit fashion until 185 BCE. Quote: "Ma ...

Maurya
,
Satavahana The Satavahanas (''Sādavāhana'' or ''Sātavāhana'', International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration, IAST: ), also referred to as the Andhras in the Puranas, were an ancient Indian dynasty based in the Deccan Plateau, Deccan region. Mos ...
,
Gupta Gupta () is a common surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community. Practices vary by culture. The family name may be placed at either ...

Gupta
,
Chola The Chola dynasty ( ta, சோழ வம்சம்) was a Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysian ...

Chola
and
Chalukya The Chalukya dynasty () was a Classical Indian dynasty that ruled large parts of south India, southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. During this period, they ruled as three related yet individual dynasties. The ear ...
Empires, as well as other major and minor empires, were considered absolute monarchs. In the
Khmer Empire The Khmer Empire ( km, ចក្រភពខ្មែរ), or the Angkorian Empire ( km, ចក្រភពអង្គរ, link=no), are the terms that historians use to refer to Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ព ...

Khmer Empire
, the kings were called ''
Devaraja "Devarāja" was the religious order of the "god-king", or Divinity, deified monarch in medieval Southeast Asia. The devarāja order grew out of both Hinduism and separate local traditions depending on the area. It taught that the monarch, king ...
'' 'god-king' and ''
Chakravartin In Indian religions, a ''chakravarti'' (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branc ...
'', and exercised absolute power over the empire and people. Throughout
Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and ...
, many
emperors An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the he ...
and one empress (
Wu Zetian Wu Zhao, commonly known as Wu Zetian (17 February 624 – 26 November 705), alternatively Wu Hou, and during the later Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, ...
) wielded absolute power through the
Mandate of Heaven The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsAztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of cont ...
. In pre-Columbian America, the
Inca Empire The Inca Empire, also known as Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, and at the time known as the Realm of the Four Parts,,  "four parts together" was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military c ...

Inca Empire
was ruled by a
Sapa Inca The Sapa Inca (from Quechua Quechua may refer to: *Quechua people, several indigenous ethnic groups in South America, especially in Peru *Quechuan languages, a Native South American language family spoken primarily in the Andes, derived from a ...
, who was considered the son of
Inti Inti is the ancient Incan sun god A solar deity (also sun goddess or sun god) is a sky deity who represents the Sun, or an aspect of it, usually by its perceived power and strength. Solar deities and Sun worship can be found throughout ...

Inti
, the sun god and absolute ruler over the people and nation. Korea under the
Joseon dynasty Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and repl ...
and short-lived
empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and ...
was also an absolute monarchy.


Europe

Throughout much of European history, the
divine right of kings In European Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Majo ...
was the theological justification for absolute monarchy. Many European monarchs claimed supreme autocratic power by divine right, and that their subjects had no rights to limit their power.
James VI and I James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy, constitutional form of gover ...

James VI and I
and his son
Charles ICharles I may refer to: Kings and emperors * Charlemagne (742–814), numbered Charles I in the lists of French and German kings * Charles I of Anjou (1226–1285), also king of Albania, Jerusalem, Naples and Sicily * Charles I of Hungary (1288 ...

Charles I
tried to import this principle into Scotland and England. Charles I's attempt to enforce
episcopal polity An episcopal polity is a Hierarchy, hierarchical form of Ecclesiastical polity, church governance ("ecclesiastical polity") in which the chief local authorities are called bishops. (The word "bishop" derives, via the British Latin and Vulgar ...
on the
Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland (CoS; sco, The Scots Kirk; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba), also known by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is the national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis ...

Church of Scotland
led to rebellion by the
Covenanter Covenanters ( gd, Cùmhnantaich) were members of a 17th-century Kingdom of Scotland, Scottish religious and political movement, who supported a Presbyterian polity, Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and the primacy of its leaders in religious af ...
s and the
Bishops' Wars The 1639 and 1640 Bishops' Wars were the first of the conflicts known collectively as the 1638 to 1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms, which took place in Kingdom of Scotland, Scotland, Kingdom of England, England and Kingdom of Ireland, Ireland. ...
, then fears that Charles I was attempting to establish absolutist government along European lines was a major cause of the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of Kingdom of England, England's governance and issues of re ...
, despite the fact that he did rule this way for 11 years starting in 1629, after dissolving the
Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who u ...
for a time. By the 19th century, divine right was regarded as an obsolete theory in most countries in the
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
, except in Russia where it was still given credence as the official justification for the Tsar's power until
February Revolution The February Revolution ( rus, Февра́льская револю́ция, p=fʲɪvˈralʲskəjə rʲɪvɐˈlʲutsɨjə, tr. ), known in Soviet historiography Soviet historiography is the methodology of history History (from Greek , ' ...
in 1917. There is a considerable variety of opinion by historians on the extent of absolutism among European monarchs. Some, such as
Perry Anderson Francis Rory Peregrine "Perry" Anderson (born September 1938) is a British intellectual and essayist. His work ranges across historical sociology, intellectual history, cultural analysis. What unites Anderson's work is a preoccupation with W ...
, 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. 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 Rhetoric () is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and ...
of monarchs and the realities of the effective use of power by these absolute monarchs. Renaissance historian William Bouwsma summed up this contradiction: In the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
, many sultans wielded absolute power through heavenly mandates reflected in their title, the "Shadow of God on Earth".


Denmark–Norway

Absolutism was underpinned by a written constitution for the first time in Europe in 1665 da, Kongeloven, lit=
King's Law The King's Law () or ''Lex Regia'' () (also called the Danish Royal Law of 1665) was the Absolute monarchy, absolutist constitution of Denmark–Norway, Denmark and Norway from 1665 until Constitution of Denmark, 1849 and Constitution of Norway, 1 ...
, label=none of
Denmark–Norway Denmark–Norway (Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestr ...
, which ordered that the Monarch This law consequently authorized the king to abolish all other centers of power. Most important was the abolition of the
Council of the Realm The Council of the Realm ( es, Consejo del Reino) was a corporate organ of Francoist Spain, created by the Law of Succession to the Headship of the State of 1947. Within the institutional complex created to jezequize the regime of Francisco Franco ...
in Denmark. Absolute monarchy lasted until
1814 in Norway Events in the year 1814 in Norway. Incumbents *List of Norwegian monarchs, Monarch: Frederick VI of Denmark, Frederick VI then Christian Frederick then Charles XIII of Sweden, Charles II Overview 1814 has historically been considered the most i ...
, and 1848 in Denmark.


Habsburgs


Hungary


France

Though some historians doubt it,
Louis XIV of France Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the of any monarch of a sovereign country in ...

Louis XIV of France
(1638–1715) is often said to have proclaimed french: L'état, c'est moi!, lit=I am the State!, label=none. Although often criticized for his extravagances, such as the
Palace of Versailles The Palace of Versailles ( ; french: Château de Versailles ) is a former royal residence located in Versailles, about west of Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, mo ...

Palace of Versailles
, he reigned over France for a long period, and some historians consider him a successful absolute monarch. More recently, revisionist historians have questioned whether Louis' reign should be considered 'absolute', given the reality of the balance of power between the monarch and the nobility, as well as parliaments. 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.


Prussia

In
Brandenburg-Prussia Brandenburg-Prussia (german: Brandenburg-Preußen; ) is the historiographic Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians wh ...

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 The Thirty Years' War was a conflict fought largely within the Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Europe, Weste ...
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 s. 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. 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
Junker Junker ( da, Junker, german: Junker, nl, Jonkheer, en, Yunker, no, Junker, sv, Junker ka, იუნკერი (Iunkeri)) is a noble honorific An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when us ...
s (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 Königsberg (, , ) was the name for the historic Prussian city that is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Originally a Sambian or Old Prussians, Old Prussian settlement, it then belonged to the State of the Teutonic Order, the Duchy of Prussia, the Kin ...

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.


Russia

Until 1905, the
Tsar Tsar ( or ), also spelled ''czar'', ''tzar'', or ''csar'', is a Royal and noble ranks, title used to designate Orthodox Slavs, East and South Slavic monarchs. In this last capacity it lends its name to a system of government, tsarist autocra ...

Tsar
s and
Emperors An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the he ...
of
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
governed as absolute monarchs.
Ivan the Terrible Ivan IV Vasilyevich (russian: Ива́н Васильевич; 25 August 1530 – ), commonly known in English language, English as Ivan the Terrible (from , Romanization of Russian, romanized: , Literal translation, lit. "Ivan the Formidable" ...
was known for his reign of terror through
oprichnina shows the execution of the conspirator I. P. Fedorov (right) after a mock coronation. The oprichnina (russian: опри́чнина, ) was a state policy implemented by Tsar Ivan the Terrible Ivan IV Vasilyevich ( rus, Ива́н Васи́ ...
. reduced the power of the
Russian nobility #REDIRECT Russian nobility The Russian nobility (russian: дворянство ''dvoryanstvo'') originated in the 14th century. In 1914 it consisted of approximately 1,900,000 members (about 1.1% of the population). Up until the February Revolut ...
and strengthened the central power of the monarch, establishing a bureaucracy and a
police state A police state describes a state where its government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government n ...
. This tradition of absolutism, known as
Tsarist autocracy Tsarist autocracy (russian: царское самодержавие, transcr. ''tsarskoye samoderzhaviye''), also called Tsarism, was a form of autocracy Autocracy is a system of government in which absolute power over a state is concentrat ...
, was expanded by
Catherine II the Great russian: Екатерина Алексеевна Романова, translit=Yekaterina Alekseyevna Romanova en, Catherine Alexeievna Romanova, link=yes , house = , father = Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst , mother ...

Catherine II the Great
and her descendants. Although 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 The Russian Constitution of 1906 refers to a major revision of the 1832 Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North Americ ...
still described the monarch as an autocrat. Russia became the last
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
an country (excluding
Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vatica ...

Vatican City
) to abolish absolutism, and it was the only one to do so as late as the 20th century (the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
drafted its first constitution in 1876).


Sweden

The form of government instituted in
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
under King
Charles XI Charles XI or Carl ( sv, Karl XI; ) was List of Swedish monarchs, King of Sweden from 1660 until his death, in a period of History of Sweden, Swedish history known as the Swedish Empire (1611–1721). He was the only son of King Charles X Gusta ...

Charles XI
and passed on to his son,
Charles XII Charles XII, sometimes Carl XII ( sv, Karl XII) or Carolus Rex (17 June 1682 – 30 November 1718 O.S.), was the King of Sweden The monarchy of Sweden concerns the monarchical head of state of Sweden,See the #IOG, Instrument of Government ...
is commonly referred to as absolute monarchy; however, the Swedish monarch was never absolute in the sense that he wielded
arbitrary power Autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power over a state is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps fo ...
. The monarch still ruled under the law and could only legislate in agreement with the
Riksdag of the Estates Riksdag of the Estates (formally sv, Riksens ständer; informally sv, Ståndsriksdagen) was the name used for the Estates of Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a ...
; rather, the absolutism introduced was the monarch's ability to run the government unfettered by the
privy council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
, 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 The Great Northern War (1700–1721) was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia The Tsardom of Russia or Tsardom of Rus' (russian: Русское царство, ''Russkoye tsarstvo''; later changed to: , ''Rossiyskoy ...

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 In Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the ...
. After half a century of largely unrestricted parliamentary rule proved just as ruinous, King
Gustav III Gustav III (29 March 1792), also called ''Gustavus III'', was from 1771 until his assassination in 1792. He was the eldest son of and Queen . Gustav was a vocal opponent of what he saw as the abuse of political privileges seized by the since ...

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 ActThe Union and Security Act ( sv, Förenings- och säkerhetsakten, fi, Yhdistys- ja vakuuskirja), alternatively Act of Union and Security, was proposed by king Gustav III of Sweden to the assembled Estates of the Realm during the Riksdag The Ri ...
in 1789, which, in turn, was rendered void in 1809 when
Gustav IV Adolf Gustav IV Adolf or ''Gustav IV Adolph'' (1 November 1778 – 7 February 1837) was King of Sweden The monarchy of Sweden concerns the monarchical head of state of Sweden,See the #IOG, Instrument of Government, Chapter 1, Article 5. which is a co ...

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

Many nations formerly with absolute monarchies, such as
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia. It is entirely a part of the Greater Middle East. It in ...

Jordan
,
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...

Kuwait
and
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
, have moved towards
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
, although in these cases the monarch still retains tremendous power, to the point that the parliament's influence on political life is negligible. In
Bhutan Bhutan (; dz, འབྲུག་ཡུལ་, Druk Yul, ), officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan ( dz, འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་, Druk Gyal Khap), is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It is bordered by Chin ...

Bhutan
, the government moved from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy following planned parliamentary elections to the
Tshogdu The Tshogdu (Dzongkha Dzongkha (, ) is a Sino-Tibetan languages, Sino-Tibetan language spoken by over half a million people in Bhutan; it is the sole official and national language of the Bhutan, Kingdom of Bhutan. The Tibetan script is used to ...
in 2003, and the election of a National Assembly in 2008.
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
had several swings between constitutional rule and direct rule related to the
Nepalese Civil War The Nepalese Civil War was a protracted armed conflict that took place in Nepal between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Government of Nepal from 1996 to 2006. The rebellion was launche ...
, the
Maoist insurgency Maoism, or Mao Zedong Thought (), is a variety of Marxism–Leninism Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology and the main communist movement throughout the 20th century.Lansford, Thomas (2007). ''Communism''. New York: Cavendish Squar ...
, and the 2001
Nepalese royal massacre The Nepalese royal massacre occurred on 1 June 2001, at the Narayanhiti Palace, the then-residence of the Nepalese monarchy. Nine members of the royal family, including Birendra of Nepal, King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya of Nepal, Queen Aishwar ...
, with the
Nepalese monarchy The King of Nepal (traditionally known as the Mahārājdhirāja i.e. Great King of Kings; it can also be translated as "Sovereign Emperor" ( ne, श्री ५ महाराजधिराज)) was Kingdom of Nepal, Nepal's head of state and ...
being abolished on 28 May 2008. In
Tonga Tonga (, ), officially named the Kingdom of Tonga ( to, Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), is a Polynesia Polynesia (, ; from grc, πολύς "many" and grc, νῆσος "island") ( to, Faka-Polinisia; mi, Porinihia; haw, Polenekia; ...

Tonga
, the
King King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...
had majority control of the
Legislative Assembly Legislative assembly is the name given in some countries to either a legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of ...
until 2010.
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein ( ; ), officially the Principality of Liechtenstein (german: link=no, Fürstentum Liechtenstein), is a German-speaking The German language (, ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europ ...

Liechtenstein
has moved towards expanding the power of the monarch: the
Prince of Liechtenstein The prince regnant of Liechtenstein (german: Fürst von Liechtenstein) is the monarch and head of state of Liechtenstein.Principality of Liechtenstein Family - Die fürstliche Familie (in German) The House of Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein famil ...
was given expanded powers after a
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number th ...
amending the
Constitution of Liechtenstein The Constitution of Liechtenstein was Promulgation, promulgated on 5 October 1921, replacing the 1862 Constitution of Liechtenstein, 1862 constitution. It was granted by Johann II, Prince of Liechtenstein, and established the rule of partial parli ...
in 2003, which led the BBC to describe the prince as an "absolute monarch again". The ruling Kim family of
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Yalu (Amnok) and Tu ...

North Korea
(
Kim Il-sung , relatives = Kim family , residence = Pyongyang, North Korea , profession = Politician , allegiance = , branch = Red Army The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army,) frequently short ...

Kim Il-sung
,
Kim Jong-il Kim Jong-il (; ; ; born Yuri Irsenovich Kim (russian: Юрий Ирсенович Ким); 16 February 1941 – 17 December 2011) was a North Korean politician who was the second List of leaders of North Korea, supreme leader of North Korea fro ...

Kim Jong-il
and
Kim Jong-un Kim Jong-un (; ; ; born 8 January 1982 or 1983) is a North Korean politician who has been Supreme Leader of North Korea The supreme leader () of North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) ...

Kim Jong-un
) has been described as a ''de facto'' absolute monarchy or "hereditary dictatorship". In 2013, Clause 2 of Article 10 of the new edited Ten Fundamental Principles of the
Korean Workers' Party The Workers' Party of Korea (Abbreviation, abbr. WPK; ) is the founding and ruling party, ruling political party of North Korea. It is the largest party represented in the Supreme People's Assembly and coexists ''de jure'' with two other legal ...
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


''De jure''


''De facto''


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
is an absolute monarchy, and according to the
Basic Law of Saudi Arabia The Basic Law of Saudi Arabia (alternative name: Basic System of Governance; ar, النظام الأساسي للحكم, ') is a constitution-like charter divided into nine chapters, consisting of 83 articles. The Basic Law (in Article One) state ...
adopted by Royal Decree in 1992, the King must comply with
Shari'a Sharia (, ar, ), Islamic law, or Sharia law, is a religious law forming part of the Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the '' ...
(Islamic law) and the
Qur'an The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be a revelation in Islam, revelation from God in Islam, God (''Allah''). It is widely rega ...

Qur'an
. The Qur'an and the body of the
Sunnah In Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' is pronounced , or (when the stress is on the first ...
(traditions of the Islamic
prophet In religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involu ...
,
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
) are declared to be the Kingdom's Constitution, but no written modern constitution has ever been promulgated for Saudi Arabia, which remains the only Arab nation where no national elections have ever taken place since its founding. No political parties or national elections are permitted and according to ''
The Economist ''The Economist'' is an international weekly newspaper A weekly newspaper is a general-news or current affairsCurrent affairs may refer to: Media * Current Affairs (magazine), ''Current Affairs'' (magazine), a bimonthly magazine of cult ...
's'' 2010
Democracy Index The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is the research and analysis division of Economist Group providing forecasting and advisory services through research and analys ...

Democracy Index
, the Saudi government is the eighth most authoritarian regime from among the 167 countries rated.


Scholarship

Anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, ...
,
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
, and
ethology Ethology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is ...
as well as various other disciplines such as
political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as ...
attempt to explain the rise of absolute monarchy ranging from extrapolation generally, to certain Marxist explanations in terms of the
class struggle Class conflict, also referred to as class struggle and class warfare, is the political tension and economic antagonism that exists in society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, socia ...
as the underlying dynamic of human historical development generally and absolute monarchy in particular. In the 17th century, French legal theorist
Jean Domat Jean Domat, or Daumat (30 November 162514 March 1696) was a French jurist A jurist is a person with expert knowledge of law; someone who analyses and comments on law. This person is usually a specialist legal scholarnot necessarily with a fo ...
defended the concept of absolute monarchy in works such as ''"On Social Order and Absolute Monarchy"'', citing absolute monarchy as preserving natural
order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or waste, and the habit of achieving a ...
as
God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Ted Honderich, Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxfo ...

God
intended. Other intellectual figures who have supported absolute monarchy include
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; sometimes known as Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) was an , considered to be one of the founders of modern . Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book ', in which he expounds an influential form ...
and
Charles Maurras Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras (; ; 20 April 1868 – 16 November 1952) was a French author, politician, poet, and critic. He was an organizer and principal philosopher of ''Action Française'', a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parl ...

Charles Maurras
.


See also


References


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 * ——. '' Lord and Peasant in Russia from the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century''. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951. * 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 {{DEFAULTSORT:Absolute Monarchy Monarchy Political theories