Abdication is the act of formally relinquishing monarchical authority;
To give up leadership.
2 Western classical antiquity
3 British and Commonwealth history
4 Japanese history
6 See also
8 External links
Tomb effigy of heart of King
John II Casimir Vasa
John II Casimir Vasa at Abbaye de
Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, showing removal of the crown
The word abdication derives from the
Latin abdicatio meaning to disown
or renounce (from ab, away from, and dicare, to dedicate or
relinquish). In its broadest sense abdication is the act of renouncing
and resigning from any formal office, but it is applied especially to
the supreme office of state. In
Roman law the term was also applied to
the disowning of a family member, such as the disinheriting of a son.
Today the term commonly applies to monarchs, or to those who have been
formally crowned. An elected or appointed official is said to resign
rather than to abdicate. A notable exception is the voluntary
relinquishing of the office of Bishop of
Rome (and thus Sovereign of
Vatican City State) by the Pope, called
Papal resignation or Papal
Western classical antiquity
Among the most notable abdications of antiquity are those of Lucius
Cornelius Sulla, the Dictator, in 79 BC; Emperor
Diocletian in AD 305;
Romulus Augustulus in AD 476.
British and Commonwealth history
Perhaps the most notable abdication in recent history is that of King
Edward VIII of the
United Kingdom and the Dominions. In 1936 Edward
abdicated to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson, over the
objections of the British establishment, the governments of the
Commonwealth, the Royal Family and the Church of England. It was the
first time in history that the British or English crown was
surrendered entirely voluntarily. Richard II of England, for example,
was forced to abdicate after power was seized by his cousin, Henry
Bolingbroke, while Richard was abroad.
Glorious Revolution in 1688,
James II of England
James II of England and VII of
Scotland fled to France, dropping the
Great Seal of the Realm
Great Seal of the Realm into the
Thames, and the question was discussed in Parliament whether he had
forfeited the throne or had abdicated. The latter designation was
agreed upon in spite of James's protest, and in a full assembly of the
Lords and Commons it was resolved "that King James II having
endeavoured to subvert the constitution of the kingdom, by breaking
the original contract between king and people, and, by the advice of
Jesuits and other wicked persons, having violated the fundamental
laws, and having withdrawn himself out of this kingdom, has abdicated
the government, and that the throne is thereby vacant." The Scottish
parliament pronounced a decree of forfeiture and deposition.
In Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scots, was forced to abdicate in favour of
her one-year-old son, James VI.
Today, because the title to the Crown depends upon statute,
particularly the Act of Settlement 1701, a royal abdication can be
effected only by an Act of Parliament; under the terms of the Statute
of Westminster 1931, such an act must be agreed by the parliaments of
all extant signatories of the Statute. To give legal effect to the
abdication of King Edward VIII, His Majesty's Declaration of
Abdication Act 1936 was passed.
In Japanese history, abdication was used very often, and in fact
occurred more often than death on the throne. In those days, most
executive authority resided in the hands of regents (see Sesshō and
Kampaku), and the Emperor's chief task was priestly, containing so
many repetitive rituals that it was deemed the incumbent Emperor
deserved pampered retirement as an honored retired emperor after a
service of around ten years. A tradition developed that an Emperor
should accede to the throne relatively young. The high-priestly duties
were deemed possible for a walking child; and a dynast who had passed
his toddler years was regarded as suitable and old enough; reaching
the age of legal majority was not a requirement. Thus, many Japanese
Emperors have acceded as children, some only 6 or 8 years old.
Childhood apparently helped the monarch to endure tedious duties and
to tolerate subjugation to political power-brokers, as well as
sometimes to cloak the truly powerful members of the imperial dynasty.
Almost all Japanese empresses and dozens of Emperors abdicated and
lived the rest of their lives in pampered retirement, wielding
influence behind the scenes, often with more power than they had had
while on the throne (see Cloistered rule). Several Emperors abdicated
while still in their teens. These traditions show in Japanese
folklore, theater, literature and other forms of culture, where the
Emperor is usually described or depicted as an adolescent.
Before the Meiji Restoration, Japan had eleven reigning empresses.
Although there were eight reigning empresses, their successors were
most often selected from amongst the males of the paternal Imperial
bloodline. Over half of Japanese empresses abdicated once a suitable
male descendant was considered to be old enough to rule.
Meiji Restoration and the subsequent reorganization of
imperial succession, no Emperor has abdicated and all have died on the
throne. There is also no provision for abdication in the Imperial
Household Law, the Meiji Constitution, or the current 1947
Constitution of Japan.
After the defeat of Japan in World War II, many members of the
Imperial Family, such as Princes Chichibu, Takamatsu and Higashikuni,
pressured then Emperor
Hirohito to abdicate so that one of the Princes
could serve as regent until Crown Prince
Akihito came of age. On
February 27, 1946, the Emperor's youngest brother, Prince Mikasa
(Takahito), even stood up in the privy council and indirectly urged
the Emperor to step down and accept responsibility for Japan's defeat.
Douglas MacArthur insisted that Emperor
on the throne. MacArthur saw the Emperor as a symbol of the continuity
and cohesion of the Japanese people.
On 13 July 2016, national broadcaster
NHK reported that the Emperor
intended to abdicate in favor of his eldest son Crown Prince Naruhito
within a few years, citing his age; an abdication within the Imperial
Family has not occurred since
Emperor Kōkaku abdicated in 1817.
However, senior officials within the
Imperial Household Agency
Imperial Household Agency have
denied that there is any official plan for the monarch to abdicate. A
potential abdication by the Emperor would require an amendment to the
Imperial Household Law, which currently has no provisions for such a
move. On 8 August 2016, the Emperor gave a rare televised
address, where he emphasized his advanced age and declining health;
this address is interpreted as an implication of his intention to
abdicate. On 1 December 2017, Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe announced
Akihito will step down on 30 April 2019. The announcement
came after a meeting of the Imperial Household Council.
Main article: List of monarchs who have abdicated
To move to
Rome and serve the Pope, Queen Christina of Sweden
Protestant champion Gustav II Adolph of Sweden) abdicated
and shocked Europe
In certain cultures, the abdication of a monarch was seen as a
profound and shocking abandonment of royal duty. As a result,
abdications usually only occurred in the most extreme circumstances of
political turmoil or violence. In the
United Kingdom and the
Commonwealth realms it is still seen in a particularly grave light,
due to the abdication crisis of Edward VIII.
Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi, Sharif of Mecca abdicated the Kingdom of
Hejaz in October 1924.
In recent decades, the monarchs or leaders of the Netherlands,
Belgium, Luxembourg, the
Vatican City state, Qatar, Cambodia, and
Bhutan have abdicated as a result of old age. In the Netherlands, the
last three monarchs Wilhelmina, Juliana, and Beatrix have all
abdicated. In all three instances, this was done to pass the throne to
the heir sooner.
In June 2014, King Juan Carlos of
Spain announced his intent to
abdicate in favor of his son, Felipe. Felipe took the throne as
King Felipe VI on June 19.
Lists of incumbents
List of monarchs who lost their thrones in the 20th and 21st centuries
^ Bix 2000, pp. 571–573.
^ "天皇陛下 「生前退位」の意向示される ("His Majesty
The Emperor Indicates His Intention to 'Abdicate'")" (in Japanese).
NHK. 13 July 2016. Archived from the original on 13 July 2016.
Retrieved 13 July 2016.
^ "Japanese Emperor
Akihito 'wishes to abdicate'". BBC News. 13 July
2016. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
^ "Message from His Majesty The Emperor". The Imperial Household
Agency. 8 August 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
^ "Japan's Emperor
Akihito hints at wish to abdicate". BBC News. 8
August 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
^ "Japan's Emperor
Akihito to abdicate in April 2019". BBC News. 1
December 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
^ "King of
Spain to Abdicate for Son, Prince Felipe". VOA News. June
2, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
^ "Spain's King Attends Last Parade Before Abdication". Time Magazine.
Associated Press. June 8, 2014. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
Bix, Herbert P. (2000).
Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. New
York: Harper and Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-019314-0.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public
domain: The New Century Book of Facts. Springfield, Massachusetts:
King-Richardson Company. 1911.
Look up abdication in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Abdications.
Texts on Wikisource:
"Abdication". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.
"Abdication". Catholic Encyclopedia. 1913.
"Abdication". Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.
Napoleon Bonaparte, Speech of Abdication
Napoleon's Proclamation to the French People on His Second Abdication
Wilhelm II of Germany, Statement of Abdication
Abdication of King
Edward VIII of England
O. Henry, “The Higher Abdication”