Monarchy - History

History

Tribal kingship is often connected to sacral functions, so that the king acts as a priest, or is considered of Divine ancestry. The sacral function of kingship was transformed into the notion of "Divine right of kings" in the Christian Middle Ages, while the Chinese, Japanese and Nepalese monarchs continued to be considered living Gods into the modern period.

The system of monarchy since antiquity has contrasted with forms of democracy, where executive power is wielded by assemblies of free citizens. In antiquity, monarchies were abolished in favour of such assemblies in Ancient Rome (Roman Republic, 509 BC), Ancient Athens (Athenian democracy, 500 BC).

In Germanic antiquity, kingship was primarily a sacral function, and the king 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 overthrow of the English monarchy by the Parliament of England in 1649, followed by the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1792. Much of 19th century politics was characterized by the 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 or World War II. Advocacy of republics is called republicanism, while advocacy of monarchies is called monarchism.

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