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Monarchical Form Of Government An Overview


Plato as advocated the rule of philosopher kings (in his Republic) for the existence of an ideal state. Kingship or monarchy is the form of government in which the supreme authority rests in the hands of a single person. The views of Aristotle was that monarchy was the rule of one person for the good of the people , but the perverted from the monarchy is tyranny which was the rule of one person for his selfish ends. Jellinik defines,monarchy as a state in which sovereignty rested in a single person.

Monarchy is the oldest form of government known to mankind .It was the most suitable to the primitive society where the people were not capable governing themselves. The source of political authority was the ruler .All laws were his commands. His authority was supreme and unlimited.

The Monarch combined in himself the functions of the law maker, the executive , the judiciary and the military authority. At first, monarch was elective and later it become a hereditary institution .The early roman kings were elected .The medieval kings were called gods or ‘son of Heaven’ as in Japan .At present all the existing monarchies are hereditary .The king comes in to office through the principles of primogeniture and holds office for life. Monarchies are classified in to absolute, limited, hereditary and elective monarchies.

Absolute monarchy:

An absolute monarchy is one in which the monarch is the real head of the state. He exercises his powers at will. His word is law. Louis XIV of France used to proclaim, “I am the state.” The Czars of Russia ,the kings of Prussia, the Ottaman Emperors ,Mughals of India are instance of absolute monarchies have suffered a great eclipse.

Limited Monarch or Titular Monarchy

A limited monarchy is one which the powers of the monarch are limited by the constitution, written or unwritten either or initiative of the king himself or undue duress .Most of the absolute monarchies has gradually transferred into limited monarchies. Britain, Norway and Sweden are good examples of limited monarchy. All the surviving monarchies of Europe, Asia and Africa fall in this category.

One of the chief merits of limited monarchy is that secures continuity in the executive head of government. The main defect is that hereditary principals are not a sound basis for the selection of the head of an executive. As a matter of fact, in modern limited monarchies, the monarch as a ruler has only nominal powers.

The utility of limited monarchy is:

  1. A parliamentary democracy cannot function without a nominal head. A hereditary limited monarch is above personal and party prejudices, thus serves this purpose very well.
  2. The impartial limited monarchy is south advice in all important matters. In England he has right to work, right to encourage and right to consulted
  3. The limited monarchy in Britain is the symbol of the common wealth unity. He plays a magic link for the chain of a commonwealth countries ,and helps in promoting good will.
  4. Monarch is considered as the head of the nation and as the head of society .He is symbol of continuity of cultural advancement as in the UK.

Hereditary monarchy
The kingship of this king is governed according to the principle of primogeniture .The eldest male heir succeeds after the demise of the king .England has the hereditary monarchy where the succession is decided through the succession Act.

Elective monarchy

Elective monarchy existed in the past .The early Roman Emperors and monarchs of Poland used to be elected .During the middle ages also elected monarchies were the monarchies were quite popular.

Merits of Absolute Monarchy:
  1. The primitive man was barbaric. He could be brought to discipline only by a strong man at the helm of affairs.
  2. It is considered as the best form of government by Aristotle and it continued till the end of the 17th Centaury.
  3. It is known for its simplicity of organization and the unity of command.
  4. As absolute monarchy is not to face the adverse, it is a stable form of government.
  5. The state government under absolute monarchy can have a consistent and continuous home and foreign policy.
  6. During the absolute monarchy, countries made rapid progress and exhibited all round prosperity .kings being livers of art and architecture constructed a number of art monuments like in Mughal rule in India.
  7. It is claimed that the absolute monarchy can stand for social justice since they have not to appease anybody for their continuity in power.
  8. The absolute monarchy can utilize the services of talented people and hold the talented artists, scholars and literature to high esteem.
About monarchy garner says, No better from could be devised for disciplining uncivilized people, leading them out of barbarism and inculcating in them habits of obedience.

Defects of absolute monarchy
  1. Even the best rule of the absolute monarchy cannot be termed as good government.
  2. War of succession, indifference to public welfare, squandering of public money for personal pleasures and patronage were the basic traits associated with absolute monarchy.
  3. History recorded that the number of good kings is much smaller than the incompetent rulers who brought misery to the people.
  4. There is no guarantee that an able and benevolent monarch must always succeed to the throne.
  5. Absolute monarchy generally been turns to tyranny.
  6. Monarch has generally been expansionists .They would otherwise like people to keep attention diverted to frivolous pursuits and hazardous ventures.
Monarchy is a political system which is very well known and it is associated with countries like the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and many more. There is also a different type of classification of this political system in which monarchy can be absolute or constitutional.

Written by: Ritika Gupta

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