Universal monarchy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

A Universal Monarchy is a concept and a political situation where one monarchy is deemed to have either sole rule over everywhere (or at least the predominant part of a geopolitical area or areas) or to have a special supremacy over all other states (or at least all the states in a geopolitical area or areas).

Concept[edit]

Universal Monarchy is differentiated from ordinary monarchy in that a Universal Monarchy is beholden to no other state and asserts a degree of total sovereignty over an area, or predominance over other states.

The concept has arisen in Europe and Asia. The concept is linked to that of Empire, but implies more than simply possessing imperium.

The Latin phrase Dominus Mundi, Lord of the World, encapsulates the concept. Though in practice no Universal Monarchy ever held rule over the whole world, it may have appeared to many people, particularly pre-modern, that it did.

Critical of the concept in Europe in the Middle Ages were philosophers such as Nicole Oresme[1] and Erasmus;[2] whereas Dante and Guillaume Postel[3] were more favourable. Later, Protestants would seek to reject the concept, identifying it with Catholicism.[4]

History[edit]

Europe[edit]

In Europe the expression of a Universal Monarchy as actual total imperium can be seen in the Roman Empire, and as the predominate ‘sole sovereign’ state during its Byzantine period, where the Emperor by virtue of being the head of Christendom claimed a sovereignty over all other kings even though in practice this could not be enforced. The Byzantine conception went through two phases, initially as expounded by Eusebius that just as there was one God so there could only be one Emperor,[5] which developed in the 10th century into the conception of the Emperor as the paterfamilias of a family of kings who were the other rulers in the world.[6] Such concepts were a feature of the Ottoman Empire successor state, particularly when military rule was augmented by the Caliphate.

The idea of a sole sovereign Emperor would re-emerge in the West with Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire.[7] The idea of the Holy Roman Empire possessing a special sovereignty as a Universal Monarchy was respected by the surrounding powers and subject states, even when that Empire had undergone severe fragmentation.[8] The symbolism of the A.E.I.O.U. phrase of Frederick III can be seen as an expression of the idea of all states being subject to one monarchy.

Charles V’s empire, encompassing much of western Europe and the Americas “was the nearest the post-classical world would come to seeing a truly world-wide monarchy, and hence the closest approximation to universal imperium” since the Roman Empire.[9] It was envisaged by its supporters as world empire that could be religiously inclusive.[10]

Subsequently, the idea of a Universal Monarchy based on predominance rather than actual total rule would become synonymous with France attempting to establish hegemony over western Europe, particularly under Louis XIV,[11] exemplified by the concept of Louis XIV as the 'Sun King' around which all the other monarchs became subordinate satellites.

Universal Monarchy would flourish at either end of Europe, in Britain and Russia. The Russian Universal Monarchy was Orthodox, autocratic and possessed a vast contiguous empire throughout Europe and Asia and can be seen to have similarities and differences with Byzantine rule.[12] The British Universal Monarchy was “Protestant, commercial, maritime and free”[13] and was not composed of contiguous territory. It had both similarities and difference with the Spanish empire. Whereas Catholicism provided ideological unity for the Spanish empire, British Protestant diversity would lead to “disunity rather than unity”.[14] It was only later that federalism and economic control was seen as a means to provide unity where religious diversity could not, as with the idea of Imperial Federation as promoted by Joseph Chamberlain.

Napoleon came close to creating something akin to a Universal Monarchy with his continental system and Napoleonic Code, but he failed to conquer all of Europe. The last attempt to create a European Universal Monarchy was that attempted by Imperial Germany in the Great War. If Germany had been victorious the German Kaiser would have been suzerain over most of Europe.[15][16]

Asia[edit]

A parallel process occurred in Asia. Whereas in the West the title of Emperor had by the 19th century largely been stripped of religious connotations and had come to be seen purely in political terms, the title in eastern Asia is almost entirely a religious one, commonly stated as ‘the son of heaven’. Here the title denotes a higher, ‘heavenly’ rule (‘celestial empire’), in contrast to kings who rule between heaven and earth, and by extension today to presidents who are mere base earthly rulers. Imperial China was a Universal Monarchy where all other monarchs were regarded as tributary. The concept was taken up by the Mongols,[17][18] who under Genghis Khan were able to enforce this concept more widely than China. The Japanese attempt to unify South East Asia in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere under Emperor Hirohito follows the model set by Imperial Germany and Joseph Chamberlain of imperial rule based on economic union, matched with Japanese religious ideas.

The Hindu/Buddhist concept of the Chakravartin is a perfect illustration of the ideal of a Universal Monarch.[19][20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mastnak, Tomaž Crusading peace: Christendom, the Muslim world, and Western political order University of California Press (2002) p329
  2. ^ Persson, Hans-Åke & Stråth, Bo Reflections on Europe: defining a political order in time and space Peter Lang (2007) pp51-52
  3. ^ Kuntz, Marion Leathers Guillaume Postel, prophet of the restitution of all things: his life and thought Springer (1981) p171
  4. ^ Simms, Brendan & Riotte, Torsten (Editors) The Hanoverian dimension in British History, 1714-1837 Cambridge University Press (2007) pp168-169
  5. ^ Nicol, D.M. Byzantine political thought in Burns, J. H. The Cambridge history of medieval political thought c. 350-c. 1450 Cambridge University Press 1988 pp52-53
  6. ^ Nicol, D.M. Byzantine political thought in Burns, J. H. The Cambridge history of medieval political thought c. 350-c. 1450 Cambridge University Press 1988 p57
  7. ^ Bryce, James The Holy Roman Empire p209
  8. ^ Brissaud, Jean A History of French Public Law John Murray (1915) p77
  9. ^ Armitage, David The Ideological Origins of the British Empire Cambridge University Press (2000) p32
  10. ^ Ocker, Christopher, Printy ,Michael & Starenko, Peter (Editors) Politics and Reformations: Communities, Politics, Nations, and Empires Brill Academic Publishers (2007), 495.
  11. ^ Simms, Brendan & Riotte, Torsten (Editors)The Hanoverian dimension in British History, 1714-1837 Cambridge University Press (2007) p168
  12. ^ Gavrov, Sergey [1]Modernization of the Empire. Social and Cultural Aspects of Modernization Processes in Russia URSS (2004) p50
  13. ^ see Armitage, David The Ideological Origins of the British Empire Cambridge University Press (2000)
  14. ^ Armitage, David The Ideological Origins of the British Empire Cambridge University Press (2000) p66
  15. ^ Fischer, Fritz. Germany's Aims in the First World War. (1967)
  16. ^ Niall, Ferguson, Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals (1999).
  17. ^ Marshall, RobertStorm from the East: from Ghengis Khan to Khubilai Khan University of California Press (1993)p156
  18. ^ Sicker, Martin The Islamic world in ascendancy: from the Arab conquests to the siege of Vienna Greenwood Press (2000)p p107
  19. ^ Bhandarkar, D.R. Lectures on the Ancient History of India from 650-325 B.C. University of Calcutta (1919) pp85-86
  20. ^ Beér, RobertThe encyclopedia of Tibetan symbols and motifs Serindia Publications 2nd Revised edition(2004) pp160-161