Portal:Monarchy

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The Monarchy Portal

Richard I of England being anointed during his coronation in Westminster Abbey, from a 13th-century chronicle.

A monarchy is a form of government in which a legal person, the monarch, holds sovereign authority until death or abdication. The governing power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic (crowned republic), to partial and restricted (constitutional monarchy), to fully autocratic (absolute monarchy).

There are elective monarchies, or as in most cases, hereditary monarchies. In hereditary monarchies, the royal family or members of the dynasty usually serve in official capacities as well. Aristocracy, despite often part of monarchies, does not inherently mean monarchic rule, class and not lifetime is its ruling oligarchic principle (e.g. maritime or aristocratic republic [de]).

Monarchs can carry a range of titles which signal differences in authority, often multiple at a time, from king, queen, emperor, khan, caliph, tsar, sultan, to descriptions that are not exclusive to monarchs protector, autocrat, dictator, despot or tyrant.

Feudalism, which depends very much on titles as signifiers of authority, was a reacurring structure of monarchies in history, but is not a necessary structure for a monarchy. Feudal monarchies have not been the structure of contemporary monarchies or otherwise strong components of their monarchic history. Though contemporarily monarchies have been national countries, historically monarchic polities must not be understood through the logic of the nation state, since their territory and political legitimation are not necessarily understandable with a concept of nation, as for example feudal or even today in personal union monarchies are not bound to national consistancy.

A monarchy may be bound to territories and/or peoples, as in Emperor of Japan or King of Belgians. Territorially a monarchy can be a polity in personal union, unitary or federation.

Strictly speaking is the republic the opposing form of government to a monarchy, though there have been infringements of this core principle of republics, legitimating lifetime and/or hereditary rule. Presidents are often the republican counterpiece to monarchs as heads of state.

Monarchy was the most common form of government until the 20th century. Forty-five sovereign nations in the world have monarchs acting as heads of state, sixteen of which are Commonwealth realms that recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. Most modern monarchs are constitutional monarchs, who retain a unique legal and ceremonial role, but exercise limited or no political power under the nation's constitution. In some nations, however, such as Brunei, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Eswatini, the hereditary monarch has more political influence than any other single source of authority in the nation, either by tradition or by a constitutional mandate.

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Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (18 June 1901 – 17 July 1918) was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. She was murdered with her family by members of the Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police. The location of her burial was unknown during the decades of Communist rule, and rumors that she had escaped circulated after her death. A mass grave near Yekaterinburg which held the remains of the Tsar, his wife, and three of their daughters was revealed in 1991, and the bodies of the remaining daughter and the Tsarevitch Alexei were discovered in 2007. Forensic analysis and DNA testing have confirmed that the remains are those of the imperial family, showing that Anastasia and the other grand duchesses were killed in 1918. Several women have claimed to be Anastasia, including Anna Anderson, who died in 1984, but DNA testing in 1994 showed that she was not related to the Romanov family.


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Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling
Credit: Holger Motzkau

The royal wedding between Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and Daniel Westling took place on 19 June 2010 in Stockholm Cathedral. Westling—now known as Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland—became the first commoner to obtain a new title or rank as the spouse of a Swedish princess since the Middle Ages. He is the first Swedish man to use his wife's ducal title.

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Charles III of Spain
Credit: Anton Raphael Mengs

Charles III (1716–1788) was king of Spain from 1759 to 1788. As king, he implemented far-reaching reforms, such as weakening the Catholic Church and its monasteries, promoting science and university research, facilitating trade and commerce, modernizing agriculture and avoiding wars. However, he never achieved satisfactory control over finances, and his reforms proved short-lived.

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Coat of arms of the Gediminids dynasty
The House of Gediminas were the siblings, children, and grandchildren of Gediminas, Grand Duke of Lithuania (ca. 1275–1341). The Gediminid dynasty ruled the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from ca. 1285 or 1316 to 1572, eventually extending its territories from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Gediminas' origins are unclear, but recent research suggests that Skalmantas, an otherwise unknown historical figure, was Gediminas' grandfather or father, and could be considered the dynasty's founder. Because none of his brothers or sisters had known heirs, Gediminas, who sired at least twelve children, had the advantage in establishing sovereignty over his siblings. Known for his diplomatic skills, Gediminas arranged his children's marriages to suit the goals of his foreign policy: his sons consolidated Lithuanian power within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, while his daughters established or strengthened alliances with the rulers of areas in modern-day Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. Gediminas' many grandchildren and their descendants engaged in power struggles that continued well into the 15th century. Gediminas' grandchildren converted Lithuania to Christianity and inaugurated the first personal union with Poland. The dynasty came to an end in 1572, when Sigismund II Augustus died without producing a male heir.


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Marie Antoinette, Queen of France
Courage! I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it at the moment when my sufferings are to end?
Marie Antoinette, Responding to the priest who had accompanied her to the foot of the guillotine, who had whispered, "This is the moment, Madame, to arm yourself with courage."

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Featured articles: Áedán mac Gabráin · · Æthelbald of Mercia · Æthelberht of Kent · Æthelred of Mercia · Aldfrith of Northumbria · Bhumibol Adulyadej · Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia · · Anne of Denmark · Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom · · · · Augustus · · · Cædwalla of Wessex · Ceawlin of Wessex · (...more)

Featured lists: List of French monarchs · List of Portuguese monarchs · List of Sultans of Zanzibar

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