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Monarchy facts and history

Monarchy is a system of government under which a country is governed by one ruler, usually for his or her lifetime. Until the late 1700s, most countries were governed by monarchs. Monarchs had titles such as emperor, king, prince, sultan or tsar. In some countries monarchs were elected. Today many countries of the world are republics. Most countries that are not republics are constitutional monarchies, where the real power is held by elected governments and where the monarch is head of state but not head of the government.

Monarchy facts - Louis XIV Monarchy facts - Catherine the Great

Monarchy facts and history

Louis XIV of France, the 'Sun King', the longest reigning monarch in European history, ruled from 1643 to 1715

Empress Catherine the Great of Russia

Monarchs usually inherited their titles and thrones from their fathers or other royal relatives. In some countries, women could inherit thrones to become empresses, queens or tsarinas. In other countries women monarchs were not allowed. When women monarchs have come to the throne, they have often been very forceful rulers, such as Cleopatra of Egypt, Queen Elizabeth I of England or Empress Catherine the Great of Russia.

In earliest times, monarchs were military leaders and usually the most powerful fighters. For example, most of the kings mentioned in the Bible relied on their ability as generals to keep their position as kings. The same was true in Ancient Greece. Alexander the Great of Macedonia was a brilliant general, and at the end of his reign his empire stretched from Greece to India. Many early kings were regarded as priests or holy men. The pharaohs of Egypt were even thought to be living gods. Later, the Greek and Roman kings and emperors were sometimes worshipped as gods. In the Middle Ages, in Europe, people thought that kings were chosen by God, and the kings were crowned and blessed by bishops. Many thought that these kings had special power to heal the sick. There was even a disease (scrofula) called 'King's Evil'. It was thought that a sick person could only be cured of this illness if the king touched him.

Monarchy facts: in England in the 1700s, King Charles I believed that he ruled by divine right - that is, he thought that God had appointed him king and that he was responsible only to God for his actions. The English parliament did not accept this idea. They accused Charles of being an absolutist monarch, who wanted complete power for himself. In 1648, after a civil war, Parliament had Charles executed.

From the late 1700s, people began to attack the idea of monarchies. In 1775, thirteen colonies in America broke away from Britain and its monarch George III. The United States did not choose a king; instead, it became the first modern republic. In 1789, the French Revolution (See Revolutionary War for kids) resulted in the fall of the French King Louis XVI and his execution. Many European monarchies collapsed as a result of World War I (1914-18) and World War II (1939-45). Many nations no longer wanted monarchies, and replaced them with republics. Republics were regarded as more democratic than monarchies, as presidents were usually elected.

Dates when some important monarchies collapsed as fact:

1792 After the Revolution, of 1789, France set up its first republic

1889 Monarchy came to an end in Brazil

1911 China ceased to be a monarchy

1917 Russian revolutionaries overthrew the Tsar

1918 The German and Austro-Hungarian monarchies collapsed at the end of World War I

1946 Following World War II, Italy became a republic.

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