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Reply with quote  #1 

Allow me to play the Devil’s Advocate here.

 

What constitutes a monarchy? When can a head of state be called a monarch? What separates an autocratic dictator from an absolute monarch? Is it theoretically possible for someone to declare themselves a monarch?

 

Regarding the latter question I present as an example Jean-Bédel Bokassa. In 1966 he became President of the Central African Republic in a coup d’état. In 1976 he dissolved the republican government and proclaimed himself Bokassa I, Emperor of Central Africa, a title he held until he was overthrown by the French government in 1979 and the republic restored.

neofeudalist

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Reply with quote  #2 
In contemporary modern usage, a monarch is one that has his/her place as Head of State by virtue of birthright.

Also, a monarch can be one that was originally elected by a council of Elders or Nobles.

Culture also has a lot to do with it.  Not all monarchs are autocrats or despots, therefore not dictators.  Many monarchs cannot govern without the aristocracy and the population at large.


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Reply with quote  #3 

In a way it's retrospective. If the monstrous Bokassa had reigned for a lengthier time and passed his throne on, then his heir had passed his throne on, why then he would have been a monarch. As it was, he was an extremely bad joke. The CAE was acknowledged at the time though, I was working for the Post Office and can remember pasting the supplied strip saying Central African Empire over Central African Republic in our copy of the Post Office Guide, a tome dealing with all kinds of matters it was thought needful for postal clerks to know.



Reply with quote  #4 

Quote:
Originally Posted by neofeudalist
In contemporary modern usage, a monarch is one that has his/her place as Head of State by virtue of birthright.

Also, a monarch can be one that was originally elected by a council of Elders or Nobles.

Culture also has a lot to do with it.  Not all monarchs are autocrats or despots, therefore not dictators.  Many monarchs cannot govern without the aristocracy and the population at large.

Not all monarchs gain their thrones by birthright through. The Holy Roman Emperor was, in theory at least, elected. The Byzantine Emperors were routinely overthrown, killed and even mutilated, replaced by ambitious generals and sometimes mere commoners acclaimed monarch by the mobs of Constantinople. A more modern example would be Reza Pahlavi, a Persian army commander who helped overthrow the Qajar dynasty and made himself Shahanshah in 1925. The Pahlavis were then considered the legitimate monarchs of the Persian/Iranian Empire until Mohammed Pahlavi was deposed in 1979 and the Iranian Republic declared.



Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter

In a way it's retrospective. If the monstrous Bokassa had reigned for a lengthier time and passed his throne on, then his heir had passed his throne on, why then he would have been a monarch. As it was, he was an extremely bad joke. The CAE was acknowledged at the time though, I was working for the Post Office and can remember pasting the supplied strip saying Central African Empire over Central African Republic in our copy of the Post Office Guide, a tome dealing with all kinds of matters it was thought needful for postal clerks to know.

So a monarchy is only real if the throne is passed on? What about Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico? He founded the monarchy with the support of Emperor Napoleon III of France, but his reign lasted only three years until he was overthrown and executed, and yet history remembers him as a legitimate monarch.

Or is it that a monarchy is only legitimate if it is recognized by the international community?

EDIT:

Or if it is recognization that makes one a true monarch, does that mean that Joshua A. Norton really was Emperor of the United States? The San Francisco community seems to have played along- police officers saluted him as he passed, restaurants and businesses competed for his patronage, he was given a private box in the theatre, his own currency was accepted locally, and upon his death a gentleman's club contributed the money for a lavish funeral attended by over 30,000 people. His gravestone reads "Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico".



Reply with quote  #6 

As I said, in a way. Maximilian was probably rather helped out by being a member of an ancient dynasty and the brother of the Emperor of Austria, in terms of historical recognition, it sadly didn't help him when it came to being judicially murdered. There's long been an unofficial principle that if a usurping dynasty has been in place for a reasonable length of time without being challenged, say 100 years, why then it is no longer usurping. Does that mean the original usurper was actually a legitimate monarch? Um... he will usually appear in the history books as a monarch anyway.



Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter

As I said, in a way. Maximilian was probably rather helped out by being a member of an ancient dynasty and the brother of the Emperor of Austria, in terms of historical recognition, it sadly didn't help him when it came to being judicially murdered. There's long been an unofficial principle that if a usurping dynasty has been in place for a reasonable length of time without being challenged, say 100 years, why then it is no longer usurping. Does that mean the original usurper was actually a legitimate monarch? Um... he will usually appear in the history books as a monarch anyway.


Interesting. Thanks for the info.

Does anyone else have differing opinions?
Ethiomonarchist

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Reply with quote  #8 
What of King Zog of the Albanians?  He is the one and only King of that country, and never managed to pass his throne on to his heir. 

Bokassa was a madman, but there have been other mad monarchs before...

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethiomonarchist
What of King Zog of the Albanians?  He is the one and only King of that country, and never managed to pass his throne on to his heir. 

Bokassa was a madman, but there have been other mad monarchs before...

Madman or not, could Bokassa be considered a real emperor? I mean to say, in theory, is it possible for a head of state to proclaim himself, or be proclaimed by the government, a monarch and be recognized as such during his lifetime?

King Zog is another good example.
Ethiomonarchist

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Reply with quote  #10 

One could ask the same about Napoleon.  Was the First French Empire a real monarchy or merely a military dictatorship?


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Ethiopia stretches her hands unto God (Quote from Psalm 68 which served as the Imperial Motto of the Ethiopian Empire)

"God and history shall remember your judgment." (Quote from Emperor Haile Selassie I's speech to the League of Nations to plead for assistance against the Italian Invasion, 1936.)


Reply with quote  #11 

I know one of those Oceanic groups of islands has a federated monarchy with all of the kings electing the king every term or something...

BaronVonServers

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Reply with quote  #12 
Monarchy, to me implies the right of succession being established by law (elective, or hereditary doesn't matter as much as it is 'in the usual course'), limited to a small number of potential claimants, and operating within traditional boundaries (which vary by culture).

CAE wouldn't be a Monarchy.
French Empire might.
Vatican City is.


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Reply with quote  #13 
As I've been suggesting, it is a matter of credibility, and so to some extent of opinion. I would say the Central African Empire lacked credibility, which is not to say that if Bokassa had been a different and better man it might not have eventually have gained it.

In view of the length and transformative effects of Napoleon's rule, the extent of his conquests, and his military and administrative genius, it is difficult not to recognise him as Emperor. He also had a dynastic successor who ruled for a considerable length of time. His heirs have married over and over into established families, so clearly are acknowledged by them as royal. None of which is to say that I am an admirer of Napoleon, I think he was a tyrant who brought untold woe to Europe, but there is no point in denying the historical facts.

The little Albanian kingdom I would also tend to recognise. It lasted for a reasonable period and was overthrown by foreign intervention, not from within. If not for Communism King Zog might well have returned. He maintained his claim in exile, as his son Leka did after him. The family have now returned, and in fact the present Crown Prince, another Leka, is a member of the Albanian government, without having surrendered any claim. In a referendum on the monarchy it got one-third support, which isn't bad after all those years and might grow.

It's all a question of circumstances and how things develop. As neofeudalist is fond of pointing out, every monarchy was founded by someone who wasn't a monarch to begin with.

I don't know the islands to which you refer, Blayne, but Malaysia has such a system, the various local rulers periodically electing a King of Malaysia who serves for a limited term.


Reply with quote  #14 
A few more thoughts on the Napoleon question; not only his own family but families merely associated with him have been recognised as royal, and spread their blood through the more ancient families in a way the Bonaparte family itself has not (Bonaparte heirs have tended to marry Princesses, but their daughters have not on the whole married Princes). Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen married the daughter of a French innkeeper. Since her surname was Murat, being the niece of Napoleon's famous Marshal, the alliance was so far from being rejected that her descendants include the King of the Belgians and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg among reigning Sovereigns, and King Michael I of Romania, Crown Prince Alexander II of Serbia, Victor Emmanuel of Italy and Grand Duke George of Russia among claimants and heirs to same.

The Beauharnais were lower-tier French aristocrats. Thanks to their association with and in some cases descent from Josephine, their descendants include all of the above except Grand Duke George plus the Kings of Sweden and Norway, the Queen of Denmark and Crown Prince Paul of Greece.

The Bernadottes were minor gentry at best in French Navarre. They reign in Sweden and the King of the Belgians, the King of Norway, the Queen of Denmark, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Crown Prince Paul of Greece all have their blood.

It is difficult to see in these circumstances how royalty can be denied to the Bonapartes themselves. I would also point out, in the context of this thread, that the Karageorgevitches are of humble and comparatively recent origins, but no one doubts their royalty.
royalcello

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Reply with quote  #15 
Peter, I see your point, but I think a distinction can be made in that the Bernadottes and the Karageorgevitchi are not displacing or trying to displace older, traditional dynasties that are still around.  As you are no doubt aware, King Gustav V married the "legitimist" heiress to the Swedish throne, Princess Victoria of Baden, assuring that their son Gustaf VI Adolf would reign by hereditary right and not only as a consequence of Napoleonic upheavals.  Serbia did not have a traditional royal family in the first place.  So the Bernadottes are the only royalty Sweden has, and the Karageorgevitchi are the only royalty Serbia has (the equally humble-originating Obrenovitchi having been rather brutally eliminated in 1903).  France, in contrast, still has two (rival) representatives of the traditional Capetian line, and has had at least one such representative throughout the era in which the Bonaparte family has been prominent.  Therefore, it is not necessarily inconsistent to accept King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Prince Alexander while dismissing the Bonapartes as usurpers.

Now, an alternative scenario: suppose that Napoleon III's revival of the Bonaparte empire had been successful and endured up to the present, and suppose further that subsequent Bonaparte rulers had chosen to emphasize continuity with France's pre-Revolutionary monarchy (as, for example, the Pahlavi shahs emphasized continuity with ancient Persia), perhaps at some point even changing their title to "King."  After 150 years of continuous Bonaparte rule, especially with the senior Bourbon line having died out in 1883, would it be appropriate to insist that the "rightful" ruler of France was someone else?  I don't think so.  I think in that case it would be appropriate to accept the Bonapartes as France's "Fourth Dynasty" (after Merovingians, Carolingians, and Capetians).  But obviously, this did not happen, and most French royalists quite logically support one of the two Capetian claimants, so I see no need to take today's Bonapartes particularly seriously.

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