Sunday, June 27, 2010

When France Was Francia and Capetians Were Robertians (Capet, Part I)

A deep revelation came to me a week ago and this note is the result: The Capetians cannot be done in a single post. Indeed, they cannot be done in two nor three. I am dedicating this last post of June as well as the majority of July to the most wide-ranging dynasty in Europe even today: the Capetians. Otherwise, I honestly wouldn't do them the dynastic justice they deserve. That being said, most of you are wondering right now: "What the heck is a Capetian?" Or perhaps, "Why are these blokes so important?" And so I shall move on.

The Capetians are by far the oldest continually-reigning dynasty in Europe. Throughout their lifespan they have ruled France, Spain, Portugal, Navarre, Luxembourg, Burgundy, Jerusalem, Poland, and other countries. If you spread the family out from its actual founders, even Austria is considered a family heirloom. That is because unlike most other dynasties, Salic Law ensured their continuation rather than destroyed the dynasty. The kings procreated until they had a few sons, or at least tried to, and then nourished cadet lines rather than neglected them. It was a perfect system that had many flaws, but survives to this day.
The Frankish Realms of Gaul, c. 850

The dynasty has its ancient roots in Austrasia, the realm of the Eastern Franks centered on the Abbey of Lorsch near Worms, Germany. From there the family divided between the eastern branch, which became known as the Popponids (after their founder, Poppo) and then the Babenbergs (although there is no proven connection between the two), and the western branch which became known as the Robertians. The eastern branch stayed in Germany and Burgundy and eventually became the early dukes of Austria. Due to the speculative nature of their connection to the Capetians, they will not be discussed further in this series of notes. The Robertians migrated westward into France when the Carolingians took control and established themselves around the county of Paris.

The Robertians achieved an early claim-to-fame when one of their members married Emperor Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne. The family then fell into relative obscurity until dynastic troubles in the Frankish Empire presented them with an opportunity to excel. Robert the Strong was the first notable member of the western branch and the true founder of the western Robertian dynasty. Robert was placed in charge of a region of France roughly equivalent to the whole of modern-day northern France (north of Aquitaine). He was placed there to help defeat the Viking menace that had been slowly taking control of Normandy. Through rebellions, threats, and blackmail, Robert managed to eke out a segment of France and Burgundy for himself and his posterity. Robert was eventually killed by the very Bretons whom he had supported during his rebellious years. His sons would carry on his business.
Robert I, king of the West Franks (922-923)
Eudes, his eldest son, succeeded him as count of Anjou. He was made count of Paris in the early 880s and Marquis of Neustria in 886. When Charles the Fat was removed from office in 888, the Frankish nobility elected Eudes to replace him, foregoing for the first time a member of the Carolingian dynasty. Between fighting the Normans and his rivals, who supported the Carolingian candidate to the throne, he had a tough reign. While he was able to bolster the Reconquest of Spain, he fell out of favor with the Eastern Frankish King and was eventually defeated and died in 898. The Western Frankish Empire returned to a Carolingian until Eudes' upstart brother, Robert, attempted to take the throne in 922. Robert was count of Paris and had succeeded his brother in his hereditary titles, Eudes having no legal heirs of his own. Robert established himself well with the Frankish nobility and, when the Carolingian king had disappointed the nobility in 922, Robert convinced them to run the king out of town. Robert took up the crown and ruled for all of one year. His opponent, Charles the Simple, built up an army and marched back into Gaul, killing Robert in battle. Unlike his brother, at least, Robert had some children who were able to press on the struggle against the Carolingian dynasty.
Raoul, king of the West Franks (923 – 936)
In an odd, although characteristic, event in 923, Charles the Simple was defeated by the army of the fallen Robert. Charles' cousin, Herbert II of Vermandois (who was one of Robert's sons-in-law), imprisoned the Frankish king and Robert's other son-in-law, Rudolph (or Raoul), succeeded him in West Francia with the support of the populous. While Raoul isn't technically a member of the Robertians , his claim and support all came from the family and supporters of them. Raoul reversed on Herbert after Charles' death and, with the support of another Robertian named Hugh the Great, waged war until Herbert submitted in 935. Raoul died the following year. Hugh the Great was Robert's son and, while he never became king, acted as de Facto king of West Francia during the twilight years of the Carolingian dynasty. Hugh fought and feuded with his Carolingian overlords even as he supported and reinforced them. Hugh managed to obtain vast tracts of land through various means, solidifying the Robertian claim to the throne after the last Carolingians death.

His son, Hugh Capet, would become the first official Capetian and helped transition the dynasty from the Dark Ages into the High Middle Ages. After his father died, Hugh Capet allied himself with the Holy Roman Empire to help control the politics of the realm. While he accepted the Carolingian, Lothair, as king he was himself the de Facto ruler of France. When Lothair died in 987 and his son, Louis V the Child, later that year, Hugh convinced the Archbishop of Reims to crown Hugh king in spite of surviving members of the Carolingian dynasty. Although he did this in order to legitimize his military authority against the Moors in Spain, it closely mirrors the coronation of Pepin the Short two centuries earlier which brought the Carolingians to the Frankish throne. The story of Hugh, and that of his immediate descendants, is the topic of next week's note.

Monday, June 21, 2010

One of the Elect (Types of Monarchies)

Up until this point, I've mostly discussed the matter of dynasties in the context of hereditary successions. However, many dynasties survived because important people were either in love with the family or scared of it. Indeed, the status quo is hard to change but history is filled with monarchies that were based on an elected monarch rather than a hereditary one. While the most well known elective monarchies are probably those of the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy, there are literally dozens that have popped in and out of history in the last 6,000 years. Indeed, one could argue that most monarchies are based on elections even if the voters have little choice. Let's discuss this further...

One of the most ancient and famous elective monarchies is that of Rome. Not the Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire or even the Holy Roman Empire (all of which were elective in nature, however) but the Kingdom of Rome. Dating back to 753 BCE, the kingdom lasted for about 250 years before the nobility decided they'd rather have a republic. The first king was the founder and conqueror of Rome, Romulus, a figure clearly not elected. Now let's not get confused, pretty much every king was royalty in some form or another, but the principle is the same. The history of the Kingdom of Rome is rather vague and convoluted as it was written during later times, but it seems the king was more the president of the Senate than a true sovereign. When the king died, the Senate chose a replacement during an interregnum ("time between monarchs"). In Rome, it seems the Senate truly had a choice in the next monarch. Matters were different in later Roman periods...

The Roman Empire, founded by proclamation by Augustus Caesar in 27 BCE, became a rather haphazard form of elective monarchy. While many dynasties rose and fell during the Roman Empire, most were at their core elective in nature since no true form of hereditary monarchy was ever established. The least elective period of the Roman Empire was the first 100 years, when the descendants and close relatives of Augustus and Tiberius ruled until Nero's death in 68 CE. Even so, all of the monarchs except Augustus were assassinated (a form of early impeachment, if you will) and Claudius was proclaimed emperor by the Praetorian Guard (a guard unit in charge of the emperor). From that point onward, virtually every Roman emperor sought to establish a dynasty despite prohibitions against such actions, and most of those emperors died an early, unnatural death. The primary way of becoming emperor was not through approval of the Senate (the people), although that was necessary to legitimize the election, but through the usurpation and occupation of other words, a candidate would take an army and blackmail the Senate into being elected emperor. The only exception was when the Senate already approved and/or supported the election of a close family member of the previous emperor.
The Roman Senate
Diocletian, emperor from 284 until 305, began the change in the Roman Empire that would continue all the way until 1453. He set the precedent (although others had used it before) to choose a successor before the reigning emperor died. In fact, it became such a successful system that most emperors had a co-emperor or designated successor years or even decades before they died. The Senate would approve the selection and have many years to get used to the successor. Unfortunately, this new organizational structure missed its chance in the west as the western empire fell apart completely by 480 CE. In the east, with the Byzantine Empire, the patterns and trends of succession continued through an extremely loose system of quasi-royal families marrying into other quasi-royal families to find successors to the Byzantine throne. The system broke apart at times, but it remained relatively efficient.
The College of Holy Roman Prince-Electors
In the west, the Roman Empire disappeared completely and was replaced with the Kingdom of the Franks and the Visigoths in Gaul (France & Germany) and Spain respectively. Neither of these kingdoms was very elective in nature but the Franks eventually achieved prestige in 800 CE under the guise of Charles the Great. Charles restored the Western Roman Empire and began the long process of organizing western Europe into actual viable states. His empire was crude and not all that elective since the Roman Senate was rather unimportant in the grand scope of things by this period, but it lasted until 924. In 962, the first of the Holy Roman Emperors was elected by the Pope (rather than the Roman Senate) and the entire process started over. Over the course of the next four hundred years, the German monarchy became increasingly elective in nature and the Golden Bull of 1356 finally solidified the electoral nature of the Holy Roman Empire. It stated that there would be three ecclesiastic and three secular electors who would be in charge of the empire, while a fourth secular and outside elector, the King of Bohemia, would vote in elections for emperor. Thus the electors shifted from the legal citizens of the state (as represented by the Senate) to the Pope (representing western Christendom) to seven monarchs (representing the larger states and bishoprics of Germany). This system worked until 1806 when Napoleon dissolved the empire, although the House of Habsburg had managed to pretty much control the elections since 1415. Thus the Holy Roman Empire, while elective in nature, became a hereditary monarchy in most senses of the term.

Now, let's move past Rome (and Germany) to other European elective monarchies. Ireland was one of the most mysterious of the ancient monarchies and it also was elective. In fact, due to the clan culture of both Ireland and Scotland (both the Picts and the Scots), the king was chosen from among the eldest members of the clan rather than through hereditary descent. Granted, the clan in a sense was a dynasty since the clan was all related, but the kingship was still elective by nature. Even the High King (Ard Rí) of Ireland was elected by the regional kings.
An Anglo-Saxon King and his Witenagemot
Another well known country once had an elective monarchy: England! Alright, so technically it was a system more like Ireland and Scotland. The Angles, Saxons and Jutes all created kingdoms when they invaded Britain in the 500s. At its height, Britain had 7 official kings and dynasties within the borders of modern-day England. Those kings would elect from among themselves in the Witenagemot (an early Parliament of nobles and kings) a Bretwalda (High King) who would lead England against invaders such as the Danes, Norse, ethnic Britons and Picts. The position was elective and non-dynastic and, in fact, never became dynastic until the House of Wessex unified Britain, thereby ending the need for the position.
The Election of 1573, Poland-Lithuania
Perhaps the most contentious of European elective monarchies, however, was that of Poland. When the last Piast monarch died in 1370, the nobles decided to make the title elective. At first, a small council decided the next monarch, but over time the entire szlachta (nobility) was made allowed to vote. From 1569 until 1795, the kings of Poland and Grand Dukes of Lithuania were elected by a crowd outside Warsaw. Up to 500,000 people could vote in these elections, making them the largest monarchic election in Europe. Unfortunately, elections in Poland-Lithuania were often manipulated by powerful European neighbors such as Russia, Austria and Prussia, resulting in sub-par candidates and rulers, especially in the last century of the kingdom's existence.
The College of Cardinals with the Pope presiding

Before we move away from Europe, we cannot forget the only surviving elective monarchy in Europe: the papacy. The papacy was traditionally established in the first century CE by Saint Peter the Apostle. For the first millennium or so the Pope was elected through popular acclamation (people shouting, basically) but a system eventually formed whereby a group known as cardinals, high leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, meet in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City (Rome) and select the next leader, usually from among themselves. It has been one of the most efficient systems of election for years and, since the cardinals represent various Catholic populations from around the world, it has become very democratic, although the cardinals are not elected by their representative populations.

Outside of Europe, there have also been some elective monarchies of note. One discussed just three weeks ago was that of the Great Khanate of the Mongols. The Mongol khans elected from among themselves the Great Khan (Khagan) which was elective, although it was also hereditary after the reign of Kublai Khan. The Mali Empire of Africa was elective in nature but often stuck to select dynasties that had ancient claims to the title. The Kingdom of Kongo was also elective and very rarely had two successive kings from the same family.

As is clear, elective monarchies have appeared and disappeared throughout history and, although few exist today, they have played an important part in modern-day politics. A more recent trend has been to elect the first monarch of a country in the hope that they may begin a stable dynasty. The dynasties of Norway, Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania all began by having either the people directly or the national parliament select a monarch from European royal families to act as their monarch. While all these monarchies except Norway no longer have a monarch, they all have active monarchist movements suggesting that their elected dynasties established some semblance of national pride in the people.

One interesting side-note to this discussion is Alexander Hamilton's 1787 attempt to install a national elective monarchy in the United States. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Hamilton argued in a passionate speech that the United States should have an elective monarch rather than a president. The monarch would rule for life unless impeached and have many more powers than the president that resulted. He later relented and defended the four-year term of the president but never gave up his hope that a president should rule for life.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dōmo Arigatō, House of Yamato (Japan)

The people have spoken and the winner for the week is the Imperial House of Japan, or more formally, the House of Yamato. Honestly, I wasn't very surprised by the choice and I had been holding back on it. Much like the House of Capet, the family is ancient in its origins and it still rules today. What is most interesting, however, is how the Imperial House has changed in the last 150 years and the last 60. All will be discussed below.

One last point I have never really made clear: while European royal houses make it policy to marry into other royal houses (not always European), Far Eastern royal houses generally stick to the nobility of that country, especially in Japan, with only a few sparse marriages between dynasties in China, Korea, Mongolia (the Great Khanate), and Vietnam. Japan has only one recorded royal marriage outside of Japan, and that was to the Korean royal family and it was within the last 50 years. Back to the Yamato dynasty...
Emperor Jimmu
The Empire of Japan, an ancient state built up over nearly three millenia of imperial and Shinto politics. That's correct, while Europe's oldest dynasties barely date back to before 1,000 CE, Japan traditionally dates the beginning of its current reigning dynasty to 660 BCE. Emperor Jimmu, a descendant of the sun god himself, founded the dynasty 2670 years ago according to ancient legend. And while there is no historical evidence of his or the successive fourteen reigns, the Japanese emperors have based their dynasty on Jimmu and his clan and genealogical evidence is considered fairly solid from at least 270 CE.

Japan dates many of its eras via transitions in the dynasty, like in France, and so with the last legendary ruler, Empress Jingü, we begin the proto-historical era of rulers with Emperor Ōjin. While his dates are certainly later creations, his reign is historically attested in ancient manuscripts. The era of proto-historical rulers continued to 539 CE when solidly historic, but still traditionally dated, rulers continued the family dynasty. No fewer than six empresses reigned during these centuries, a feat never accomplished by contemporary dynasties in Asia or Europe.

Japan had one major dynastic civil war which lasted from 1331 until 1392. Basically, the dynasty split in two, with one court ruling in Kyoto (north) and the other in Yoshino (south). The rift occurred in the previous century when Emperor Go-Saga formulated a plan to alternate the imperial succession between the lines of his two sons. The plan proved unworkable and within a few decades, the family was fighting for the throne. This dispute was not helped at all by the shoguns.

A shogun is the modern equivalent to a dictator of sorts...kind of a Francisco Franco or Mussolini kind of fellow. Mind you, the position is similar, not necessarily the attitude. During various times in Japanese history, especially from 1192 until 1867, shoguns were the actual rulers of Japan. They were military leaders in various hereditary lines that claimed their power from the emperor and ruled Japan in the emperor's name. In a rather bad comparison, they were the Holy Roman Emperor to the Pope (the HRE was a military leader and implementer while the Pope basically said what to do without much force). Anyway, back to the story...
The Northern and Southern Courts of Japan

In 1333, Emperor Go-Daigo staged a power-play called the Kemmu Restoration. He wanted the power of state to return to the royal family. The shogun responded by placing his cousin on the Japanese throne, attempting to depose the upstart Go-Daigo. The feud lasted for nearly 60 years until the legitimate Southern Emperor abdicated in favor of the Northern Emperor. Thus, the Northern Emperor became the emperor of Japan, although it was still ruled by the shogun. Descendants of the senior line still live to this date and after World War II, one even claimed the Japanese throne, claiming the junior ruling line were pretenders...his demands were not met but he wasn't arrested since his point was, in fact, true according to Japanese archivists and historians.

The imperial house continued in relative protection and obscurity for the successive centuries until anti-shogun politics and the arrival of a strange American commodore changed everything. Japan had isolated itself early on in the Age of Discovery, restricting trade to the remote outlying peninsula of the port of Nagasaki (yes, THAT Nagasaki). Since the 1600s, only the Dutch had been allowed to trade at all on Japanese waters and the court had quite isolated itself from any non-Japanese influence. Then a brash American named Matthew Perry sailed his ship right into the port of the Edo in 1854 and the shogunate agreed to open Japan up to American trade. The Emperor Komei and the nobility responded with an uprising that continued into the reign of the next emperor, Meiji. Meiji defeated the shogunate for the first time in centuries and established a new constitutional monarchy with himself as its head. The constitution stated that the shogunate was stripped of all its powers and that the "Emperor is the head of the Empire [and] has the supreme command of the Army and the Navy."

The Japanese Empire was born and with it came rapid industrialization and imperialism. Meiji opened Japan's borders to more foreign countries and began to spread the empire out to neighboring islands. He moved the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo and established Japan as a player on the international stage. His son, Taisho, continued to spread out, especially during World War I when Japan joined the allied powers. Taisho, though, was frail and lacked the charisma of his father and nearly destroyed the progress made by Meiji. It took a second world war to complete that destruction.

Emperor Hirohito, or technically Showa since he is now deceased, brought Japan to its largest imperial height and also destroyed it and the emperorship. Hirohito was the longest reigning historical Japanese emperor and he began that reign in 1926. Hirohito oversaw the rapid industrialization and expansion of Japan in the 1930s. In 1931, he invaded Manchuria (northern China) and placed the deposed Chinese emperor as a puppet on the Manchurian throne. Six years later, in 1937, he invaded China proper and began the Second Sino-Japanese War, which would turn into the western front of World War II in 1939. His low point was the dismissal of international law regarding captured prisoners in the summer of 1937, a move that would be remembered by American prisoners of war in World War II. In 1939, Japan joined Germany and Italy to form the Axis Powers.
The Empire of Japan

The Allied Powers for the most part ignored Japan, just as the United States did, until December 8th when Japan attacked Malaysia and Hawaii on the same day (Dec. 7th in Hawaiian time). The Allies, namely Great Britain and the Netherlands, joined the United States in declaring war against the Japanese Empire. Jump four years later, to August 12, 1945: Japan had experienced a total reversal of fortunes in the war and Tokyo itself was threatened by nuclear attack. On August 15, 1945, Japan unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Powers and the Meiji Restoration, begun in 1868, ended soon after. While Hirohito was personally responsible for much of the war, he was pardoned by the U.S. government since his loyalty was more important than his punishment. The Japanese, under the direction of U.S. General MacArthur, wrote a new constitution based on the American model, placing a prime minister as the supreme executive of the state and removing all sovereign roles from the emperor. The emperor, in effect, became a powerless celebrity. He spent the remainder of his life building up Japanese influence in the world and conducting diplomacy.
Emperor Akihito
Many scholars today do not consider Japan's emperor a true monarch since he is no longer head-of-state. While that may be true, the lineage of the emperor is without question one of royalty, sovereignty, and power. The current emperor, who ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne from Hirohito in 1989 is Akihito. He has a son and daughters and the line is secured for at least a few more generations. And while the power of the monarch is now non-existent, the history of the Japanese monarchy, spanning 125 monarchs and 3670 years, is certainly one of the most interesting histories in the world.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monarchies Among Us (Monarchies Today)

After last week's brief departure into the Far and Middle Eastern Chingizid dynasty, we return today to the end of our study of dynastic periods. Dynasties reached their zenith in the high Middle Ages, maintained that height until the 1700s, and then began a long crash that has lasted to this day. There are a grand total of twenty-six dynastic monarchies in the world today when only a hundred years ago there were many hundred monarchies still in existence. Their fall was sudden, decisive, and expected when viewed in hindsight.
Map of Current Monarchies, c. 2008
World War I began the last real turn for dynasties. By the 1950s, much of the monarchical world appeared as it does today. There are still no real rules for which countries retain monarchies, except that North and South America lack any hereditary monarchies aside from ones in the British Commonwealth (discussed later). Each country has retained its monarchy for different reasons and through different means, but the result has been roughly the same: all hereditary monarchies except three are constitutional in nature and the monarch serves more a titular than an actual role.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman

The Middle East has probably the highest concentration of monarchs. Oddly, many are in place because of western support or even because a western power installed the king. Iraq lost its installed monarch in the late 1950s while Persia/Iran's monarch was deposed in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia all have a king, shiekh or sultan. The Arabian Peninsula was always ruled by the Ottoman sultan but was able to unify following the Ottoman Empire's demise in the 1920s. The smaller states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar were all hereditary states prior to World War I and have since become constitutional with the exception of Oman. They retain their monarchs in reduced, albeit not entirely titular, roles for reasons of national solidarity. The Emirate of Transjordan was created by the western powers in the 1920s out of Palestine and the eastern side of the Jordan River. In 1946 it was granted its independence and the state selected for its king the ruler of the former British mandate, King Abdullah I. Abdullah's brother was elected the king of Iraq soon after but was killed by Saddam Hussein's predecessor in a coup.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco

Africa retains a number of local monarchies, but there are only three monarchs who rule entire countries. Lesotho, Morocco and Swaziland constitute those three monarchies and of them, only Swaziland's is absolute. Swaziland and Lesotho were for much of their histories British protectorates incorporated into South Africa. Both became independent in the 1960s and were able to remain separate from South Africa (which surrounds them). Their monarchs, while largely titular (more so in Lesotho), are major rallying symbols for national propaganda and help maintain conservative values in the region. Morocco has retained a monarchy since the Umayyad caliphate left the region around 900 AD. Despite the region's long and varied history, its Berber peoples look upon their king as a figurehead for their famed past and sign of hope for the future.
King Norodom of Cambodia
Asia and Oceana have the second largest concentration of the world's monarchies and it is largely because they were able to avoid direct European conquest in the previous centuries, retaining their monarchs while becoming vassals of European imperialists. Brunei, Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia, Samoa, Thailand, and Tonga all still have monarchs and all have become constitutional in the past sixty years. Japan was heavily pressured to remove its monarch after World War II but was able to keep him in exchange for adopting a constitution written much in the same way as the United States'. Brunei, Samoa, and Tonga are all so small that, when they were released from European control in the 1960s (which was only nominal at best anyway) they went straight back to their traditional rulers while using European-style governments. Thailand (Siam) was never completely controlled by a European power and never truly lost its monarchy. Malaysia was often subjected to control by its neighbors, namely Thailand/Siam and Indonesia, but Britain in the 1880s accepted the king of Malaysia as a formal monarch and his family has been the recognized national dynasty ever since. Lastly, Cambodia was for much of its history a vassal of Thailand and continued to be even as the French controlled Siamese politics. France slowly separated the two regions but continued to control the Cambodian dynasty until its eventual withdraw from the region in the 1950s. The monarchy fell apart in the 1970s during the Vietnam War and was only restored in 1993 under the former monarch. It has since continued as a constitutional monarchy.
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
The largest concentration of monarchies today lies in Europe and its medieval dynasties. A grand total of ten monarchies exist in Europe and there are monarchist movements in many former monarchical states. In total, Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom all retain monarchs. All of them are constitutional and serve mostly titular functions (as required by the European Union constitution). Many of the current monarchies are linked as well. Denmark and Norway derive from the same family (Oldenburg) and were for most of their histories linked until a referendum in Norway declared the state's independence from Denmark. With Sweden, the three Scandinavian states maintain their monarchs because of their rich histories and for purposes of national unity. Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg are also related, all being part of the Benelux Low Countries region of Europe. Up until 1830, the three countries constituted the United Netherlands, but Belgium rebelled and chose a new monarch and Luxembourg soon after was inherited through a different line due to different succession laws. They also retain their monarchs for nationalist purposes and to unite otherwise heterogeneous regions. Liechtenstein and Monaco are some of the micro states of Europe and largely exist because their monarchies still exist. Were Monaco ever to lose its monarchy, it would become a part of France (part of an agreement made with Napoleon). Liechtenstein is a small remainder of the once-great Holy Roman Empire and has just managed to thrive since its dissolution in 1806. Spain went through a period of forty years without a monarch while under the regime of Francisco Franco, but upon Franco's death, the monarchy was restored, albeit with many constitutional changes. The kindly constitutional king Juan Carlos remains king largely because the country still remembers the totalitarian regime of Franco.
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth
Finally, the United Kingdom. No other monarch in the world can claim as many titles as the British monarch due to the continued existence of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Once a large organization of many large and small countries, the Commonwealth consists now of only fifteen mostly small countries, excepting Australia and Canada. The British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is entirely a figurehead in every country she is said to rule. There are large movements in most countries to end the constitutional monarchy. Britain, too, has movements against her but none have yet succeeded in their goals. In all, the British monarch rules Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. The majority of these Commonwealth countries continue to call Elizabeth their queen because the countries help each other progress toward a more developed future. It is mostly an economic union although it has other purposes as well such as easier immigration/emigration. Since calling the British monarch queen hardly affects their independent local governments, most Commonwealth countries have done so. In any case, the queen has no control over her domains and each country is an independent constitutional and democratic monarchy.

The future of monarchies is uncertain. While just around 30 remain today, many former monarchies have large monarchist movements while all current monarchies have anti-monarchy movements. What that means for the future is unclear. What is certain is that some form of monarchy will continue into the 21st century and therefore shape the direction of world politics. Whether they will have a resurgence or become a historical relic we cannot guess, but my hunch would be that monarchies will survive for quite a while longer in some form or another. They've lasted this long, haven't they?


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