Portal:Monarchy
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Portal:Monarchy

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 natural person, the monarch, is head of state until death or abdication. The governing power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic or partial (crowned republic), to restricted (constitutional monarchy), to fully autocratic (absolute monarchy), combining heads of state, government, legislature and judiciary.

There are elective, self-proclaimed or as in most cases, hereditary monarchies. For many such cases aristocracy, though not inherent to monarchies, serves as the pool of persons to draw the monarch from and fill the constituting institutions (e.g. diet and court), giving many monarchies oligarchic elements.

A monarchy can be a polity in personal union, vassalage, federation or unitary. Its authorities are proclaimed and recognized through the different seats, insignia and titles that a monarch can occupy and be invested with. For example, monarchs can carry titles such as king, queen, emperor, khan, caliph, tsar, or sultan, and can be bound to territories or peoples, as in Emperor of Japan or King of Belgians.

Strictly speaking has the republic become the opposing form of government to a monarchy, though there have been infringements of this core principle of republics, legitimating lifetime 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.

Although most contemporary monarchies are nations, historically, monarchic polities are not to be understood through the logic of the nation state or even a classic territorial state. A nation or constitution is not necessary in a monarchy since a person, the monarch, binds the separate territories and political legitimacy (e.g. in personal union) together.

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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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Crown of Silla
Credit: Photograph: National Museum of Korea

The crowns of Silla are a series of gold crowns made in the Korean kingdom of Silla between the 5th and 7th centuries CE. These crowns were excavated in Gyeongju, the former capital of Silla. All are designated national treasures of South Korea. Shown here is the gold crown from Seobongchong Tumulus (Treasure No. 339), an ornamented crown with five branches standing on the broad crown frame. It is held by the Gyeongju National Museum.

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Maria I of Portugal
Credit: Attributed to Giuseppe Troni

Dona Maria I was Queen of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Known as Maria the Pious (in Portugal), or Maria the Mad (in Brazil), she was the first undisputed Queen regnant of Portugal and the first monarch of Brazil. With Napoleon's European conquests, her court, then under the direction of Prince Dom João, the Prince Regent, moved to Brazil, then a Portuguese colony. Later on, Brazil would be elevated from the rank of a colony to that of a kingdom, with the consequential formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.

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Titian, Pope Paul III and His Grandsons, 1545-46. Oil on canvas, 210cm × 176cm, Museo di Capodimonte, Naples. Cardinal Alessandro Farnese stands behind Pope Paul III. Ottavio Farnese at right prepares to kiss Paul's feet.
Pope Paul III and His Grandsons is an oil on canvas painting by Titian, housed in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples. It was commissioned by the Farnese family and painted during Titian's visit to Rome between autumn 1545 and June 1546. It depicts the thorny relationship between Pope Paul III, born Alessandro Farnese, and two of his grandsons, Ottavio and Alessandro. The painting explores the effects of ageing and the manoeuvring behind succession; Paul was at the time in his late seventies and operating within an uncertain political climate as Charles V came into ascendancy. Paul was not a religious man; he viewed the papacy as a means to consolidate his family's position. He appointed Alessandro as cardinal against accusations of nepotism, fathered a number of illegitimate children and spent large sums of church money collecting art. Titian abandoned the commission before completion, and for the next 100 years the painting languished unframed in a Farnese cellar. It ranks as one of Titian's most penetrating works. The panel contains subtle indications of the contradictions in the character of the Pope, and captures the complex psychological dynamic between the three men.


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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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