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A hereditary monarchy is one in which the crown is passed down from one member of the royal family to another.

It is historically the most common type of monarchy and remains the dominant form in extant monarchies. It has the advantages of continuity of the concentration of power and wealth and predictability of who controls the means of governance and patronage.. Provided that the monarch is competent, not oppressive, and maintains an appropriate royal dignity, it also offers the stabilizing factors of popular affection for and loyalty to the royal family.[citation needed] The adjudication of what is oppressive, dignified and popular tends to remain in the purvue or the monarch. The main disadvantage is the heir apparent may be physically or temperamentally unfitted to rule. Other disadvantages are the inability of a people to choose their head of state, the ossified distribution of wealth and power across a broad spectrum of society, and the continuation of outmoded religious and social-economic structures mainly for the benefit of the Monarch, their families, and supporters.

Theoretically, when the king or queen of a hereditary monarchy dies or abdicates, the crown is typically passed to the next generation of the family. If no qualified child exists, the crown may pass to a brother, sister, nephew, niece, cousin, or other relative, in accordance with a predefined order of succession, often enshrined in legislation. This process establishes who will be the next monarch beforehand and avoids disputes among members of the royal family. In practice, there is an almost irresistible drive amongst the claimants to the throne. There are few if any monarchies that have not acquired and defended their hold on power through deceipt, murder, war and oppression.

In most current monarchies, the typical order of succession is based on a form of primogeniture, but there exist other methods such as seniority, tanistry (in which an heir-apparent is nominated from among qualified candidates) and rotation[clarification needed], which were more common in the past.

Historically, there have been differences in systems of succession, mainly revolving around the question of whether succession is limited to males, or if females are also eligible (historically, the crown often devolved on the eldest male child, as ability to lead an army in battle was a requisite of kingship). Agnatic succession refers to systems where females are neither allowed to succeed nor to transmit succession rights to their male descendants (see Salic Law). An agnate is a kinsman with whom one has a common ancestor by descent in an unbroken male line. Cognatic succession once referred to any succession which allowed both males and females to be heirs, although in modern usage it specifically refers to succession by seniority regardless of sex. Another factor which may be taken into account is the religious affiliation of the candidate or the candidate's spouse, specifically where the monarch also has a religious title or role; for example the British monarch has the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Elective monarchy can function in practice as a hereditary monarchy. If eligibility is limited to members of one family, or even specific sub-sets of members if allowed by the rules of the election. The limiting case, that only one family member is eligible for election, functions as hereditary monarchy (it could be regarded as a form of tanistry). This could come about if the reigning monarch exercised the monarchical power to have a chosen relative elected as heir during his or her reign. This system might be more aptly described as pseudo-elective or virtually-hereditary, with the succession system being in transition. Many late-medieval countries of Europe were officially elective monarchies, but in fact pseudo-elective; most became officially hereditary in the early modern age.

See also[edit]

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16 news items

Tue, 08 Jul 2014 00:52:30 -0700

Hereditary monarchy is not exactly a growth industry in the 21st century. But those who imagine monarchy to be useless in a democratic age might consider the case of Spain (a stable democracy that has just gone through a royal transition, with King ...
The Swazi Observer
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:07:30 -0700

The Japanese monarchy is the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world having begun with the legendary Emperor Jimmu in 660 BC. Since then there have been 124 recognised monarchs, including the current reigning emperor. The current ...

Shifting Grounds

Shifting Grounds
Mon, 07 Jul 2014 02:26:10 -0700

Of the various forms of government which have prevailed in the world, an hereditary monarchy seems to present the fairest scope for ridicule. Edward Gibbon. Recent reports about the cost of the Royal Family were spun by palace officials as a ...

The National Interest Online

The National Interest Online
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 16:26:15 -0700

In 509 B.C., the leaders of ancient Rome abolished their 244-year old hereditary monarchy, banished their last king and his family, and set in motion the establishment of a constitutional republic. Executive power, once held by the kings, was given to ...

History News Network

History News Network
Mon, 14 Jul 2014 00:18:45 -0700

The caliphate was eventually transformed into a hereditary monarchy under the Umayyad dynasty and Muawiyah, but continued to adopt and transform with each subsequent dynasty. Who was the last caliph? The Ottoman Empire's, Abdulhamid II was the last ...
Jacksonville Journal-Courier
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 17:45:00 -0700

The colonial delegates had not only committed treason, they openly published and declared their beliefs, which amounted to an open attack on the theological/philosophical underpinnings of hereditary monarchy. Every delegate signed the unanimous ...
Ad-Hoc-News (Pressemitteilung)
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 07:03:45 -0700

Hereditary monarchy is not exactly a growth industry in the 21st century. But those who imagine monarchy to be useless in a democratic age might consider the case of Spain (a stable democracy that has just gone through a royal transition, with King ...
American Thinker
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 23:20:36 -0700

In 1800, on the adoption of the Constitution of the Consulate; in 1802 on the Consulate for life; in 1804 on hereditary Monarchy; in 1815 on Additional Acts, legislative and municipal elections. President Obama is unlikely to resort to the device of ...

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