- "I am the state."
– Louis XIV
The divine right theory of royal legitimacy holds that monarchs rule by direct sanction from God accordingly, they are not accountable to any authority other than God. Legislatures, courts, judges, and the governed have no right to restrain the king's exercise of his authority, according to this theory. When kings who proclaimed their divine right to rule disagreed with the Church on political or religious matters, the results were often interesting (and violent). Ironically, the theory of divine right was partly responsible for the rise of the idea of separation between church and state, since divine-right rulers claimed that their godly sanction entitled them to impose rules on the ecclesiastical authorities in their kingdoms (regardless of what the Church thought), and to ignore those authorities' instructions on how they ought to govern. The divine right doctrine began during the late Middle Ages, when rulers sought to rein in feudal lords whose support came with a few too many strings attached. It had begun to lose its luster around the 17th century, although Napoleon Bonaparte drove what was perhaps the final nail into its coffin when, at his imperial coronation ceremony, he seized the crown from the Pope's hands and placed it on his own head -- thereby denying God's prerogative to name rulers, and seizing that power for himself.