Civilopedia entry[edit | edit source]
Rule by monarchy developed as a logical extension of the absolute rule of tribal chieftains. Many of the earliest monarchs, such as those in ancient Egypt, claimed that they ruled by divine right. In the spread of European monarchy during the Middle Ages, however, rulership was generally conveyed upon a leader who could most effectively raise and command an army. Monarchies are dynastic, with rule of the country passing to the eldest son when the king dies or retires. Monarchs had absolute rule over their subjects, severely limiting the personal and economic freedom of all citizens except for nobility and the rich upper class. Although monarchies ruled most of Europe for centuries, the unhappiness of lower-class citizens eventually grew intolerable, causing several major revolutions. By the mid-18th century, the power of the European monarchs had been severely limited, paving the way for participatory systems of government.