AskDefine | Define monarchism

Dictionary Definition

monarchism n : a belief in and advocacy of monarchy as a political system

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Rule by a monarchy
  2. The advocacy of such a political system

Extensive Definition

Monarchism is the advocacy of the establishment, preservation, or restoration of a monarchy as a form of government in a nation. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government out of principle, independent from the person, the Monarch, who happens to be the head of the monarchy or deposed by a revolution being the case, at a particular moment in time. It focuses on the system, and must be distinguished from a royalist. Monarchism was an important political movement for many centuries, but by the twentieth century, monarchism has disappeared in its most aggressive forms in most developed nations, though it has had significant political impact on some underdeveloped nations well into the late twentieth century and into the twenty-first such as in Iran in the Iranian Revolution and Nepal in the Nepalese Civil War.


In 1688, the British Glorious Revolution and the overthrow of King James II had established the principles of constitutional monarchy, which would later be worked out by Montesquieu and other thinkers. However, absolute monarchy, theorized by Hobbes in the Leviathan (1651), remained a dominant principle. In the 18th century, Voltaire and others encouraged "enlightened absolutism", which was embraced by the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II and Catherine II of Russia.
Absolutism continued to be the dominant political principle of sovereignty until the 1789 French Revolution and the regicide against Louis XVI, which established the concept of popular sovereignty upheld by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Monarchy became to be contested by the Republican principe. Counterrevolutionaries, such as Joseph de Maistre or Louis de Bonald, began to seek the restoration of the Ancien Régime, divided in the three estates of the realm, and the divine right of kings. Following the ousting of Napoleon I in 1814, the Coalition restored the Bourbon Dynasty in pushing Louis XVIII to the French throne. The ensuing period, called the Restauration, was characterized by a sharp conservative reaction and the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, supported by the ultramontanism movement, as a power in French politics. After the 1830 July Revolution and the overthrow of Charles X, the legitimist branch was defeated and the Orleanists, gathered behind Louis-Philippe, accepted the principle of constitutional monarchy.
The Spring of Nations in 1848 then set the signal for a new wave of revolutions against the European monarchies.
World War I and its aftermath saw the end of three major European monarchies, the Russian Romanov dynasty, the German Hohenzollern dynasty and the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg dynasty. In Russia, the 1917 February revolution resulted in the abdication of tsar Nicholas II and the establishment of Bolshevik Russia and a civil war between the Bolshevik Red Army and the monarchist White Army from 1917 to 1921. The rise of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 saw an increase in support for monarchism, however efforts by Hungarian monarchists failed to bring back a royal head of state, and the monarchists settled for a regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, to represent the monarchy until it could be restored. Horthy was regent from 1920 to 1944. In Germany a number of monarchists gathered around the German National People's Party which demanded the return of the Hohenzollern monarchy and an end to the Weimar Republic. The party retained a large base of support until the rise of Nazism in the 1930s. With the arrival of communism in eastern Europe by 1945, the remaining eastern European monarchies such as the Kingdom of Romania, the Kingdom of Hungary, and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia were all abolished and replaced by socialist republics.
The aftermath of World War II also saw the return of monarchist and republican rivalry in Italy, in which a referendum was held on whether Italy should remain a monarchy or become a republic. The republican side won the referendum and the modern Republic of Italy was created.
Monarchism as a political force internationally has substantially diminished since the end of the Second World War, though it had an important role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and had and continues to have a role in the political affairs of Nepal, as society is divided between those who support the monarchy and those who support Maoist rebels intending to tear down the monarchy. Nepal is one of the last states to have had an absolute monarch, as King Gyanendra of Nepal declared himself the absolute ruler of Nepal in 2005. One of the world's oldest monarchies (if not the oldest) was abolished in Ethiopia in 1974 with the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie.

Legitimists and Orleanists in France

In France, Louis-Philippe abdicated on February 24, 1848, opening the way to the Second Republic (1848-52), which lasted until Napoleon III's December 2, 1851 coup d'état and the establishment of the Second Empire (1852-1870). The royalist movement only came back in force following the 1870 defeat against Prussia and the crushing of the 1871 Paris Commune by Orleanist Adolphe Thiers. Legitimists and Orleanists controlled the majority of the Assemblies, and supported Patrice MacMahon, the duc of Magenta, as president of the Ordre moral government. But the intransigeance of the comte de Chambord, who refused to abandon the white flag and its fleur-de-lys against the republican tricolore, and the May 16, 1877 crisis forced the legitimists to abandon the political arena, while some of the more liberal Orleanists "rallied" throughout the years to the Third Republic (1870-1945). However, since the monarchy and Catholicism were long entangled ("the alliance of the Throne and the Altar"), republican ideas were often tinged with anti-clericalism, which led to some turmoil during Radical Emile Combes' cabinet in the beginning of the 20th century. The Action Française, founded in 1898 during the Dreyfus affair, remained an influential far right movement throughout the 1930s, taking part in the February 6, 1934 riots. Some royalists, such as Georges Valois who founded the Faisceau, became involved in fascism after the 1926 Papal condemnation of the Action Française by Pius XI. Royalists were then active under the Vichy regime, with the leader of the Action Française Charles Maurras qualifying as "divine surprise" the overthrow of the Republic and the arrival to power of Marshal Pétain. A few of them, such as Henri d'Astier de la Vigerie, took part in the Resistance out of patriotic concerns. The Action Française was then dissolved after the war, but Maurice Pujo founded it again in 1947. Some legitimists had become involved in the traditionalist Catholic movement, which refused the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council and followed the 1970 foundation of the traditionalist Catholic Society of St. Pius X by Marcel Lefebvre. Bertrand Renouvin made a breakaway movement from the Action Française in 1971, the Nouvelle Action Française which became the Nouvelle Action Royaliste, while some legitimists joined Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National, founded in 1972.

Constitutional monarchies

Constitutional monarchies form the majority of the current monarchies. Since the middle of the 19th century, some monarchists have stopped defending monarchy on the basis of abstract, universal principles applicable to all nations, or even on the grounds that a monarchy would be the best or most practical government for the nation in question, but on local symbolic grounds that they would be a particular nation's link to the past.
The International Monarchist League, founded in 1943, which has been very influential in Canada and Australia, has always sought to promote monarchy on the grounds that it strengthens popular liberty, both in a democracy and in a dictatorship, because by definition the monarch is not beholden to politicians.
Hence, post-19th century debates on whether to preserve a monarchy or to adopt a republican form of government have often been debates over national identity, with the monarch generally serving as a symbol for other issues.
For example, in countries like Belgium and The Netherlands anti-monarchist talk is often centered around the perceived symbolism of a monarch contrasting with those nation's political culture of egalitarianism. In Belgium, another factor are the anti-Belgian sentiments of the separatist Flemish movement.
In Canada and Australia, by contrast, debates over monarchy represent or represented debates whose driving force concerned each nation's relationship with the United Kingdom and the cultural heritage that that represents. In a nation like Saudi Arabia, finally, opposition to the monarchy may be synonmous with advocacy of democracy or Islamic fundamentalism. As monarchies take many different forms, so too do pro- and anti-monarchy debates.
Even a country such as the United States, which has been a republic from its foundation, has some monarchist adherents. The minority are restorationists, who advocate returning authority to Elizabeth II as the current legitimate heir of George III, presumably as a constitutional monarchy similar to her powers in those Commonwealth of Nations members that recognize her as Queen. However, the majority of American Monarchists believe that America would best be led by an independent dynasty.
Otto von Habsburg advocates a form of constitutional monarchy based on primacy of the supreme judicial function, with hereditary succession, if suitability is problematic, mediated by a tribunal

Monarchist groups - past and present


North America

Latin America


External links

monarchism in Czech: Roajalismus
monarchism in German: Monarchismus
monarchism in Estonian: Monarhism
monarchism in Spanish: Monarquismo
monarchism in French: Monarchisme
monarchism in Indonesian: Monarkisme
monarchism in Italian: Monarchismo
monarchism in Lithuanian: Monarchizmas
monarchism in Dutch: Monarchisme
monarchism in Norwegian Nynorsk: Monarkisme
monarchism in Polish: Monarchizm
monarchism in Russian: Монархизм
monarchism in Swedish: Monarkism
monarchism in Vietnamese: Chế độ quân chủ

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bourbonism, Nazism, Toryism, backwardness, centralism, collectivism, communism, conservatism, conservativeness, constitutionalism, democratism, die-hardism, extreme right, extreme right wing, extreme rightism, fascism, federalism, feudalism, feudality, governmentalism, imperialism, know-nothingism, laissez-faireism, national socialism, neofascism, old school tie, parliamentarianism, parliamentarism, pluralism, political principles, radical rightism, reaction, reactionariness, reactionaryism, republicanism, rightism, royalism, social Darwinism, socialism, standpattism, statism, ultraconservatism, unprogressiveness
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