The Monarchy Portal

The Weld-Blundell Prism is inscribed with the Sumerian King List
The Weld-Blundell Prism is inscribed with the Sumerian King List
The heraldic crown for the King of Norway (1905 pattern)
The heraldic crown for the King of Norway (1905 pattern)

A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restricted and largely symbolic (constitutional monarchy), to fully autocratic (absolute monarchy), and can expand across the domains of the executive, legislative, and judicial.

The succession of monarchs is in most cases hereditary, often building dynastic periods. However, elective and self-proclaimed monarchies are possible. Aristocrats, though not inherent to monarchies, often serve 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.

Monarchs can carry various titles such as emperor, empress, king, queen, raja, khan, tsar, sultan, shah, or pharaoh. Monarchies can form federations, personal unions and realms with vassals through personal association with the monarch, which is a common reason for monarchs carrying several titles.

Monarchies were the most common form of government until the 20th century, by which time republics had replaced many monarchies. Today forty-three sovereign nations in the world have a monarch, including fifteen Commonwealth realms that share Elizabeth II as their head of state. Other than that there are a range of sub-national monarchical entities. Modern monarchies tend to be constitutional monarchies, retaining under a constitution unique legal and ceremonial roles for the monarch, exercising limited or no political power, similar to heads of state in a parliamentary republic. (Full article...)

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Featured articles are displayed here, which represent some of the best content on English Wikipedia.

  • Photo by Alexander Bassano, c. 1882
    Photo by Alexander Bassano, c. 1882
  • Muhammad I (red tunic and shield) depicted leading his troops during the Mudéjar revolt of 1264–1266 in the Cantigas de Santa Maria
    Muhammad I (red tunic and shield) depicted leading his troops during the Mudéjar revolt of 1264–1266 in the Cantigas de Santa Maria
  • Miniature from Matthew Paris's Historia Anglorum, c. 1253. The portrait is generic and depicts Henry holding the Church of Reading Abbey, where he was buried.
    Miniature from Matthew Paris's Historia Anglorum, c. 1253. The portrait is generic and depicts Henry holding the Church of Reading Abbey, where he was buried.
  • Portrayal of Stephen I on the Hungarian coronation pall from 1031
    Portrayal of Stephen I on the Hungarian coronation pall from 1031
  • Photograph by Alexander Bassano, 1882
    Photograph by Alexander Bassano, 1882
  • Portrait from the studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1714
    Portrait from the studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1714
  • Æthelberht in the early fourteenth-century Genealogical Roll of the Kings of England
    Æthelberht in the early fourteenth-century Genealogical Roll of the Kings of England
  • Philip I's portrait on the obverse of a tetradrachm
    Philip I's portrait on the obverse of a tetradrachm
  • Stained glass window in St John's Chester
    Stained glass window in St John's Chester
  • A gold solidus bearing the image of Basiliscus and Marcus
    A gold solidus bearing the image of Basiliscus and Marcus
  • Portrait by Michael Dahl, 1705
    Portrait by Michael Dahl, 1705
  • Image 15Siward (/ˈsuːwərd/ or more recently /ˈsiːwərd/) or Sigurd (Old English: Sigeweard, Old Norse: Sigurðr digri)  was an important earl of 11th-century northern England. The Old Norse nickname Digri and its Latin translation Grossus ("the stout") are given to him by near-contemporary texts.  It is possible Siward may have been of Scandinavian or Anglo-Scandinavian origin, perhaps a relative of Earl Ulf, although this is speculative and unclear. He emerged as a powerful regional strongman in England during the reign of Cnut ("Canute the Great", 1016–1035). Cnut was a Scandinavian ruler who conquered England in the 1010s, and Siward was one of the many Scandinavians who came to England in the aftermath of that conquest. Siward subsequently rose to become sub-ruler of most of northern England. From 1033 at the latest Siward was in control of southern Northumbria, that is, present-day Yorkshire, governing as earl on Cnut's behalf.He entrenched his position in northern England by marrying Ælfflæd, the daughter of Ealdred, Earl of Bamburgh. After killing Ealdred's successor Eadulf in 1041, Siward gained control of all Northumbria. He exerted his power in support of Cnut's successors, kings Harthacnut and Edward, assisting them with vital military aid and counsel. He probably gained control of the middle shires of Northampton and Huntingdon by the 1050s, and there is some evidence that he spread Northumbrian control into Cumberland. In the early 1050s Earl Siward turned against the Scottish king Mac Bethad mac Findlaích ("Macbeth"). Despite the death of his son Osbjorn, Siward defeated Mac Bethad in battle in 1054. More than half a millennium later the adventure in Scotland earned him a place in William Shakespeare's Macbeth. Siward died in 1055, leaving one son, Waltheof, who would eventually succeed to Northumbria. St Olave's church in York and nearby Heslington Hill are associated with Siward. (Full article...)
    Siward (/ˈswərd/ or more recently /ˈswərd/) or Sigurd (Old English: Sigeweard, Old Norse: Sigurðr digri) was an important earl of 11th-century northern England. The Old Norse nickname Digri and its Latin translation Grossus ("the stout") are given to him by near-contemporary texts. It is possible Siward may have been of Scandinavian or Anglo-Scandinavian origin, perhaps a relative of Earl Ulf, although this is speculative and unclear. He emerged as a powerful regional strongman in England during the reign of Cnut ("Canute the Great", 1016–1035). Cnut was a Scandinavian ruler who conquered England in the 1010s, and Siward was one of the many Scandinavians who came to England in the aftermath of that conquest. Siward subsequently rose to become sub-ruler of most of northern England. From 1033 at the latest Siward was in control of southern Northumbria, that is, present-day Yorkshire, governing as earl on Cnut's behalf.

    He entrenched his position in northern England by marrying Ælfflæd, the daughter of Ealdred, Earl of Bamburgh. After killing Ealdred's successor Eadulf in 1041, Siward gained control of all Northumbria. He exerted his power in support of Cnut's successors, kings Harthacnut and Edward, assisting them with vital military aid and counsel. He probably gained control of the middle shires of Northampton and Huntingdon by the 1050s, and there is some evidence that he spread Northumbrian control into Cumberland. In the early 1050s Earl Siward turned against the Scottish king Mac Bethad mac Findlaích ("Macbeth"). Despite the death of his son Osbjorn, Siward defeated Mac Bethad in battle in 1054. More than half a millennium later the adventure in Scotland earned him a place in William Shakespeare's Macbeth. Siward died in 1055, leaving one son, Waltheof, who would eventually succeed to Northumbria. St Olave's church in York and nearby Heslington Hill are associated with Siward. (Full article...)

Featured picture

Great coat of arms of the Russian Empire (1800)
Credit: Unknown

The Great Coat of Arms of the Russian Empire, as presented to Emperor Paul I in October 1800. The use of the double-headed eagle in the coat of arms (seen in multiple locations here) goes back to the 15th century. With the fall of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the Grand Dukes of Muscovy came to see themselves as the successors of the Byzantine heritage, a notion reinforced by the marriage of Ivan III to Sophia Paleologue. Ivan adopted the golden Byzantine double-headed eagle in his seal, first documented in 1472, marking his direct claim to the Roman imperial heritage and his assertion as sovereign equal and rival to the Holy Roman Empire.

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  • Image 1Gubazes II (Georgian: გუბაზ II, Greek: Γουβάζης) was king of Lazica (modern western Georgia) from circa 541 until his assassination in 555. He was one of the central personalities of the Lazic War (541–562). He originally ascended the throne as a vassal of the Byzantine Empire, but the heavy-handed actions of the Byzantine authorities led him to seek the assistance of Byzantium's main rival, Sassanid Persia. The Byzantines were evicted from Lazica with the aid of a Persian army in 541, but the Persian occupation of the country turned out to be worse, and by 548, Gubazes was requesting assistance from Byzantium. Gubazes remained a Byzantine ally during the next few years, as the two empires fought for control of Lazica, with the fortress of Petra as the focal point of the struggle. Gubazes eventually quarrelled with the Byzantine generals over the fruitless continuation of the war, and was assassinated by them. (Full article...)
    Gubazes II (Georgian: გუბაზ II, Greek: Γουβάζης) was king of Lazica (modern western Georgia) from circa 541 until his assassination in 555. He was one of the central personalities of the Lazic War (541–562). He originally ascended the throne as a vassal of the Byzantine Empire, but the heavy-handed actions of the Byzantine authorities led him to seek the assistance of Byzantium's main rival, Sassanid Persia. The Byzantines were evicted from Lazica with the aid of a Persian army in 541, but the Persian occupation of the country turned out to be worse, and by 548, Gubazes was requesting assistance from Byzantium. Gubazes remained a Byzantine ally during the next few years, as the two empires fought for control of Lazica, with the fortress of Petra as the focal point of the struggle. Gubazes eventually quarrelled with the Byzantine generals over the fruitless continuation of the war, and was assassinated by them. (Full article...)
  • Death of Hugh
    Death of Hugh
  • Image 4Ralambo was the ruler of the Kingdom of Imerina in the central Highlands region of Madagascar from 1575 to 1612.  Ruling from Ambohidrabiby, Ralambo expanded the realm of his father, Andriamanelo, and was the first to assign the name of Imerina to the region.  Oral history has preserved numerous legends about this king, including several dramatic military victories, contributing to his heroic and near-mythical status among the kings of ancient Imerina. The circumstances surrounding his birth, which occurred on the highly auspicious date of the first of the year, are said to be supernatural in nature and further add to the mystique of this sovereign.Oral history attributes numerous significant and lasting political and cultural innovations to King Ralambo. He is credited with popularizing the consumption of beef in the Kingdom of Imerina and celebrating this discovery with the establishment of the fandroana New Year's festival which traditionally took place on the day of Ralambo's birth. According to legend, circumcision and polygamy were also introduced under his rule, as was the division of the noble class (andriana) into four sub-castes. Oral history furthermore traces the tradition of royal idols (sampy) in Imerina to the reign of Ralambo, who made heavy use of these supernatural objects to expand his realm and consolidate the divine nature of his sovereignty. Due to the enduring cultural legacy left by this king, Ralambo is often considered a key figure in the development of Merina cultural identity. (Full article...)
    Ralambo was the ruler of the Kingdom of Imerina in the central Highlands region of Madagascar from 1575 to 1612. Ruling from Ambohidrabiby, Ralambo expanded the realm of his father, Andriamanelo, and was the first to assign the name of Imerina to the region. Oral history has preserved numerous legends about this king, including several dramatic military victories, contributing to his heroic and near-mythical status among the kings of ancient Imerina. The circumstances surrounding his birth, which occurred on the highly auspicious date of the first of the year, are said to be supernatural in nature and further add to the mystique of this sovereign.

    Oral history attributes numerous significant and lasting political and cultural innovations to King Ralambo. He is credited with popularizing the consumption of beef in the Kingdom of Imerina and celebrating this discovery with the establishment of the fandroana New Year's festival which traditionally took place on the day of Ralambo's birth. According to legend, circumcision and polygamy were also introduced under his rule, as was the division of the noble class (andriana) into four sub-castes. Oral history furthermore traces the tradition of royal idols (sampy) in Imerina to the reign of Ralambo, who made heavy use of these supernatural objects to expand his realm and consolidate the divine nature of his sovereignty. Due to the enduring cultural legacy left by this king, Ralambo is often considered a key figure in the development of Merina cultural identity. (Full article...)
  • Hedingham Castle, Essex, seat of the Earls of Oxford
    Hedingham Castle, Essex, seat of the Earls of Oxford
  • Coin of a Parthian ruler, possibly Phraates I. Minted at Hecatompylos between 185–132 BC
    Coin of a Parthian ruler, possibly Phraates I. Minted at Hecatompylos between 185–132 BC
  • Half-Siliqua of Emperor Theodosius
    Half-Siliqua of Emperor Theodosius
  • Orodes II's portrait on the obverse of a tetradrachm, showing him wearing a beard and a diadem on his head, Mithradatkert mint
    Orodes II's portrait on the obverse of a tetradrachm, showing him wearing a beard and a diadem on his head, Mithradatkert mint
  • Replicated depiction of Basil II from the Menologion of Basil II
    Replicated depiction of Basil II from the Menologion of Basil II
  • Miniature from the manuscript of Pachymeres' Historia
    Miniature from the manuscript of Pachymeres' Historia
  • Image 14Zeynab Begum (Persian: زینب بیگم; died 31 May 1640), the fourth daughter of Safavid king (shah) Tahmasp I (r. 1524–1576), is considered to be one of the most influential and powerful princesses of the Safavid era. She lived during the reigns of five successive Safavid monarchs, and apart from holding diverse functions, including at the top of the empire's bureaucratic system, she was also the leading matriarch in the royal harem for many years, and acted on occasion as kingmaker. She reached the apex of her influence during the early reign of King Safi (r. 1629–1649). In numerous contemporaneous sources, she was praised as a "mainstay of political moderation and wisdom in Safavid court politics". (Full article...)
    Zeynab Begum (Persian: زینب بیگم; died 31 May 1640), the fourth daughter of Safavid king (shah) Tahmasp I (r. 1524–1576), is considered to be one of the most influential and powerful princesses of the Safavid era. She lived during the reigns of five successive Safavid monarchs, and apart from holding diverse functions, including at the top of the empire's bureaucratic system, she was also the leading matriarch in the royal harem for many years, and acted on occasion as kingmaker. She reached the apex of her influence during the early reign of King Safi (r. 1629–1649). In numerous contemporaneous sources, she was praised as a "mainstay of political moderation and wisdom in Safavid court politics". (Full article...)
  • Sihanouk in 1983
    Sihanouk in 1983

Featured portrait

Edward VI of England
Credit: Unknown, probably of the Flemish School

A portrait of Edward VI of England, when he was Prince of Wales. He is shown wearing a badge with the Prince of Wales's feathers. It was most likely painted in 1546 when he was eight years old, during the time when he was resident at Hunsdon House. Edward became King of England, King of France and Edward I of Ireland the following year. He was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first ruler who was Protestant at the time of his ascension to the throne. Edward's entire rule was mediated through a council of regency. He died at the age of 15 in 1553.

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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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