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"It takes so much to be a king that he exists only as such. That extraneous glare that surrounds him hides him and conceals him from us; our sight breaks and is dissipated by it being filled and arrested by this strong light.”

(also cited as: "Tis so much to be a king, that he only is so by being so")

Michel de Montaigne

Basic Information

A *Monarchy* is a form of government where one or more rulers - called monarchs1 - are the nominal or actual rulers who reign until their deaths or abdication. Usually, the title of monarch is inherited, while at other times (one prominent example being the Holy Roman Empire) the monarch must be elected2, which may or may not be a formality.

A monarchy may be absolute (that is, the monarch has unrestricted rule of the state), constrained - where the monarch's power is limited by other power centres - or constitutional, wherein the monarch is ruler in name only, serving a mainly ceremonial role - albeit possibly with considerable powers of preferment and influence and in some cases a limited ability to apply veto powers in extraordinary situations.

Historically the rank of king (and linguistic equivalents) has been popular amongst monarchs - those claiming no noble degree at all were historically termed tyrants3, although this term has become pejorative - as has the historical term for an absolute monarch despot. That said, any independent ruler can generally be considered a monarch.

See Also

  • Despotism - an absolute monarchy, especially descriptive of "god-king" regimes and similar operations.
  • Feudalism - a system that is frequently in place at the same time as a monarchy.



Game and Story Use

  • As "monarch" is usually a job for life, removing a bad ruler can be rather tricky, and whole campaigns can revolve around such efforts.
    • The problem tends to come with replacing the ruler and making it stick - monarchies tend to assume a significant amount of tradition and process into the succession process. Violate that once and it can take a long time to settle down again.
    • Likewise, the unexpected loss of a monarch can play hob with the succession process.
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