Louis XIV of France expressed this idea in the famous phrase “L ‘e ‘tat, c ‘est moi,” (I am the State), what he really meant was: “I am the Government and what I say goes.” This is absolute Monarchy. The institution of Monarchy is a product of history and it has grown as a part of the evolution of the State. In the early stages of the development of the State the Monarchical system was the most beneficial, for it was characterised by singleness of purpose, unity, vigour and strength. The Monarch combined in him the functions of the law-maker, the judge, the executive and the military commander. He was, thus, able to hold together by his own personal force a society which otherwise might have broken up into many elements.
In the beginning, the Monarch was elected and, then, the institution became hereditary and it is now the normal type, wherever it exists. The early Roman kings were elected. The mediaeval kings were both hereditary and elected.
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A king may be elected in our own times. Nadir Shah, the father of the last ruler of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah, was an elected king. But it is not a normal feature and all monarchies are now hereditary. A hereditary king enjoys a life-long tenure and the office passes to his heirs according to the law of primogeniture. Absolute Monarchy has existed both in the East and in the West up to very recent times.
In the East, the leading example of a government of this character was that of Japan. In the eighties of the last century, Japan decided to abolish her old system of government and to establish in its place one corresponding to modern political ideas as represented by the existing governments of Europe and America. But even the new Constitution (1889) established a type of absolute monarchy.
Article 1 of the Constitution clearly stated that “the Empire of Japan shall be reigned over and governed by a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal.” Barton Ito, in his “Commentaries on the Constitution of the Empire of Japan”, explained the meaning of the phrase “reigned over and governed” and commented: “it is meant that the Emperor on his throne combines in himself the sovereignty of the State and the government of the country and of his subjects.” In the West, the two most important examples of governments resting on an absolute basis were those of Russia before the Revolution of 1917 and Germany immediately before the adoption of the Weimar Constitution of 1919. The despotic king always claimed that he got his authority direct from God, that he was God’s vice-regent on earth, that he ruled by divine right, and that he was answerable to none except God. This belief in the divine right of the kings to rule prevailed in all countries. In China the Emperor was described as the “Son of Heaven” and he claimed to rule by virtue of the mandate that he had received from Heaven.
Referring to Europe and Britain, Bryce says, “from the fifth to sixteenth century whoever asked what was the source of legal sovereignty and what the moral claim of the sovereign to obedience of subjects would have been answered that God has appointed certain powers to govern the world and that it would be a sin to resist His ordinance.” The king was, accordingly, free from all human limitations. He was accountable to God alone and not to his subjects. Some kings, no doubt, took high view of their duties and governed well and yet they were subject to no restraints, except the law of God.