Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Monarchy Definition:

A form of government in which law-making power is given to a single person, usually holding such authority by birthright and not by merit.

Related Terms: Government, Tyranny, Democracy, Crown, Theocracy, Royal Prerogative, Rex Nunquam Moritur, Oligarchy

Rule by one man or women; a king or queen.

John Bouvier, in his American Law Dictionary of 1856, defined a monarchy as follows:

"(G)overnment which is ruled (really or theoretically) by one man, who is wholly set apart from all other members of the state (called his subjects)."

He added that a disadvantage of a monarchy is that:

"... the personal interests or inclinations of the monarch or his house are substituted for the public interest; that to the chance of birth is left what with rational beings certainly ought to be the result of reason and wisdom."

A constitutional monarchy is a bit of an oxymoron but it does reflect the reality of a monarch having abdicated some of his or her powers by compact with the people or its representatives, within a constitutional document such as the Magna Carta.

monarch's CrownA monarchy is the opposite of a republic, the latter being government without king or queen.

Walter Bagehot (1826-1877) once said of a monarchy, in words hopefully dated:

"The best reason why monarchy is a strong government is that it is an intelligible government. The mass of mankind understand it, and they hardly anywhere in the world understand any other."

Justice Hobart wrote in Bruton v Morris:

"... if a people will refuse all government, it were against the law of God. And yet, if a popular state will receive a monarchy, it stands well with the law of God."



Categories & Topics:

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!