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Hereditary monarchy

From Academic Kids

A hereditary monarchy is the most common style of monarchy and is the form that is used by almost all of the world's existing monarchies.

Under a hereditary monarchy, all the monarchs come from the same family, and the crown is passed down from one member to another member of the family. Hereditary system has the advantages of stability, continuity and predictability, as well as the internal stabilizing factors of family affection and loyalty.

For example, when the king or queen of a hereditary monarchy dies, the crown is usually passed to the next generation, i.e his or her child, typically in some order of seniority. When that child dies it is in turn passed to his or her child, or (if no child exists) a sister, brother, niece, nephew, cousin, or other relative. Hereditary monarchies most usually arrange succession by legislated, definite order of succession so that it is well beforehands known who will be the next monarch. Nowadays, the typical order of succession in hereditary monarchies is based on some form of primogeniture, but there exist other methods such as seniority, tanistry and rotation, which were much more common in the past.

Historically, there have been differences in systems of succession regarding whether succession is limited only to males or also females have accepted as heirs. Agnatic succession refers to systems where females are not allowed to succeed nor to transmit the succession rights to their descendants. Cf Salic Law. An agnate is a kinsman with whom one has a common ancestor by descent in unbroken male line. Formerly cognatic succession referred to any succession to the throne or other inheritance which allows both males and females to be heirs, though these days it specifically refers to equal succession by seniority.

Elective monarchy can practically function as a hereditary monarchy, for example in case of eligibility being limited to members of one family (and further, if there is somehow some rules of precedence in the election). This had happened in history, usually slowly, in many or even most of past elective monarchies. One mechanism was the incumbent monarch to get his own heir (son, daughter, brother, or like) elected already in the lifetime of the incumbent himself, when the incumbent was able to wield his influence or powers to lead the election to the desired result. Many late-medieval countries of Europe were officially elective monarchies, but the same family had held the throne already even centuries, and that hybrid situation should be described as pseudo-elective, virtually hereditary monarchies, the succession system being in slow transition. Most of those hybrid monarchies became officially hereditary in early modern age.

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