Neha Patil

Abolition of monarchy

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Abolition of monarchy

The abolition of monarchy has occurred throughout history, either through revolutions, coups d'état, wars, or legislative reforms (such as abdications). The founding of the Roman Republic is a noteworthy example and became part of the nation's traditions including as justification for the assassination of Julius Caesar. The twentieth century saw a major acceleration of this process, with many monarchies violently overthrown by revolution or war, or else abolished as part of the process of decolonisation. By contrast, the restoration of monarchies is rare in modern times, with only two major examples, Spain and Cambodia.

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17th-18th centuries

An early example of the abolition of a monarchy in modern times occurred in 1649 with the overthrow of the English monarchy by the Parliament of England and its armed forces under leaders such as Oliver Cromwell. 1660 saw a monarchical restoration - though in a more limited form moderated by a more independent Parliament.

Anti-monarchism in the United States developed out of the gradual process of revolution that began as early as 1765, as colonists resisted the Stamp Act through boycott and the expulsion and condemnation of royal officials. While subjects of Great Britain (a union of the Kingdom of England with the Kingdom of Scotland), the colonists of British North America enjoyed a level of autonomy which increasingly clashed with royal and Parliamentary authority which did not consult colonial needs. With the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the most violent wave of anti-monarchical protest began, with the systematic destruction of the relics and symbols of monarchy. Examples can be found in the toppling of the equestrian statue of George III on Bowling Green in New York City (9 July 1776). Monarchic loyalists were particularly affected by partisan attacks or harassment, with tens of thousands leaving for Canada, Britain, and other colonies. Wealth or property which remained was typically confiscated. Thomas Paine, the famous author of the revolutionary pamphlet "Common Sense", urged the colonists to finance the revolutionary war through this means. Even today, very few artifacts depicting the British monarchy from the colonial period can be found in the United States. However, not all anti-British or anti-Loyalist sentiment equated to anti-monarchism. The normalcy of having a King at the head of a polity had strong roots in much political thought (Machiavelli, Hobbes) and in religious doctrine (see for example 1 Samuel 8:6-9. Some Americans saw the presidency in monarchical terms.

However, the most famous abolition of monarchy in history - apart from the Dutch Republic of 1581 to 1795 - involved the French monarchy in 1792, during the French Revolution. The French monarchy was later restored several times with differing levels of authority. Napoleon, initially a hero of the Republican revolution, crowned himself emperor in 1804 only to be replaced by the Bourbon Restoration in 1815 which in turn was replaced by the more liberal July Monarchy in 1830.

The 1848 Revolution was a more clear anti-monarchic uprising that replaced the succession of royal leaders with the short-lived Second French Republic. Louid Napoleon Bonaparte established the Second French Empire (1852 to 1870), retaining republican aspects while placing himself in the center of the state until the losses in the Franco-Prussian War precipitated his fall, resulting in the French Third Republic and the definitive end of monarchism in the governing of France.

19th century

In 1858 the Mughal Empire came to an end after losing a war against Britain, and its Emperor, Bahadur Shah II, lost his throne. Between 1859 and 1861, four monarchies in Southern Europe ceased to exist: Parma, Modena, Tuscany and the Two Sicilies, when they all became part of the new Kingdom of Italy. The Second Mexican Empire collapsed in 1867, and its Emperor, Maximilian I of Mexico, was executed. The Second French Empire came to an end in 1870 after it had lost the war against Prussia, causing Emperor Napoleon III to lose his throne. He was the last monarch of France.

In Spain monarchy was abolished from 1873 to 1874 by the First Spanish Republic, but then restored until 1931. The monarchy of Tahiti came to an end in 1880 when France made it a colony and overthrew King Pōmare V. That of Burma was abolished in 1885, when the last king, Thibaw Min, lost his throne and the country was annexed by Britain. In Brazil, the monarchy was abolished in 1889, when Emperor Pedro II was overthrown by a republican military coup (the status of the republic was fully confirmed by a plebiscite in 1993 that resulted in 86.6% of the votes to the republican government). In 1893 foreign business leaders overthrew Queen Liliʻuokalani of the Kingdom of Hawaii. They established a republic, which joined the United States in 1898. The monarchy of Madagascar, known as the Merina Kingdom, came to an end in 1897 when France made it a colony and overthrew Queen Ranavalona III.

20th century

In 1910 the last emperor of Korea, Sunjong, lost his throne when the country was annexed by Japan. However, the Korean royal family was mediatised as a puppet family within the Japanese imperial family. Many of the Korean royals were forcibly re-educated in Japan and forced to marry Japanese royalty and aristocrats to meld the ruling families of the two empires. With the abolition of the Japanese aristocracy and cadet branches of the imperial family, the Korean royals officially lost their remaining status.

The monarchy of Portugal was also overthrown in 1910 (5 October), two years after the assassination of King Carlos I, ending the reign of Manuel II, who died in exile in England (1932), without issue.

The ancient monarchy of China ceased to exist in 1912 after the revolution of Sun Yat-sen overthrew Emperor Puyi. General Yuan Shikai, then provisional president, unsuccessfully tried to make himself a monarch in 1915.

World War I led to perhaps the greatest spate of abolition of monarchies in history. The conditions inside Russia and the poor performance in the war gave rise to a revolution which toppled the entire institution of the monarchy, followed by a second revolution against that government in October of the same year that executed Emperor Nicholas II and implemented a Marxist-Leninist government. The defeated German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires saw the abolition of their monarchies in the close aftermath of the war, ending the reigns of Wilhelm II, Charles I and Mehmed VI respectively. The monarchs of the constituent states within the German Empire, most importantly Ludwig III of Bavaria, Frederick Augustus III of Saxony and Wilhelm II of Württemberg, soon abdicated. During the war, monarchies were planned for the Grand Duchy of Finland (to have a Finnish King), and for Lithuania (Mindaugas II of Lithuania), with a protectorate-like dependency of Germany. Both intended kings renounced their thrones after Germany's defeat in November 1918. King Nicholas I of Montenegro lost his throne when the country became a part of Yugoslavia in 1918.

After the death of the last Emperor, Bogd Khan, in 1924, Mongolia became a republic. In Spain the monarchy was again abolished in 1931 by the Second Spanish Republic (1931–1936/39). In 1947, General Franco declared Spain a realm, and appointed Juan Carlos of Bourbon his successor in 1969. The Prince of Spain became king at Franco's death in 1975, and constitutional monarchy was restored in 1978 under him.

World War II saw another spate of abolitions. In 1939 Italy invaded Albania and removed the reigning self-proclaimed King Zog and instated their own King Victor Emmanuel III as its new monarch. Italy, along with the eastern European monarchies of Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania joined with Germany in World War II against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Western allies and the Soviet Union. As the Axis powers came to a defeat in the war, communist partisans in occupied Yugoslavia and occupied Albania seized power and ended the monarchies. Communists in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania removed their monarchies with strong backing by the Soviet Union, which had many troops and supporters placed there during the course of the war. Through this, Peter II of Yugoslavia, Simeon II of Bulgaria and Michael I of Romania all lost their thrones. King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy had switched sides during the war in favour of the western allies, but a referendum in 1946 ended the short reign of his son King Umberto II and the Italian monarchy ceased to exist. A unique result of the war was that Emperor Hirohito of Japan, who had held a debated but important role in Japan's warfare against the Allied powers, was reduced in stature from a divine monarch to a figurehead by the occupying United States, instead of losing his throne altogether.

Throughout Greece's eventful modern history, the monarchy was toppled and restored several times between and after the two World Wars. The last king, Constantine II, was forced into exile after a coup in 1967 and the republic was proclaimed in 1973 by the then ruling military dictatorship. Final abolition of the monarchy was confirmed overwhelmingly after constitutional legality was restored, by free referendum in 1974.

The independence of the Indian subcontinent from direct British rule in 1947 posed a unique problem. From 1858, when the British government had assumed direct rule over the subcontinent, it had been governed as a quasi-federation, with most of the subcontinent (known as British India), under the direct rule of the British sovereign. The remainder of the subcontinent, however, was under a form of indirect rule through its division and subdivision into over 500 subnational monarchies, known as princely states; each was ruled by a prince in a subsidiary alliance with the British government. The princely states ranged from powerful and largely independent principalities such as Hyderabad or Mysore, with a high level of autonomy, to tiny fiefdoms a few dozen acres in size. The resulting imperial structure was broadly similar to that of the German Empire before the First World War.

In 1947, it was agreed the Indian subcontinent would be partitioned into the independent British dominions of India and Pakistan, with the princely states acceding to one nation or the other. The accession process proceeded smoothly, with the notable exception of four of the most influential principalities. The Muslim ruler of the Hindu-majority state of Junagadh ruler acceded to Pakistan, but his decision was overruled by the Indian government, while Hyderabad chose to be independent, but was forcibly annexed to India in 1948. The Hindu ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, among the largest and most powerful of the principalities, but with a Muslim-majority population, initially held off on a decision. In the autumn of 1947, an invading force from Pakistan frightened the ruler into acceding to India. The ruler of Kalat, in Baluchistan, declared his independence in 1947, after which the state was forcibly merged with Pakistan, resulting in an insurgency persisting to this day. With the promulgation of the Indian constitution in 1950, India abolished its monarchy under the British crown and became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations, followed by Pakistan in 1956; as a result of both developments, the majority of the princes formally lost their sovereign rights. A few remaining principalities in Pakistan retained their autonomy until 1969, when they finally acceded to Pakistan. The Indian government formally derecognised its princely families in 1971, followed by Pakistan in 1972.

Many monarchies were abolished in the middle of the 20th century or later as part of the process of decolonisation. The monarchies of India, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, Guyana, and Malawi were abolished shortly after they became independent of the United Kingdom, while remaining within the Commonwealth. That of Ireland was not abolished when Ireland became independent of the United Kingdom in the 1920s, but by the Republic of Ireland Act of 1948, which came into force in 1949. Some Commonwealth realms waited a little longer before abolishing their monarchies: Pakistan became a republic in 1956 and South Africa in 1961. Gambia abolished its monarchy in 1970, while Sierra Leone became a republic in 1971, as did Sri Lanka in 1972, Malta in 1974, Trinidad and Tobago in 1976, and Fiji in 1987. The latest country to become a Commonwealth republic was Mauritius in 1992.

That of Egypt was abolished in 1953, after the revolution of 1952, which caused King Farouk I to abdicate in favour of his infant son Fuad II. The monarchy of Tunisia ended in 1957 when Muhammad VIII al-Amin lost his throne and that of Iraq when King Faisal II was killed and a republic proclaimed. The monarchy of Yemen was abolished in 1962 when King Muhammad al-Shami was overthrown in a coup, although he continued to resist his opponents until 1970. King Idris of Libya was overthrown by a military coup led by Muammar Gaddafi in 1969. The monarchy of Afghanistan was abolished in 1973 after a coup d'état overthrew King Mohammed Zahir Shah. That of Iran was abolished by the Islamic revolution of 1979 overthrowing Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In Ethiopia, Emperor Haile Selassie I was overthrown in 1974 as a result of a leftist coup. King Palden Thondup Namgyal of Sikkim lost his throne in 1975 when the country became a state of India following a referendum. Political upheaval and Communist insurrection put an end to the monarchies of Indochina after World War II: a short-lived attempt to leave a monarchical form of government in post-colonial South Vietnam came to naught in 1955, a military coup overthrew the kingless monarchy in Cambodia in 1970 and a Communist takeover ended the monarchy in Laos in 1975. Cambodia's monarchy later saw an unexpected rebirth under an internationally mediated peace settlement with former king Norodom Sihanouk being restored as a figurehead in 1993.

Brazil rejected an attempt to restore its monarchy in the 1990s. Unsuccessful efforts to restore the monarchies of some of the Balkan states in the former Eastern Bloc continue. Former King Michael of Romania and Prince Alexander of Serbia have been allowed to return, gained some popularity, played largely apolitical public roles, but never came close to being restored to their ancestral thrones. However, in Bulgaria, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who was deposed from the Bulgarian throne in 1946, was elected and recently served as the Prime Minister of his country from 2001 to 2005. The only formerly socialist country to have held a referendum on the monarchy was Albania where the claimant to his father's throne, the self-styled Leka I, lost by a huge margin.

In a 1999 referendum, the voters of Australia rejected a proposal to abolish their monarchy in favour of a specific republican model. The proposal was rejected in all states, with only the Australian Capital Territory voting in favour.

21st century

On 24 December 2007, the Nepalese government decided in an accord to abolish the monarchy after the elections to be held in April 2008. The Nepalese monarchy was formally abolished on 28 May 2008, causing King Gyanendra to lose his throne.

References

Abolition of monarchy Wikipedia


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