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Monarchy

Most past societies favoured monarchy, sometimes aided with oligarchic (feudal France and HRE), bureaucratic (Imperial China) or democratic (Witenagemot/Late Roman Senate) elements. However, Ancient Greece seems to be an exception: though most states started off as absolute monarchies (ruler bore the title basileus, not to be confused with the Byzantine usage for Roman Emperor) in mainstream Greek state, i.e. excluding Macedon, Thrace, Crete, Sicily and other semi-barbaric nations, it seems to have died out altogether by the late 6th century BC. Sparta did preserve a dual kingship system though much power was given to the ephors, who had the right to throw kings into prison, though it was by no means a fool proof system, as in the case of Pausanias. Monarchs provide a strong hand with which to guide a nation, but this system, like modern left and right wing dictatorships, is fundamentally based on a morally upright ruler. Monarchy also has the potential to cause much strife in wars of succession, as so often highlighted by the 18th century European Wars of Absolutism. Though a benefit is longer-termed policies, the overturning of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise’s policies by his debauched and slothful brother and successor Alexander is an example of how succession once again weakens the monarchic foundation.

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