The abdication (from Latin abdicare , to lose oneself ), also called abdication or renunciation , is the formal renunciation of public office by the holder, in particular the renunciation of the throne by a monarch . Even a pretender to the throne can abdicate with regard to his claim to the throne, but in this case one speaks of renunciation .
In European history, the abdication of monarchs is - in contrast to antiquity - a relatively common occurrence. Mostly it took place under duress through enemy dynasties, the heir apparent, civil wars or (since the 19th century) through revolutions .
In Luxembourg and the Netherlands , the abdication of the monarch has become a tradition. With the abdication of Queen Beatrix, the Dutch monarch passed on the royal dignity to the son or daughter for the third time in a row since the abdication of Queen Wilhelmina in 1948.
Abdication versus abdication
While the concept of abdication has a clearly defined, formal meaning in historical and political science , the word abdication is used much more frequently in common parlance - and today it is often used in a figurative sense.
If in politics a resignation or resignation from office is not due to external pressure, but for moral reasons or because of failure to implement ideas, such a resignation is now often seen as honorable and courageous. In the earlier customary abdication of kings and princes, this was rather rare. An example of an honorable abdication was Heinrich Dusemer in 1350.
The admissibility of abdication was once an important issue, as was the case with the tired Pope Celestine V in 1294, with Queen Christina of Sweden in 1654 or with Edward VIII of Great Britain in 1936.
Other questions arose when a monarch abdicated due to external pressure (e.g. from a parliament). In 1862, for example, because of the rejection of his military budget in the Prussian constitutional conflict, Wilhelm I considered abdicating in favor of his son. Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, however, expressed serious concerns: A monarch who abdicated because of a parliamentary resolution would create an undesirable precedent and make the rule of his successor more difficult.
Even Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui held the abdication of a monarch basically unworthy.
In some German principalities, in the course of the early modern period, according to contemporary constitutional law (cf. Julius Bernhard von Rohr , Friedrich Karl von Moser ) , the term abdication also extended to the end of a reign , such as in Hesse.
Revolutionary abdication in Europe
Probably the most extensive abdication of all time took place in Germany in November 1918, when Kaiser Wilhelm II , the Crown Prince and - with the exception of the Grand Duke of Hesse , the King of Bavaria and the Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmont - all the princes of the German states abdicated. In the case of the Kaiser himself, his last Prime Minister, Max von Baden , anticipated the decision of the monarch and informed the public; Wilhelm II did not sign the formal document until three weeks later, when the republic had long been proclaimed.
In Austria in 1848 the sick and indecisive Emperor Ferdinand I resigned the government after the revolution of that year on the advice of his relatives in favor of his 18-year-old nephew Franz Joseph I , but retained his personal imperial title. Emperor Karl I of Austria did not abdicate in 1918, but merely declared his "waiver of any share in state affairs". The constitutional effect was the same; the following day the republic was proclaimed in German Austria .
An example of a declaration of renunciation by a pretender to the throne is that of Otto von Habsburg in 1961 in order to be able to enter Austria . He did not receive his entry permit until five years later.
Historically significant abdications
Abdication of monarchs
- Han Xiandi , last emperor of the Chinese Han dynasty 220:
- Diocletian , the only Roman emperor who voluntarily resigned from office 305:
- Maximian , together with Diocletian resigned as emperor (briefly) 305:
- Tang Gaozu (China), in favor of his son Li Shimin 626:
- Bermudo I (Asturias) , after the defeat by the Moors 791:
- Lothar I (Franconian Empire) , for the division of the empire among his three sons 855:
- 1059: Isaac I (Byzantium) , due to an illness
- 1087: Shirakawa (Japan), became a Buddhist monk, but remained co-regent of his successor Horikawa
- 1105: Heinrich IV. (Holy Roman Empire), forced by his son Heinrich V.
- 1123: Toba (Japan), similar to his aforementioned grandfather Shirakawa
- 1126: Song Huizong (China), in favor of his son Qinzong
- 1146: Erik III. (Denmark) , for entering a monastery
- 1166: Gottfried II. (Brittany) , printed by King Heinrich II.
- 1192: Orio Mastropiero , Doge of Venice, to avert complications with Pisa and Genoa
- 1296: John Balliol (Scotland) after being defeated by the English at the Battle of Dunbar
- 1308: An-Nasir , Sultan of Egypt, withdrew to the Jordan in search of allies
- 1327: Edward II (England) , as a weak king in captivity, forced to abdicate
- 1328: Andronikos II. (Byzantium) , forced by his grandson Andronikos III.
- 1392: Go-Kameyama (Japan) in favor of the opposing Emperor Go-Komatsu
- 1512: Bayezid II (Ottoman Empire) abdicated shortly before his death in favor of his son Selim I.
- 1555/56: Charles V (Holy Roman Empire), renounced the Spanish throne and the Roman-German imperial dignity
- 1567: Maria Stuart (Scotland) in favor of her son Jacob VI.
- 1597: Wilhelm V (Bavaria) , after a gradual handover to his son Maximilian
- 1629: Go-Mizunoo (Japan), in favor of his daughter Meishō
- 1654: Christina (Sweden) , converted to the Catholic faith against the will of the Imperial Council
- 1668: John II Casimir (Poland-Lithuania), lost the fight against his domestic opponents
- 1688/89: Jacob II (England) , fled under pressure from parliament and his son-in-law Wilhelm III. against Catholicism
- 1706: Iyasu I , canonized Negus of Ethiopia, retires
- 1724: Philip V (Spain) , in favor of his son Ludwig I.
- 1730: Viktor Amadeus II , Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia, retires
- 1791: Friedrich Karl Alexander (Margrave of the Principality of Ansbach and Bayreuth) in favor of Prussia
- 1795: Stanislaus II August Poniatowski (Poland-Lithuania), after the third partition of Poland
- 1796: Qianlong (China), in favor of his son Jiaqing
- 1802: Charles Emanuel IV. (Savoy) , after the death of his wife, in favor of his son Viktor Emanuel I.
- 1808: Charles IV (Spain) , after an uprising, in favor of his son Ferdinand VII.
- 1810: Louis Bonaparte , King of Holland and brother of Napoleon, due to the annexation by France
- 1814/15: Napoleon (France), after military defeats, he resigns as Emperor of the French
- 1830: Charles X (France) , abdication of the throne under the pressure of the July Revolution
- 1848: Ferdinand I (Austria) , in favor of his nephew Franz Joseph
- 1848: Ludwig I (Bavaria) , in favor of his son Maximilian
- 1849: Karl Anton (Hohenzollern) , abdicated as sovereign in favor of Prussia
- 1858: Aleksandar Karađorđević (Serbia) , in favor of the Obrenovic dynasty
- 1866: Alexandru Ioan Cuza , after a military coup
- 1873: Amadeus I (Spain) , went into exile because of displeasure with the political situation
- 1886: Alexander I (Bulgaria) , fell victim to a coup by pro-Russian officers
- 1889: Milan I (Serbia) , in favor of his son Aleksandar Obrenovic
- 1895: Lili'uokalani , last Queen of Hawaii, abdicated two years after being released into captivity
- 1907: Thành Thái (Vietnam), declared insane by the French and forced to abdicate
- 1910: Sunjong , last emperor of Korea, forced by the Japanese
- 1912: Puyi , last emperor of China, because of a benevolent treaty with the Republic of China
- 1917: Nicholas II (Russia) , last Tsar, abdicates the throne under the pressure of the February Revolution
- 1918: Wilhelm II. (German Reich) , after Chancellor Max von Baden declared his abdication in the press on November 9th , he also formally abdicated as German Emperor and King of Prussia on November 28th
- 1918: The German Federal Princes abdicated as a result of the November Revolution .
- Duke Ernst August of Braunschweig November 8th:
- Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar November 9th:
- November 10th: Duke Bernhard III. from Sachsen-Meiningen
- November 11th: Grand Duke Friedrich August II of Oldenburg , Prince Heinrich XXVII. von Reuss-Gera and Prince Heinrich XXIV. von Reuss-Greiz
- November 12th: Duke Joachim Ernst von Anhalt and Prince Leopold IV von Lippe
- November 13th: King Friedrich August III. of Saxony , Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Altenburg and Duke Carl Eduard of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
- November 14th: Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg
- November 15: Prince Adolf II of Schaumburg-Lippe
- November 22nd: Grand Duke Friedrich II of Baden
- November 23rd and 25th: Prince Günther Victor von Schwarzburg
- November 30th: King Wilhelm II of Württemberg
- German monarchs who were deposed without their own formal declaration of abdication were King Ludwig III. of Bavaria (only Anifer declaration of November 13th), Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt and Prince Friedrich von Waldeck-Pyrmont .
- 1919: Maria-Adelheid (Luxemburg) , in favor of her sister Charlotte
- 1935: Prajadhipok (Siam), due to dissatisfaction with the newly formed government
- 1936: Edward VIII (Great Britain), because of his relationship with the divorced American Wallis Simpson
- 1941: Reza Shah Pahlavi (Iran), due to the Anglo-Soviet invasion, in favor of his son Mohammad Reza
- 1945: Bao Dai , last emperor of Vietnam, because of his ties to the Japanese occupying power
- 1946: Viktor Emanuel III. (Italy), in favor of his son Umberto
- 1947: Michael I (Romania) , last king of Romania, under pressure from the communist government
- 1948: Wilhelmina (Netherlands) , for reasons of age in favor of her daughter Juliana
- 1951: Leopold III. (Belgium) , in favor of his son Baudouin
- 1952: Faruq (Egypt), in favor of his son Fu'ad
- 1964: Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz (Saudi Arabia), went into exile at the insistence of the family
- 1964: Charlotte (Luxembourg) , for reasons of age in favor of her son Jean
- 1967: Omar Ali Saifuddin III. (Brunei), in favor of his son Hassanal Bolkiah
- 1980: Juliana (Netherlands) , for reasons of age in favor of her daughter Beatrix
- 2000: Jean (Luxembourg) , for reasons of age in favor of his son Henri
- 2004: Norodom Sihanouk (Cambodia), in favor of his son Norodom Sihamoni
- 2006: Jigme Singye Wangchuck (Bhutan), in favor of his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
- 2013: Beatrix (Netherlands) , in favor of her son Willem-Alexander
- 2013: Albert II (Belgium) , for reasons of age in favor of his son Philippe (Belgium)
- 2014: Juan Carlos I , in favor of his son Felipe
Abdication of pretenders to the throne
- 1860: Carlos Luis de Borbón , counted by the Carlist as Charles V of Spain
- 1961: Otto von Habsburg , signed a declaration of renunciation vis-à-vis the Republic of Austria
Abdication of the Popes
- Pontianus , in exile and there locked in a mine 235:
- 1294: Celestine V , wanted to live as a hermit again
- 1415: Gregory XII. To a new papal election to the Council of Constance permit
- 2013: Benedict XVI. , for reasons of age
- Susan Richter , Dirk Dirbach (ed.): Renunciation of the throne. The abdication in monarchies from the Middle Ages to modern times . Böhlau, Cologne 2010. ISBN 978-3-412-20535-5 .
- Susan Richter (ed.): Renounced rule. Media stagings of princely abdications in early modern Europe, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2019, ISBN 978-3-412-51563-8 .
- Lothar Machtan : The abdication: How Germany's crowned heads fell out of history. Propylaea Verlag 2008, ISBN 978-3-549-07308-7 .
- Viktor Cathrein SJ : Moral philosophy. A scientific exposition of the moral, including the legal, order. 2 volumes, 5th, newly worked through edition. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1911, Volume 2, p. 692 f. ( Abdication ).
- Pauline Puppel: Die Regentin: Vormundschaftliche Herrschaft in Hessen 1500-1700, (revised version Phil. Diss. University of Kassel 2002/03) Campus Verlag: Kassel 2004, pp. 135 ff. ISBN 978-3-593-37480-2
- Der Spiegel 29/1961; spiegel.de: Invasion postponed . After the National Council election on March 6, 1966, Austria's black-red (= grand) coalition ended. The Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) gave him six weeks after taking power, what Otto had for years processed vain: a valid passport for Austria.
- Vasile Stoica: The Roumanian Question: The Roumanians and their Lands . Pittsburgh Printing Company, Pittsburgh 1919, p. 70.