Hereditary monarchy

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A hereditary monarchy (also hereditary monarchy ) is a monarchy in which the succession to the throne is regulated by inheritance law.

The lineage can be patrilinear , with rule being transferred from father to son, or matrilinear , i.e. mediated by a daughter - whereby in the latter cases the crown is usually transferred from the father-in-law to the son-in-law (e.g. in the eldest Chinese Empire ). The structural conflicts between ruler and heir are transformed into a (typically violent) familial father-son conflict. (see: family (sociology) ).

Another inheritance rule determines which of several children becomes inheritance: in primogeniture , which is much more common in practice, the oldest child inherits, in ultimogeniture the youngest.

Most common in the hereditary monarchy is the patrilineal primogeniture. A distinction must be made between the purely male line of succession according to the so-called " Salic Law " (today, for example, still in Liechtenstein ) and the softened form - for example according to the so-called " Pragmatic Sanction ", in which the ruler's sons are his daughters take precedence over inheritance, but this in turn takes precedence over further (also male) relatives (e.g. in the UK until 2011). Many of the still existing hereditary monarchies are moving away from these gender-based hereditary rules. For example, Sweden in 1980, Belgium in 1991, Denmark in 2009 and the United Kingdom in 2011 made the inheritance independent of this: the oldest child, regardless of gender, ascends the throne.

Despite the often dubious rulership quality of hereditary monarchs due to the genetic coincidences of inheritance, which can lead to actual power or their function being exercised by official or unofficial representatives ( regent , vizier , caretaker , shogun ), the hereditary monarchy becomes in Traditional societies are often preferred to the electoral monarchy because - judging from a political science perspective - their legitimacy is rated higher than that of an election that may even take place without social consensus, which can lead to conflict - in the extreme case even to a civil war .


  • Franz-Reiner Erkens : division and unity, elective monarchy and hereditary monarchy. From the change in lived norms. In: Helmut Neuhaus (Ed.): Constitutional changes. Conference of the Association for Constitutional History in Hofgeismar from March 15 to 17, 2010 (= Der Staat . Beih. 20). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-428-13687-2 , pp. 9-34.