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The most remarkable feat of monarchy is to have survived into the 21st century, frequently challenged but still strong. It has persisted even though the hereditary principle has frequently meant that a reigning king or queen was not suited to the role, whatever their birthright. How was monarchy come to be associated with deomcracy and tolerance, when its roots lie elsewhere, in religious ritual, in absolutism and in the theory that kings rule by divine right? Brenda Ralph Lewis traces the origins and development of the idea of monarchy from ancient cultures to the rise of the modern world and the challenges to monarchical rule from revolutionaries and political theorists. She explores the biblical basis for European monarchy and its development at the hands of medieval clerics, who turned monarchy into a sacred institution, "God's annointed". She also explores monarchy in Asia and Africa, which in many ways has preserved the ancient origins of teh institution more carefully than their European counterparts. the book provides an overview of how kings and queens came about and of the many forces that have shaped the identity of monarchy and in many cases caused its downfall.

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