Chapter 7-11

The Monarchies we are acquainted with Icon

September 28, 2015

THE monarchies that we know do not have liberty as their goal. Their only aim is the glory of:

  • the subject,
  • the state, and
  • the sovereign.

But from these come a spirit of liberty, which can achieve great things in monarchial states, similar to liberty itself.

In a monarchy, the three powers are not distributed on the model of the constitution above-mentioned. They have each a particular distribution, according to which they border more or less on political liberty.

If they did not border upon it, monarchy would degenerate into despotic government.

Chapter 8= Why the Ancients had not a clear Idea of Monarchy

THE ancients had no notion of a government founded on a body of nobles, and much less on a legislative body compose d of the representatives of the people.

The republics of Greece and Italy w ere cities that had each their own form of government, and convened their s ubjects within their walls. Before Rome had swallowed up all the other repu blics, there was scarce any where a king to be found, no, not in Italy, Gaul, Spain, or Germany; they were all petty states or republics. Even Africa itself was subject to a great commonwealth, and Asia Minor was occupied by Greek colonies. There was, therefore, no instance of deputies of towns or a ssemblies of the states= one must have gone as far as Persia to find a mona rchy.

Confederate republics had several towns sending deputies to an assembly. However, there was no monarchy on that model.

The first plan, therefore, of the monarchies we are acquainted with was thus formed. The German nations, that conqu ered the Roman empire, were certainly a free people.

Of this we may be conv inced by only reading Tacitus On the Manners of the Ge rmans. The conquerors spread themselves over all the country; living mostly in the fields, and very little in towns. When they were in Germany, the whole nation was able to assemble. This they could no longer do, when dispersed through the conquered provinces. And yet, as it was necessary tha t the nation should deliberate on public affairs, pursuant to their usual m ethod before the conquest, they had recourse to representative.

Such is the origin of the Gothic government amongst us. At first, it was mixt with ari stocracy and monarchy; a mixture attended with this inconveniency, that the common people were bond-men.

The custom afterwards succeeded of granting letters of infranchisement, and was soon followed by so perfect a harmony be tween the civil liberty of the people, the privileges of the nobility and clergy, and the prince’s prerogative, that I really think there never was in the world a government so well tempered as that of each part of Eu rope, so long as it lasted. Surprizing, that the corruption of the governme nt of a conquering nation should have given birth to the best species of co nstitution that could possibly be imagined by man!

Chapter 9= Aristotle’s Way of thinking

ARISTOTLE is greatly puzzled in treating of monarchy*. He make s five species; and he does E dition= current; Page= [215] not distinguish them by the form of constitut ion, but by things merely accidental, as the virtues and vices of the princ e; or by things extrinsecal, such as tyranny usurped or inherited.

Among the number of monarchies, he ranks the Persian empire and the kingdom of Sparta. But is it not evident that t he one was a despotic state and the other a republic?

The ancients, who were strangers to the distribution of the three powers in the government of a single person, coul d never form a just idea of monarchy.

Chapter 10= What other Politicians thought

TO temper monarchy, Arybas, king of Epirus, found no other remedy than a republic. The Molossi, not knowing how to limit the sa me power, made two kings by which means the state was weakened more than the prerogat ive= they wanted rivals, and they created enemies.

Two kings were tolerable no where but at Sparta; here they did not form, but were only a part of, the constitution.

Chapter 11= The Kings of the heroic Times of Greece

IN the heroic times of Greece, a kind of monarchy arose that was not of long duration.

Those, who had been inventors of arts, wh o had fought in their country’s cause, who had established societies, or distributed lands among the people, obtained the regal power, and t ransmitted it to their children. They were kings, priests, and judges. This was one of the five species of monarchy mentioned by Aristotle and the only one that can give us any idea of the monarchical constitution. But the plan of this cons titution is opposite to that of our modern monarchies.

The three powers were there distributed in such a manner, that the people were the legislature, and the king had the executive, together with the judiciary, power; whereas, in modern monarchies, the prince is in vested with the executive and legislative powers, or, at least, with part of the legislative, but does not act in a judiciary capacity.

In the government of the kings of the he roic times, the three powers were ill-distributed. Hence those monarchies could not long subsist. For, as soon as the people got the legislative power into their hands, they might, as they every where did, upon the very least caprice, subvert the regal authority.

Among a free people, possessed of the le gislative power, and enclosed within walls, where every thing tending towar ds oppression appears still more odious, it is the master-piece of legislat ion to know where to place properly the judiciary power.

But it could not b e in worse hands than in those of the person to whom the executive power ha d been already committed. From that very instant the monarch became terribl e. But, at the same time, as he had no share in the legislature, he could m ake no defence against it; thus his power was, in one sense, too great, in another, too little.

They had not as yet discovered that the true function of a prince was to appoint judges, and not to sit as judge hi mself. The opposite policy rendered the government of a single person insup portable. Hence all these kings were banished. The Greeks had no notion of the proper distribution of the three powers in the government of one person ; they could see it only in that of many; and this kind of constitution the y distinguished by the name of polityE280A0.