The Divine Right of Kings

Topics: Monarchy, Political philosophy, James I of England Pages: 6 (2352 words) Published: October 8, 2011
The seventeenth Century Spanish notion of kingship which is reflected in the national drama of the Golden Age is in dissimilarity to the historical realism of the authority and prestige of medieval rulers. Lope de Vega invests even medieval rulers with the status and rights enjoyed by Hapsburg monarchs; he stated that because the king is the only authority to whom a private resident may appear for redress of the authoritarian overlord, so God is the only one who can judge or punish a king. The consequence is the appearance of medieval proceedings and personality taken out of their own political structure and understood in the light of the Golden Age principles and seventeenth century political theory. Moreover, medieval political speculation symbolizes a mixture of political morals inherited from the ancient world and a lot of customs and traditions of the barbarian people which directed to a close association with the medieval politics and divinity. According to St. Augustine, in order to keep the ancient view of the origin in human civilization and management as a divine solution for the fall of man, he visualized the rulers as an instrument of God. Therefore, an evil ruler might be given by him to bad people as a punishment in order to give out divine justice more efficiently. Also, the inherited right of the individual ruler was hence conceived to develop directly from God without an intervention of popular will. Base on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, he says that civil government is of divine motivation and to oppose, it is to resist God. Consequently, there is a religious obligation by the Christian to obey civil authority; Pope Gregory VII therefore stated that good people will not resist a wicked ruler. As a result of this view, supporters quoted it later of the theory of the Divine Right of Kings which was very different from the medieval principle of the supremacy of the law. According to this theory, the institution of monarchy is of divine origin; hereditary right may not be questioned and resistance to the king is sinful; the king is accountable only to God. Moreover, the later view of the Divine Right of Kings accredited to the individual prince the authority which had in the past belonged to the monarchy as a whole. The nobleman Jacinto states openly the idea of the Divine Right of Kings by saying: “since the ruler is God’s representative on earth, the king commands the absolute obedience of his subjects. English divine-right theorists’ did not commonly support a theory of absolute monarchy that saw the king as somebody who made the laws binding each person in the kingdom but the monarch. On the other hand, the divine-right theorists in England could and regularly did argue the king could not make laws without the approval of the citizens, however if the monarch did so, he still could not be resisted. At the same time as the theories of royal absolutism include the divine-right concept, the theories of divine right do not essentially integrate the concept of royal absolutism. They both were given a new lease of life by the Reformation, but it was not at all times the case that they went hand in hand in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Consequently, the divine-right theory was built up to disprove the resistance theorists; it was a theory of duty in which both the leader and subjects had obligations before God rather than a theory of sovereignty or unlimited royal authority. James I delivered an illustrious words to his Lords and Commons at Whitehall in 1609 and since then they have been the subjects of discussion: “The State of Monarchie is the supremest thing upon earth: For Kings are not onely Gods Lieutenants upon earth, and sit upon Gods throne, but even by God himself they are called Gods.” He distinguished among the theoretical and real powers of a king; the difference was higher as part of the argument of a political discourse by one of his bishops. He also disputed that general statements...
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