Divine Right Monarchies

Through out World History, many similarities and differences arise. For example, many of the early civilizations had continuities, such as social and state organization, as well as agriculture. Another example is the differences in civil life based on environmental conditions. However, when thinking of these continuities and changes, one of the most prominent set of subjects is the Chinese Mandate of Heaven and the European Divine Right Monarchies.

The Chinese Mandate of Heaven and the Divine Right Monarchies are similar in that they both revolve around a government led by a divine ruler, but differed in that the Chinese Mandate of Heaven was held as a standard of behavior, as well. When comparing Divine Right Monarchies and the Chinese Mandate of Heaven, there are many similarities. First of all, both types of rule were used to overthrow the old means, ushering in a new, more religion-based and powerful rule, as well as a justification for the usurpation.

In Ancient China, when the Shang Dynasty was overthrown, a new system of government was needed. In an effort to assure the peoples of China that he was the right ruler for them, Ji Chang decreed that he was declared by Heaven as the ruler of the lands, and a “Son of Heaven” (http://www. wsu. edu:8080/~dee/GLOSSARY/TIENMING. HTM). He then set up a regime consisting of emperor worship, a concept which lasted for many dynasties.

In Europe, the concept of the Divine Right of Kings originated, again as justification for rule, in the Absolutist monarchies of portions of Europe, specifically Eastern Europe, as opposed to the Constitutional monarchies used in Western Europe (http://www. thenagain. info/WebChron/Glossary/AbsMonarch. html). This idea originated in the French ruler, Henry VI, and was expanded upon and implemented by Cardinal Richelieu, who sought “to make the royal power supreme in France and France supreme in Europe”(Sullivan 422).

In doing so, they created a tightly centralized government, with standing armies, and able to gain new territories, improve commerce, and deal with religious problems. Another similarity that rises is that in both settings, the king is divine. More specifically, in Europe, the king was the “lieutenant of God”, but in China, he was a “Son of Heaven”. According to James I’s Works, “The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth; for kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon earth, and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God himself are called gods?.

Kings are justly called gods, for that they exercise a manner or resemblance of divine power upon earth: for if you will consider the attributes to God, you shall see how they agree in the person of a king. God hath power to create or destroy, make or unmake, at his pleasure, to give life or send death, to judge all and to be judged nor accountable to none; to raise low things and to make high things low at his pleasure, and to God are both souls and body due.

And the like power have kings: they make and unmake their subjects, they have power of raising and casting down, of life and of death, judges over all their subjects and in all causes and yet accountable to none but God only. ” While similarities abound, there are also distinct differences between the two government ideas. The main one is the social implications of the ruler. In China, the Mandate of Heaven was based not only on the favor of Heaven, but on the ruler’s behavior as well. Since in that time, the ruling family was determined by military might, a new emperor could be named just by defeating the current ruler.

According to the Duke of Zhou, if an emperor abused his power, whether it is by cruel, unjust, or self-centered reign, the favor of Heaven would be withdrawn from the said ruler, in the form of another army conquering him, ushering in a new dynasty. This new ruler would then be given the Mandate, fulfilling the vacant role (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Mandate_of_heaven). However, in Europe, the Divine Right of Kings had no implications on the behavior of the ruler. If he was abusive, wrong, evil, or whatever, nothing could be done to strip him of his divine rule.

Furthermore, he could also do almost anything he wanted without fear of retribution or prosecution, for he was God. After all, would you want to anger an almighty God? Hm? Well, I didn’t think so. In conclusion, the Chinese Mandate of Heaven and the Divine Right Monarchies were similar by revolving around a divine monarch, and differing in the issues of behavior and consequences for evil rule. More information on this matter could be obtained by consulting bodies of law such as Parliament on the matter of the authority of absolutist monarchs.