Theory of divine right of kings

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is a stub and thus not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
This editable Main Article is under development and subject to a disclaimer.

According to the Theory of divine right of kings, monarchs have derived their authority to rule directly from God(s). In ancient times, many rulers themselves justified their rule by declaring themselves as living deities.


James I, in his book The law of free monarchies was the first to describe this theory. According to him, the King has derived his authority directly from God, and was thus, above the people, and above the law. The King answers only to God and his conscience. Thus, even if the King is wicked, the people have no right to go against him as it's considered as going against God. According to James I, "Kings are justly called Gods, for they exercise a resemblance of divine power on Earth". To dispute what a King can do is to dispute what God can do.

The salient features of the theory of divine right of kings are:

  • Monarchy is divinely ordained
  • Hereditary right is indefeasible
  • Kings are accountable to God alone
  • Resistance to a lawful King is sin


In antiquity

In ancient times, many rulers justified their right to rule by declaring themselves as living Gods. In ancient Egypt, the Pharaohs declared their right to rule by declaring themselves as living images of Amun or Ra. During the rule of Akhenaten, all polytheistic worship was banned, and all worship was directed towards the solar disk Aten. Akhenaten translates to "servant of the Aten", thereby justifying his divine right to rule. After Alexander's conquest of Egypt, he was declared the son of Amun-Ra. The following Ptolemaic rulers also justified themselves as the children of Amun-Ra. Controversial rulers of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire such as Julius Caesar were posthumously declared as deities, in order to justify their rule, which many considered to be tyrannical. Caligula declared himself as a living God, but was later assassinated. In India, it is believed that the state originated after God sent a wise man called Manu to rule over the people.

In medieval times

In modern times



Misra, K.K - Political Theory, page 72, ISBN 8121903467