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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: July 2020

Introduction - Royal Families

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      • Royal Families
      • Robert Bartlett, University of St Andrews, Scotland
      • Book: Blood Royal
      • Online publication: 09 July 2020
      • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108854559.001
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      • Royal Families
      • Robert Bartlett, University of St Andrews, Scotland
      • Book: Blood Royal
      • Online publication: 09 July 2020
      • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108854559.001
      Available formats
      ×

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      • Royal Families
      • Robert Bartlett, University of St Andrews, Scotland
      • Book: Blood Royal
      • Online publication: 09 July 2020
      • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108854559.001
      Available formats
      ×

Summary

Monarchies are now rare in the world, numbering around twenty in a system of almost two hundred independent states, but for hundreds of years monarchy was the way that politics worked in most countries. And monarchy meant power was in the hands of a family – a dynasty – and hence politics was family politics. It was not elections or referenda that shaped political life, but the births, marriages and deaths of the ruling family. This added further unpredictability to the unpredictable business of ruling. Even in modern Western democracies there have been political dynasties producing recurrent presidents, such as George Bush (1989–93) and George W. Bush (2001–9) in the USA, although this is rare. And the crucial thing about these democracies is that while George W. Bush could legitimately inherit personal property from his father, he could not inherit office.