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Abdication (from the Latin abdicatio, disowning, renouncing, from ab, from, and dicare, to declare, to proclaim as not belonging to one) is the act of renouncing and resigning from a formal office, especially from the supreme office of state. In Roman law the term was also applied to the disowning of a family member, as the disinheriting of a son. The term commonly applies to monarchs. A similar term for an elected or appointed official is resignation.


[edit] Abdications in Classical Antiquity

Among the most memorable abdications of antiquity were those of Lucius Cornelius Sulla the Dictator in 79 BC, Emperor Diocletian in AD 305, and Emperor Romulus Augustus in AD 476.

[edit] The British Crown

Probably the most famous abdication in recent memory is that of King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom in 1936. Edward abdicated the British throne in order to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson, over the objections of the British establishment, the governments of the Commonwealth, the royal family and the Church of England. (See Abdication Crisis of Edward VIII.) This was also the first time in history that the British crown was surrendered entirely voluntarily. Richard II of England, for example, was forced to abdicate after the throne was seized by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, while Richard was out of the country.

When James II of England, after throwing the Great Seal of the Realm into the Thames, fled to France in 1688, he did not formally resign the crown, and the question was discussed in Parliament whether he had forfeited the throne or had abdicated. The latter designation was agreed upon, for in a full assembly of the Lords and Commons, met in convention, it was resolved in spite of James's protest "that King James II having endeavoured to subvert the constitution of the kingdom, by breaking the original contract between king and people, and, by the advice of Jesuits and other wicked persons, having violated the fundamental laws, and having withdrawn himself out of this kingdom, has abdicated the government, and that the throne is thereby vacant." The Scottish parliament pronounced a decree of forfeiture and deposition.

Because the title to the Crown depends upon statute, particularly the Act of Settlement 1701, a Royal Abdication can only be effected by an Act of Parliament. To give legal effect to the abdication of King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 was passed.

[edit] Modern abdications

Historically, if a monarch abdicated it was seen as a profound and shocking abandonment of royal duty. As a result, abdications usually only occurred in the most extreme circumstances of political turmoil or violence. This has changed in a small number of countries: the monarchs of the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Cambodia have abdicated as a result of old age. Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein recently made his son regent, an act which amounted to an abdication in fact if not in law.

[edit] List

The following is a list of important abdications:

Lucius Cornelius Sulla 79 BC
Diocletian AD 305
Pope Benedict IX 1048
Isaac I Comnenus 1059
Emperor Huizong of Song China January 18, 1126
Stephen II of Hungary 1131
Albert I of Brandenburg 1169
Ladislaus III of Poland 1206
Pope Celestine V December 13, 1294
John Baliol of Scotland 1296
John Cantacuzene, emperor of the East 1355
Richard II of England September 29, 1399
Baldassare Cossa, Antipope John XXIII 1415
Eric VII of Denmark or Erik XIII of Sweden 1439
Amadeus VIII of Savoy 1440
Murad II, Ottoman Sultan 1444 and 1445
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor 1 1555-1556
Christina of Sweden June 6, 1654
Mary Queen of Scots July 24, 1567
John Casimir of Poland 1668
James II of England 1688
Frederick Augustus of Poland 1706
Philip V of Spain 1724
Victor Amadeus of Sardinia 1730
Ahmed III, Ottoman Sultan 1730
Charles of Naples (on accession to throne of Spain) 1759
Stanislaus II of Poland 1795
Qianlong Emperor of China February 9, 1796
Charles Emanuel IV of Sardinia June 4, 1802
Charles IV of Spain March 19, 1808
Joseph Bonaparte of Naples June 6, 1808
Gustav IV of Sweden March 29, 1809
Louis Bonaparte of Holland July 2, 1810
Napoleon I, French Emperor April 4, 1814, and June 22, 1815
Victor Emanuel of Sardinia March 13, 1821
Charles X of France August 2, 1830
Pedro IV of Portugal 2 May 28, 1826
Pedro I of Brazil 2 April 7, 1831
Miguel of Portugal May 26, 1834
William I of the Netherlands October 7, 1840
Louis Philippe, King of the French February 24, 1848
Louis Charles of Bavaria March 21, 1848
Ferdinand of Austria December 2, 1848
Charles Albert of Sardinia March 23, 1849
Leopold II of Tuscany July 21, 1859
Isabella II of Spain June 25, 1870
Amadeus I of Spain February 11, 1873
Alexander of Bulgaria September 7, 1886
Milan of Serbia March 6, 1889
Liliʻuokalani of Hawaiʻi January 17, 1893 (monarchy abolished)
Xuantong Emperor of China February 12, 1912 (monarchy abolished)
Nicholas II of Russia March 15, 1917 (monarchy abolished)
Wilhelm II of Germany November 9, 1918 (monarchy abolished)
Prajadhipok of Siam March 2, 1935
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom December 11, 1936
Carol II of Romania September 6, 1940
Victor Emmanuel III of Italy May 9, 1946
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands September 4, 1948
Léopold III, King of the Belgians July 16, 1951
Farouk I of Egypt July 26, 1952
Talal of Jordan August 11, 1952
Fuad II of Egypt June 18, 1953 (Monarchy abolished)
Saud of Saudi Arabia November 2, 1964
Juliana of the Netherlands April 30, 1980
Jean of Luxembourg October 7, 2000
Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein3 August 15, 2004 (Made his son regent)
Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia October 7, 2004
Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah of Kuwait January 23, 2006

[edit] Notes

1Charles abdicated as lord of the Netherlands (October 25, 1555) and king of Spain (January 16, 1556), in favor of his son Philip II of Spain. Also in 1556 he separately voluntarily abdicated his German possessions and the title of Holy Roman Emperor.
2Pedro IV of Portugal and Pedro I of Brazil were the same person. He was already Emperor of Brazil when he succeeded to the throne of Portugal in 1826, but abdicated it at once in favour of his daughter Maria II of Portugal. Later he abdicated the throne of Brazil in favor of his son Pedro II.
3Hans-Adam II made his son Alois regent, effectively abdicating; however, he still remains the formal Head of State.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • Public domain 1911 edition of The New Century Book of Facts published by the King-Richardson Company, Springfield, Massachusetts.bs:Abdikacija

bg:Абдикация cs:Abdikace da:Abdikation de:Abdikation es:Abdicación eo:Abdiko fr:Abdication gl:Abdicación hr:Abdikacija id:Abdikasi nl:Abdicatie ja:退位 no:Abdikasjon nn:Abdikasjon pl:Abdykacja pt:Lista de Abdicação ru:Абдикация sk:Abdikácia sv:Abdikation zh:逊位


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