Devaluation of the Divine Right of Kings
Engraving of Elizabeth I: 33K
Engraving of Elizabeth1

The Devaluation of the Divine Right: Power Sharing

Shakespeare, writing only decades prior to the Gunpowder Plot in his play Macbeth, demonstrates that despite the development of the monarchy from pre-historic times, the mystical aura of the king, for which the people gave power, was still important to the man in the street.
This arrangement works well for the ruler of a small land and of a unified cultural group content to remain within its bounds. However, it is severely stressed as the Divine provider and warrior ruler goes beyond the bounds of the group to the domination of or negotiation with other Divine warriors, other groups and other territories to become a warlord of a large state. The nobles assisted the king by providing power on the ground which was supported by tradition in their estates and lands.
The efficient maintenance of control over culturally diverse groups is not brought about by constant warfare. Even when the local rulers were defeated, as in Ireland by Henry VIII, it was recognized that due to their traditional mandates, it was best to have them swear allegiance and remain in power. Control was most effectively maintained by the sharing of power, by the ruler with other rulers. Perhaps the height of the development of this form of power brokering came during the reign of Elizabeth I.
In exchange for status and conspicuous power in the capital and proximity to the divine ruler local rulers, generally heads of old families, both Catholic and Protestant, assisted Elizabeth in the maintenance of control over and efficient exploitation of subject regions. As part of the arrangement the ruler lost a share of decision making power. This strategy efficiently brought in and increased revenues and ensured the continuation of the centralization of government, but it tended to weaken rulers ability to command absolute power.
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