A government that lacks some sovereign power is not really a government.
Sovereignty and its implications (1)
If one person holds a sovereign power (e.g. lawmaking) and another has a different one (e.g. command of the army) there will forever be (potential or actual) conflict between them, and the state will be under threat of destruction.
The sovereign cannot share powers with someone else; mixed government is impossible (though mixed administration is not).
Sovereignty and its implications (2)
If the sovereign can be called to account (say, for exceeding the limits of his power) by another person (or assembly) then that person is really sovereign; so the sovereign is not subject to (enforceable) limits, and is not subordinate to (or accountable to) anyone;
Sovereign power is absolute and unlimited.
Sovereigns cannot be violently resisted; if someone had the right to use violence against a sovereign, that person would really be sovereign.
Humans require government; it is natural for them; the law of nature requires that people live in societies and under governments;
Governments get their powers from God/ nature, and not from the people; there is no evidence that the people ever had political power, so they could not give it to a King.
The Divine Right of Kings (and other governments)
Sovereigns are not accountable to the people; anyone who has political power derives it from the sovereign; non-resistance and passive obedience.
Divine Right theory applicable to republics as well as monarchies; the theory circulated widely in Venice (Paolo Sarpi; Interdict 1606) as well as England.
Thinkers in monarchies often argued that monarchy is the best form of government.
Paolo Sarpi, 1552-1623
Divine Right and Monarchy
Arguments for monarchy:
God rules the universe as a monarch, and not in republican/ democratic fashion.
Decisions are often contested in republics, where decision-makers have different wills and interests; conflict results; this is not so in monarchies.
Where power rests on popular election, politicians have an incentive to exploit the irrational emotions of the masses (many-headed monster: cf. Coriolanus 4:1:1-2: “the beast with many heads”).
Coriolanus (1608-9) is set against the background of mass unrest and food-rioting; anti-enclosure riots took place in several Midland counties in 1607-8; the 400th anniversary is here being celebrated at Cotesbach, Leicestershire, 23 miles from Stratford
“Down with Enclosures”
Monarchy and Indefeasible Hereditary Right
In hereditary monarchies the King has an incentive to make the state and people as prosperous as possible, to benefit his heir; in republics, people in power have an incentive to use their authority for private gain, and against the public interest.
Some but not all supporters of Divine Right Monarchy argued for indefeasible hereditary right; others thought Providence could change the succession (succession is an important issue in many of Shakespeare’s plays).
Divine Right Theory: History 01
Conflict between Pope and Holy Roman Emperor in Middle Ages; some thinkers argued for strong secular power, rejecting claim of Pope to authority over Emperor, and arguing for power of state over church/ clergy; e.g. Marsilius of Padua; William of Ockham.
Luther, Calvin, and their followers also often argued in favor of strong secular power;
Divine Right Theory: History 02
Luther violently attacked German Peasants’ Revolt 1525.
William Tyndale, The Obedience of a Christen Man (1528) stressed royal power; Anne Boleyn gave Henry VIII a copy; he liked it.
But when secular magistrates attacked Lutherans and Calvinists, they responded by arguing that greater magistrates could be resisted by lesser ones (Emperor; German princes as Spartan ephors).
Divine Right Theory: History 03
Under Mary I, some Protestant exiles published works allowing violent resistance to monarchs who were tyrants or heretics; e.g. John Ponet, A Shorte Treatise of Politike Power (1556); Christopher Goodman, How Superior Powers Oght to be Obeyd (1558); John Knox, The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (1558).
George Buchanan, De Jure Regni apud Scotos (On the Rights of the Kingdom among the Scots)(1579) argued that Scotland was a limited monarchy and justified the deposition of Queen Mary (1567).