Monarchy: Provincial Governors

In trying to work out the structure of a constitutional monarchy with an established Christian church, a mixed government that promotes human liberty, I’m trying also to maintain something akin to American fœderalism, with central and provincial governments ruling separately in each its own field (outside the scope of this treatment, necessarily, is if a king holds multiple realms). To this end, it’s important that provincial parliaments, not the national Parliament, make laws for the provinces. The matter of provincial governors, however, is more complex. The choice I favour surprises me, but in the interest of truth I must present it frankly.

Most obvious for an American is the possibility of popularly elected provincial governors, as each state has in the U.S. This way of doing things, however, defeats the purpose of a Christian monarchy. Against the notion of popular sovereignty, Christian kingship says that authority on earth comes not from an abstract and mythical Will of the People but from what Confucians call the Mandate of Heaven. Just as a father’s authority comes not from the delegation of individual sovereignty but from the law of nature, so too does a king (and equally a church elder) take both the imperium and the duties of his rule not from the election of his subjects but from the election of God, not from popular opinion but from the rule of law. Under God, the king is at once responsible to the laws of his fathers and vested with authority not mediated by the people; deriving his authority from God through the laws of the nation, he need not be popularly elected. And in a fœderal polity, to have hereditary kingship on the national level and popular sovereignty on the provincial level is an unacceptable inconsistency, sending a mixed message on the source of civil authority.

Also known to those familiar with modern monarchies is the idea of viceroys, or lieutenants-general, who serve at the king’s pleasure. While this system doesn’t share the weakness of governors popularly elected, I find it unattractive as well. In particular, even when checked by the power of the provincial parliament, and even when counterbalanced by an episcopacy that commands respect, the viceroy system has (except in newly acquired territories not represented in the national Parliament) too great a centralizing tendency, beholden to either the king or the national Parliament, a mark of monarchical or popular tyranny. Considering it a misstep to blur the lines between the national and provincial governments, and a virtue to respect local traditions and institutions, I favour a third way.

This third way, tending to foster the growth of local power bases and to defer to heritage over popularity, is for provinces to be headed by dukes and counts (each duke and count ruling no more than two fiefs), each county corresponding to one ecclesiastical diocese and each duchy to several. These nobles, like the kings, will forfeit the right to rule if they forsake the laws that they pledge to uphold, in which case they may be impeached and deposed. For just as God loves the elect only as his demand for justice is satisfied, so too are the oaths of rulership higher than a ruler’s right to rule, as much for the nobles as for the king. When these nobles have the duty to administer justice in their inherited fiefs but can also be deposed by their parliaments, they will be less seduced by the glory of a king like Louis XVI.

Edit: Ironic that I post this the day that the Xinhai Revolution started. Happy birthday, Republic of China.

Advertisements

2 responses to “Monarchy: Provincial Governors

  1. Really good stuff here (I am a monarchist in America).

    • Another monarchist in America! In a country that having won its independence from a king and his Parliament proceeded to become an egalitarian democratic republic (though the republic’s now also disintegrating), I expect to get certain weird, awkward looks upon revealing my monarchist views. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by people’s openness to such a strange position.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s