1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Abdication

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ABDICATION (Lat. abdicatio, disowning, renouncing, from ab, from, and dicare, to declare, to proclaim as not belonging to one), the act whereby a person in office renounces and gives up the same before the expiry of the time for which it is held. In Roman law, the term is especially applied to the disowning of a member of a family, as the disinheriting of a son, but the word is seldom used except in the sense of surrendering the supreme power in a state. Despotic sovereigns are at liberty to divest themselves of their powers at any time, but it is otherwise with a limited monarchy. The throne of Great Britain cannot be lawfully abdicated unless with the consent of the two Houses of Parliament. When James II., after throwing the great seal 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 on, 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and people, and, by the advice of Jesuits and other wicked persons, having violated the fundamental laws, and having withdrawn himself out of this kingdom, has abdicated the government, and that the throne is thereby vacant.”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. Among the most memorable abdications of antiquity may be mentioned that of Sulla the dictator, 79 B.C., and that of the Emperor Diocletian, A.D. 305. The following is a list of the more important abdications of later times:—

Benedict IX., pope 1048
Stephen II. of Hungary 1131
Albert (the Bear) of Brandenburg 1169
Ladislaus III. of Poland 1206
Celestine V., pope Dec. 13, 1294
John Baliol of Scotland 1296
John Cantacuzene, emperor of the East 1355
Richard II. of England Sept. 29, 1399
John XXIII., pope 1415
Eric VII. of Denmark and XIII. of Sweden 1439
Murad II., Ottoman Sultan 1444 and 1445
Charles V., emperor 1556
Christina of Sweden 1654
John Casimir of Poland 1668
James II. of England 1688
Frederick Augustus of Poland 1704
Philip V. of Spain 1724
Victor Amadeus II. of Sardinia 1730
Ahmed III., Sultan of Turkey 1730
Charles of Naples (on accession to throne of Spain) 1759
Stanislaus II. of Poland 1795
Charles Emanuel IV. of Sardinia June 4, 1802
Charles IV. of Spain Mar. 19, 1808
Joseph Bonaparte of Naples June 6, 1808
Gustavus IV. of Sweden Mar. 29, 1809
Louis Bonaparte of Holland July 2, 1810
Napoleon I., French Emperor April 4, 1814, and June 22, 1815
Victor Emanuel of Sardinia Mar. 13, 1821
Charles X. of France Aug. 2, 1830
Pedro of Brazil[1] April 7, 1831
Miguel of Portugal May 26, 1834
William I. of Holland Oct. 7, 1840
Louis Philippe, king of the French Feb. 24, 1848
Louis Charles of Bavaria Mar. 21, 1848
Ferdinand of Austria Dec. 2, 1848
Charles Albert of Sardinia Mar. 23, 1849
Leopold II. of Tuscany July 21, 1859
Isabella II. of Spain June 25, 1870
Amadeus I. of Spain Feb. 11, 1873
Alexander of Bulgaria Sept. 7, 1886
Milan of Servia Mar. 6, 1889

  1. Pedro had succeeded to the throne of Portugal in 1826, but abdicated it at once in favour of his daughter.