In European history, the divine right of kings is a political doctrine that supports the monarchical absolutism, which stated that kings got their authority and power from God. That is why they cannot be responsible for any of their actions and by any authority such as a parliament.


The divine-right theory that appeared in Europe can be traced to the medieval concept of God’s retribution for temporary power to a political ruler, in parallel with the awarding of church spiritual power. However, by the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the new national monarchs started claiming their authority in matters of both the state and the church. James I, King of England (reigned 1603–1625), was the chief representative of the divine right theory, but after the Glorious Revolution (1688–1689), this doctrine practically disappeared from English politics. At the end of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some kings of France continued to benefit from the divine-right theory, although many of them no longer truly believed in it. After the American Revolution (1775–1783), the French Revolution (1789), and the Napoleonic Wars, the doctrine lost most of the remaining trust.

One of the main French theorists of the divine right, Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet (1627–1704), claimed that the personality and the authority of the king were sacred. He also said that the king’s power was modelled after the God’s power and was absolute, and that the king was guided by reason.

This divine-right theory can be dangerous for the church and the state. For the state, this implies that secular power is granted and therefore can be taken by the church. As for the church, it means that kings are directly related to God and, therefore, can be dictated to church rulers.