The Role of Monarchy in the Development of the Nation Unit

The development of the nation-unit essentially requires a strong centralized governing administration that draws together the people and organizes to meet the life-needs of the people and acts as a focal point for the development of the necessary psychological unity.  Historically, this transition has been accomplished primarily by the development of a strong, central leadership around a king or monarch, under a variety of names.  Sri Aurobindo illustrates this trend with several examples:

“…the historical importance of a powerful kingship in the evolution of the nation-type, as it actually developed in mediaeval times, cannot be exaggerated.  Even in liberty-loving, insular and individualistic England, the Plantagenets and Tudors were the real and active nucleus round which the nation grew into firm form and into adult strength; and in Continental countries the part played by the Capets and their successors in France, by the House of Castile in Spain and by the Romanoffs and their predecessors in Russia is still more prominent. …  And even in modern times, the almost mediaeval role played by the Hohenzollerns in the unification and growth of Germany was watched with an uneasy astonishment by the democratic peoples to whom such a phenomenon was no longer intelligible and seemed hardly to be serious. … In the new formation of Japan into a nation of the modern type the Mikado played a similar role; the instinct of the renovators brought him out of his helpless seclusion to meet this inner need.  The attempt of a brief dictatorship in revolutionary China to convert itself into a new national monarchy may be attributed quite as much to the same feeling in a practical mind as to mere personal ambition.  It is a sense of this great role played by the kingship in centralising and shaping national life at the most critical stage in its growth which explains the tendency common in the East and not altogether absent from the history of the West to invest it with almost sacred character; it explains also the passionate loyalty with which great national dynasties or their successors have been served even in the moment of their degeneration and downfall.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part One, Chapter 13, The Formation of the Nation-Unit — The Three Stages, pp. 108-110

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