Difference Between Monarchy and Aristocracy

Monarchy vs Aristocracy

When you take both monarchy and aristocracy, you can see similarities as well as differences between both forms of government. Both, monarchy and aristocracy, are related to ruling or governing of a country or a nation. Monarchy is a form of government in which the power and the sole authority is in one or two individuals’ hands. In contrast, aristocracy is a form of government where ruling lays in the hands of few people, and these were usually considered to be the best-qualified people in the particular society. However, monarchy cannot be seen in the contemporary societies but aristocratic families are still there. Aristocracy does not only refer to a ruling party, but also certain societies regard them as the highest social class in their society.

What is Monarchy?

Monarchy, as mentioned above, is the form of government where ruling lays in the hands of one or two individuals or a single family. The word derives from a Greek term that denotes the meaning “a single ruler or a chief.” Kings’ era can be regarded as an era of monarchy. There are several classifications with regard to the monarchy. If the full authority and the decision-making power relies on one individual and if s/he has only few or no legal constraints over their power, we can see absolute monarchy there. In this case, the ruling can be done in the form of a dictatorship or an autocratic. Then there are hereditary monarchies, where the leadership is passed from one generation to another and this is inherited through family ties. In the ancient kings’ era, the kingship was passed from the father to the son and this is a good example for hereditary monarchy. Nowadays, in most societies where absolute monarchies existed, we can see constitutional monarchies. Here, the power has been limited by a constitution and a legislature and there is less or no political authority. However, monarchy is the opposite of democracy and it is very rare in contemporary world.


What is Aristocracy?

Aristocracy is also a Greek word which means “rule of the best.” This can be regarded as a class of people in a particular society who enjoys higher power over many things, compared to the general public. In some early societies, aristocracies were given the ruling power and they were regarded to be the best-qualified lot in that particular community. This ruling system was contrasted with monarchy as there was a selected group of people in the governing position. Also, some nations, who did not like the monarchies and also failed in democracies, have upheld aristocracies as the way of ruling system. For example, ancient Greek people enjoyed aristocratic ruling system.

Difference Between Monarchy and Aristocracy

On the other hand, we have the aristocratic class as well. This is a group of people in a particular society where they are considered to be the highest social class and also they possess hereditary ranks and titles from the authorities. These elites are second only to the monarchs and in early periods they might have had ruling power, as well. However, aristocratic families are seen today as well. They usually live in mansions and enjoy the prestige from the society.

What is the difference between Monarchy and Aristocracy?

When we look at both monarchy and aristocracy, we can see similarities as well as differences. Both are related to the ruling power and they had the sole authority of decision making of a nation. Monarchies and aristocracies have their roots in ancient societies, but today, they are not very common in societies.

• When we look at the differences, we can see that monarchy had one single ruler who had the power for him/herself whereas, in aristocracy, the power was shared among few selected people.

• Also, aristocracy does not enjoy the power as a monarch.


Images Courtesy: Portrait of King Edward VII and aristocrats via Wikicommons (Public Domain)