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This article is part of the
series on Politics
Political philosophy
aristocracy, autocracy,
democracy, despotism,
monarchy, oligarchy,
plutocracy, theocracy
and tyranny.

Despotism is government by a singular authority, either a single person or tightly knit group, which rules with absolute power. The word implies tyrannical rule; it suggests a form of government which exercises exacting and near-absolute control over all of its citizens.

A related term is benevolent despotism, which refers specifically to a form of rulership that came to prominence in the 18th century. In this instance, the absolute monarchs ruling certain nations used their authority to institute a number of reforms in the political and social structures of their countries. This movement was probably largely triggered by the ideals of the Enlightenment.

External link

  • Dictionary of the History of Ideas: despotism

See Also

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Last updated: 02-08-2005 15:58:50
Last updated: 02-11-2005 17:47:38