The powers of Kings are so various according to the Constitutions of several States, that no consequence can be drawn to the prejudice or advantage of any one, merely from the name.

IN opposition to what is above said, some allege the name of king, as if there were a charm in the word; and our author seems to put more weight upon it, than in the reasons he brings to support his cause. But that we may see there is no efficacy in it, and that it conveys no other right than what particular nations may annex to it, we are to consider,

1. That the most absolute princes that are or have been in the world, never had the name of king; whereas it has been frequently given to those whose powers have been very much restrained. The Caesars were never called kings, till the sixth age of Christianity: the caliphs and sultan of Egypt and Babylon, the Great Turk, the khan of Tartary, or the Great Mogul never took that name, or any other of the same signification. The czar of Muscovy has it not, tho he is as absolute a monarch, and his people as miserable slaves as any in the world. On the other side, the chief magistrates of Rome and Athens for some time, those of Sparta, Aragon, Sweden, Denmark and England, who could do nothing but by law, have been called kings. This may be enough to shew, that a name being no way essential, what title soever is given to the chief magistrate, he can have no other power than the laws and customs of his country do give, or the people confer upon him.

2. The names of magistrates are often changed, tho the power continue to be the same; and the powers are sometimes alter'd tho the name remain. When Octavius Caesar by the force of a mad corrupted soldiery had overthrown all law and right, he took no other title in relation to military affairs than that of imperator, which in the time of liberty was by the armies often given to praetors and consuls: In civil matters he was, as he pretended, content with the power of tribune;[1] and the like was observed in his successor, who to new invented usurpations gave old and approved names.[2] On the other side, those titles which have been render'd odious and execrable by the violent exercise of an absolute power, are sometimes made popular by moderate limitations; as in Germany, where, tho the monarchy seem to be as well temper'd as any, the princes retain the same names of imperator, Caesar and Augustus, as those had done, who by the excess of their rage and fury had desolated and corrupted the best part of [the] world.

Sometimes the name is changed, tho the power in all respects continue to be the same. The lords of Castile had for many ages no other title than that of count; and when the nobility and people thought good, they changed it to that of king, without any addition to the power.[3]

The sovereign magistrate in Poland was called duke till within the last two hundred years, when they gave the title of king to one of the Jagellan family; which title has continued to this day, tho without any change in the nature of the magistracy. And I presume, no wise man will think, that if the Venetians should give the name of king to their duke, it could confer any other power upon him than he has already, unless more should be conferr'd by the authority of the Great Council.

3. The same names which in some places denote the supreme magistracy, in others are subordinate or merely titular. In England, France and Spain, dukes and earls are subjects: in Germany the electors and princes who are called by those names are little less than sovereigns; and the dukes of Savoy, Tuscany, Muscovy and others, acknowledge no superior, as well as those of Poland and Castile had none, when they went under those titles. The same may be said of kings. Some are subject to a foreign power, as divers of them were subject to the Persian and Babylonian monarchs, who for that reason were called the kings of kings. Some also are tributaries; and when the Spaniards first landed in America, the great kings of Mexico and Peru had many others under them. Threescore and ten kings gathered up meat under the table of Adonibezek.[4] The Romans had many kings depending upon them. Herod and those of his race were of this number; and the dispute between him and his sons Aristobulus and Alexander was to be determined by them, neither durst he decide the matter till it was referred to him. But a right of appeal did still remain, as appears by the case of St. Paul when Agrippa was king. The kings of Mauritania from the time of Masinissa, were under the like dependence: Jugurtha went to Rome to justify himself for the death of Micipsa: Juba was commanded by the Roman magistrates Scipio, Petreius and Afranius: another Juba was made king of the same country by Augustus, and Tiridates of Armenia by Nero; and infinite examples of this nature may be alleged. Moreover, their powers are variously regulated, according to the variety of tempers in nations and ages. Some have restrained the powers that by experience were found to be exorbitant; others have dissolved the bonds that were laid upon them: and laws relating to the institution, abrogation, enlargement or restriction of the regal power, would be utterly insignificant if this could not be done. But such laws are of no effect in any other country than where they are made. The lives of the Spartans did not depend upon the will of Agesilaus or Leonidas, because Nebuchadnezzar could kill or save whom he pleased: and tho the king of Morocco may stab his subjects, throw them to the lions, or hang them upon tenterhooks; yet a king of Poland would probably be called to a severe account, if he should unjustly kill a single man.

[1] Tribunitia potestate contentus. C. Tacit. [Tacitus, Annals, bk. 1, ch. 2. His successor was Tiberius.]

[2] C. Tacit. [Ibid., bk. 4, ch. 19.]

[3] Saavedra, Mariana, Zurita. [Saavedra, Corona Gotica; Mariana, General History of Spain; Gerónimo Zurita y Castro, Anales de la Corona de Aragón (1610).]

[4] [Judges 1:7.]