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Voluntary or forced renunciation of sovereign power / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Abdication is the act of formally relinquishing monarchical authority. Abdications have played various roles in the succession procedures of monarchies. While some cultures have viewed abdication as an extreme abandonment of duty, in other societies (such as pre-Meiji Restoration Japan), abdication was a regular event and helped maintain stability during political succession.

A painting showing a crowded room in which a uniformed man hands a sheaf of papers to another uniformed man while in the background a weeping woman sits in an armchair holding a young boy before whom a woman kneels
Dom Pedro I, founder and emperor of the Empire of Brazil, delivers his abdication letter on 7 April 1831
Napoleon's first abdication, signed at the Palace of Fontainebleau 4 April 1814

Historically, abdications have occurred both by force (where the regnant was forced to abdicate on pain of death or other severe consequences) and voluntarily. Some rulers are deemed to have abdicated in absentia, vacating the physical throne and thus their position of power, although these judgements were generally pronounced by successors with vested interests in seeing the throne abdicated, and often without or despite the direct input of the abdicating monarch.

Recently, due to the largely ceremonial nature of the regnant in many constitutional monarchies, many monarchs have abdicated due to old age, such as the monarchs of Spain, Cambodia, the Netherlands and Japan.