At the turn of the twentieth century, the greater part of the world was ruled by hereditary monarchies. The next fifty years, however, saw the fall of the Hapsburgs, the Hohenzollerns, the Romanovs, the House of Savoy and the Qing Dynasty. As such, the British Crown stands as the most important example of monarchy in the world today - and the oldest.
Lord Blake traces the complex history of monarchies, examining notions of heredity and the characteristics that make a 'good' monarch.
This is the 1984 Gresham Special Lecture.