A monarchy is a form of government wherein a sovereign ruler makes decisions for the state. Monarchies were typically hereditary, although the specifics varied by country; the usual process was that the eldest male child, or nearest male relative if the incumbent was childless, replaced their predecessor following their death, though this would sometimes lead to conflicts between claimants seeking the throne. When no male heir was apparent, it would usually move to the eldest female heir. It was the most common form of government for most of human history.
During and after the Renaissance, many began questioning the logic of national decisions being made at the whim of a single individual—an absolute monarchy. England overthrew its monarchy, only to re-establish it as a constitutional monarchy years later. The American and French Revolutions both divided their countries between those who advocated a republic, where rulers were democratically elected, and those like the Marquis de Lafayette, who advocated a constitution where the monarch's decisions were limited by law, or a continuation of the norm. In both instances, the monarchy was completely overthrown.