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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Majesty is an English word derived ultimately from the Latin Maiestas, meaning Greatness.

Origin

Originally, during the Roman republic, the word maiestas was the legal term for the supreme status and dignity of the state, to be respected above everything else. This was crucially defined by the existence of a specific crime, called laesa maiestatis, literally "Violated Majesty" (in English law Lese majesty, via the French Lèse-majesté), consisting of the violation of this supreme status. Various acts such as celebrating a party on a day of public mourning, contempt of the various rites of the state and disloyalty in word or act were punished as crimes against the majesty of the republic. However, later, under the Empire, it came to mean an offence against the dignity of the Emperor. Even indirect actions such as paying for a service in a brothel with a coin bearing the portrait of the emperor could be punished as an act against this "maiestas".

The style of a head of state

After the fall of Rome, Majesty was used to describe a monarch of the very highest rank - indeed, it was generally applied to God. The title was then also assumed by monarchs of great powers as an attempt at self-praise and despite a supposed lower royal style as a King or Queen, who would thus often be called "His or Her Royal Majesty." The style has come to be used by all the royal heads of Europe.

Variations, such as "Catholic Majesty" (Spain) or "Britannic Majesty" (United Kingdom) are often used in diplomatic settings where there otherwise may be ambiguity (see a list).

Imperial heads (i.e. Emperors) may use "Imperial Majesty".

Princely and ducal heads usually use "His Highness" or some variation thereof (e.g. "His Serene Highness"). In British practice, heads of princely states in the British Empire are referred to as Highness.

In monarchies not following the European tradition, the head may be styled in English as "Majesty" whether or not he is formally titled "King", as is the case in certain countries in Africa and Asia.

The United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, several derivatives of Majesty have been or are used, either to distinguish the British sovereign from continental kings and queens or as further exalted forms of address for the monarch in official documents or the most formal situations.

Most Gracious Majesty is only used in the most formal of occasions. Around 1519 King Henry VIII decided Majesty should become the style of the sovereign of England. "Majesty", however, was not used exclusively; it arbitrarily alternated with both "Highness" and "Grace", even in official documents. For example, one legal judgement issued by Henry VIII uses all three indiscriminately; Article 15 begins with "the Kinges Highness hath ordered," Article 16 with "the Kinges Majestie" and Article 17 with "the Kinges Grace."

In pre-Union Scotland Sovereigns were only addressed as Your Grace. During the reign of James I & VI, Majesty became the official style, to the exclusion of others. In full, the Sovereign is still referred to as "His (or Her) Most Gracious Majesty", actually a merger of both the Scottish Grace and the English Majesty.

Britannic Majesty is the style used for the monarch and the crown in diplomacy, the law of nations, and international relations. For example, in the Mandate for Palestine of the League of Nations, it was His Britannic Majesty who was designated as the Mandatory for Palestine. Britannic Majesty is famously used in all British Passports, where the following sentence is used:

Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

Most Excellent Majesty is mainly used in Acts of Parliament, where the phrase "The King's (or Queen's) Most Excellent Majesty" is used in the enacting clause. The standard is as follows:

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's [King's] most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MAJESTY (Fr. majeste; Lat. majestas, grandeur, greatness, from the base mag-, as in magnus, great, major, greater, &c.), dignity, greatness, a term especially used to express the dignity and power of a sovereign. This application is to be traced to the use of majestas in Latin to express the supreme sovereign dignity of the Roman state, the majestas reipublicae or populi Romani, hence majestatem laedere or minuere, was to commit high treason, crimen majestatis. (For the modern law and usage of laesa majestas, lese majest y, Majestatsbeleidigung, see Treason.) From the republic majestas was transferred to the emperors, and the majestas populi Romani became the majestas imperil, and augustalis majestas is used as a term to express the sovereign person of the emperor. Honorius and Theodosius speak of themselves in the first person as nostra majestas. The term " majesty " was strictly confined in the middle ages to the successors of the Roman emperors in the West, and at the treaty of Cambrai (1529) it is reserved for the emperor Charles V. Later the word is used of kings also, and the distinction is made between imperial majesty (caesareana majestas) and kingly or royal majesty. From the 16th century dates the application of " Most Christian and Catholic Majesty " to the kings of France, of " Catholic Majesty " to the kings of Spain, of " Most Faithful Majesty " to the kings of Portugal, and " Apostolic Majesty " to the kings of Hungary. In England the use is generally assigned to the reign of Henry VIII., but it is found, though not in general usage, earlier; thus the New English Dictionary quotes from an Address of the Kings Clerks to Henry II. in 1171 (Materials for the History of Archbishop Becket, vii. 471, Rolls Series, 1885), where the king is styled vestra majestas, and Selden (Titles of Honour, part i. ch. 7, p. 98, ed. 1672) finds many early uses in letters to Edward I., in charters of creation of peers, &c. The fullest form in English usage is " His Most Gracious"Majesty "; another form is " The King's Most Excellent Majesty," as in the English Prayer-book. " His Sacred Majesty " was common in the 17th century; and of this form Selden says: " It is true, I think, that in our memory or the memory of our fathers, the use of it first began in England." " His Majesty," abbreviated H.M., is now the universal European use in speaking of any reigning king, and " His Imperial Majesty," H.I.M., of any reigning emperor.

From the particular and very early use of " majesty " for the glory and splendour of God, the term has been used in ecclesiastical art of the representation of God the Father enthroned in glory, sometimes with the other persons of the Trinity, and of the Saviour alone, enthroned with an aureole.


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also majesty

Contents

English

Etymology

From Middle English maieste, mageste, from Old French majeste, from Latin māiestās, derived from Proto-Indo-European *maǵ-yos- (greater), from *maǵ-, *meǵ- (great).

Pronunciation

Pronoun

Majesty (Majesties )

  1. a term of address for royalty and imperiality
    His/Her/Your Majesty

Usage notes

A king or queen is usually styled "Your Majesty" or "Your Royal Majesty", although in earlier times other forms were used, such as "Your Grace". An emperor or empress is styled "Your Imperial Majesty".

Occasionally other variations are used. The queen of Great Britain is sometimes called "Her Britannic Majesty"; the King and Queen of Spain "Their Most Catholic Majesties"; the King of Hawai'i "His Oceanic Majesty".

Related terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.







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