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quotations about kings

What are kings, when regiment is gone,
But perfect shadows in a sunshine day?


The greatest slave in a kingdom is generally the king of it.

FULKE GREVILLE, Maxims, Characters, and Reflections

I was much an enemy to monarchies before I came to Europe. I am ten thousand times more so, since I have seen what they are. There is scarcely an evil known in these countries, which may not be traced to their king, as its source, nor a good, which is not derived from the small fibres of republicanism existing among them.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to General Washington, May 2, 1788

All kings is mostly rapscallions.

MARK TWAIN, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

What the devil's a king but a man, or a queen but a woman?

MAXWELL ANDERSON, Elizabeth the Queen

All kings are foes of all the men they rule.


This principle is old, but true as fate, Kings may love treason, but the traitor hate.

THOMAS DEKKER, The Honest Whore

War's a game, which, were their subjects wise, Kings would not play at.


Kings ought never to be seen upon the stage. In the abstract, they are very disagreeable characters: it is only while living that they are 'the best of kings'. It is their power, their splendour, it is the apprehension of the personal consequences of their favour or their hatred that dazzles the imagination and suspends the judgement of their favourites or their vassals; but death cancels the bond of allegiance and of interest; and seen AS THEY WERE, their power and their pretensions look monstrous and ridiculous.

WILLIAM HAZLITT, Characters of Shakespeare's Plays

Power makes you a monarch, and all the fancy robes in the world won't do the job without it.

LAURELL K. HAMILTON, Narcissus in Chains

If the king is pious, the subjects become so; but if the king is vicious, the subjects become the same. If he be indifferent to both (virtue and vice), then they too bear the same character. In short, as is the king so are his subjects.

CHANAKYA, Vridda-Chanakya

No race of kings has ever presented above one man of common sense in twenty generations.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to Benjamin Hawkins, Aug. 4, 1787

By justice a king gives a country stability.


To know nor faith, nor love, nor law, to be
Omnipotent but friendless, is to reign.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, Prometheus Unbound

Courtiers don't take wagers against the king's skill. There is the deadly danger of winning.

ISAAC ASIMOV, Foundation

When kings the sword of justice first lay down,
They are no kings, though they possess the crown.
Titles are shadows, crowns are empty things,
The good of subjects is the end of kings.

DANIEL DEFOE, The True-Born Englishman

Once a king ... it was impossible, without risk of life, to sink to a private station.

MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT SHELLEY, The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck

It is better to be without a king than [to have] a bad one.

CHANAKYA, Vridda-Chanakya

Man said, "I am tired of kings!
Sons of the robber-chiefs of yore,
They make me pay for their lust and their war;
I am the puppet, they pull the strings;
The blood of my heart is the wine they drink.
I will govern myself for awhile I think,
And see what that brings!"

HENRY VAN DYKE, "Remarks About Kings"

Kings are not born: they are made by universal hallucination.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Maxims for Revolutionists

Royalty is the most wretched condition imaginable; for there is no possibility of setting one's self free from it, since how can any sovereign command sufficient resources to make restitution of property to those from whom he has taken it, or how can he make atonement in bonds to those whom he has cast into prison, or how can he offer a sufficient number of lives to die for those whom he has put to death?


A king is a mortal god on earth, unto whom the living God hath lent his own name as a great honour; but withal told him, he should die like a man, lest he should be proud, and flatter himself that God hath with his name imparted unto him his nature also.

JOHN LOCKE, "Of a King", The Conduct of the Understanding: Essays, Moral, Economical, and Political

A king may be a tool, a thing of straw; but if he serves to frighten our enemies, and secure our property, it is well enough: a scarecrow is a thing of straw, but it protects the corn.

ALEXANDER POPE, "Thoughts on Various Subjects"

With ravished ears
The monarch hears;
Assumes the god,
Affects the nod,
And seems to shake the spheres.

JOHN DRYDEN, Alexander's Feast

Kings are like stars — they rise and set, they have
The worship of the world, but no repose.


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