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Despotism, absolute government by one person who rules without any constitutional controls. A despot need not necessarily be a tyrant. Indeed, in the 18th century, the concept of “benevolent” or “enlightened” despotism came into fashion. The theory was that people were not capable of governing themselves and needed a ruler who would look after their interests. Frederick the Great of Prussia considered himself an enlightened despot.

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21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Davis, Henry Gassaway to Diamond