Missing Monarchy: Correcting Misconceptions About The Middle Ages, Medieval Kingship, Democracy, And Liberty


When you think about democracy, what images and ideals spring to mind? Do you feel fortunate to be free from the oppression typically associated with a medieval monarch? But what if it were demonstrated with evidence that the democracy you cherish is not only less ideal than you’ve been led to believe, but actually pales in comparison to the governance of the Middle Ages?

Prepare yourself for an enlightening historical exploration in Jeb Smith’s latest book, Missing Monarchy. This work reveals startling truths about the Medieval period, exploring the dynamics of kingship, democracy, and more. As you delve into how societies in the past managed their governance, you might start to question whether our current system is truly the pinnacle of political achievement. Discovering how power is actually exercised in our modern democracy might even leave you with a newfound appreciation for the monarchy of old.


In his provocatively titled book, “Missing Monarchy: Correcting Misconceptions About The Middle Ages, Medieval Kingship, Democracy, and Liberty” Jeb Smith embarks on a rigorous and ambitious reassessment of historical narratives surrounding governance forms, particularly contrasting monarchy with democracy. Through a meticulously argued discourse, Smith challenges the prevailing misconceptions and romanticized visions of democracy that dominate contemporary American thought.

Smith posits that Americans suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of monarchy, heavily influenced by a history written by the victors who favour democratic forms of governance. He argues that the true nature of historical monarchy—especially its medieval European form—has been obscured by a combination of distortions, exaggerations, and outright falsehoods propagated through both academic and popular cultures. The book delves deeply into the medieval period, demonstrating that monarchies of the time were often more decentralized and offered more personal liberties than modern democratic states.

A significant portion of the book is devoted to a critique of democracy. Smith is particularly scathing about the modern democratic state, which he argues, monopolizes power and restricts individual freedoms under the guise of popular control. By comparing medieval monarchies to the present-day democratic systems, he suggests that the former, with its emphasis on legal traditions and localized governance, actually provided a more robust framework for personal liberty and societal stability.

Smith explores the legal and social structures of the Middle Ages, highlighting how feudal systems functioned under monarchies to ensure a balance of power between various societal levels. He argues that these structures were inherently more just and equitable, as they were deeply rooted in local customs and laws that respected the rights and duties of all members of society.

Throughout the book, Smith advocates for a reevaluation of current political structures, suggesting that a return to some form of monarchy—or at least a governance system that learns from the merits of historical monarchies—could solve many contemporary political and social issues. He discusses how modern democracies could benefit from adopting principles such as decentralization, legal continuity, and the primacy of community-based over state-based solutions.

“Missing Monarchy” is both scholarly and provocative, filled with extensive references to historical sources and modern analyses. Smith’s arguments are well-researched and compellingly presented, making the book a significant contribution to political and historical discourse. However, the book’s overt bias against democracy as it currently exists may not sit well with all readers, particularly those more inclined towards liberal democratic ideologies.

Jeb Smith’s “Missing Monarchy” challenges readers to question deeply held beliefs about governance and the nature of power. It is a thoughtful, well-argued, and timely critique of democracy through the lens of historical monarchy, providing a fresh perspective on what governance could look like if informed by the past. The book is recommended for those interested in political theory, history, and critiques of modern governance systems.

Missing Monarchy: Correcting Misconceptions About The Middle Ages, Medieval Kingship, Democracy, And Liberty
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 4.8 stars
Publication Date: June 6, 2024


Jeb Smith

Jeb Smith

Jeb Smith is the author of four books to date, the most recent being Missing Monarchy: Correcting Misconceptions About The Middle Ages, Medieval Kingship, Democracy, And Liberty. Before that, he wrote and published Middle-earth Lore: Tolkien’s Legends Revealed and another book on J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, and also authored Defending Dixie’s Land: What Every American Should Know About The South And The Civil War, written under the name Isaac C. Bishop. Smith has authored multiple articles on various blogs and websites, including History is Now Magazine and Medieval History.


  • Smith, J. J. (2024). Missing Monarchy: Correcting misconceptions about the Middle Ages, medieval kingship, democracy, and liberty. Lloyd R. Hedberg Jr. (Ed.).


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