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A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to
power Power typically refers to: * Power (physics), meaning "rate of doing work" ** Engine power, the power put out by an engine ** Electric power *** Solar power Power may also refer to: Mathematics, science and technology Computing * IBM Power (soft ...
, often but not always in a
monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic (crowned republic), to restricted (con ...
. In other words, a person who takes the power of a
country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or citizenship. A country may be an independent sovereign state or part of a larger state, as a non-sovereig ...
,
city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defined as a pe ...
, or established region for themselves, without any formal or legal right to claim it as their own. Usurpers can rise to power in a region by often unexpected physical force, as well as through political influence and deceit. One tactic to deter or defeat usurpation is
civilian-based defenseCivilian-based defense or social defence describes non-military action by a society or social group, particularly in a context of a sustained campaign against outside attack or dictatorial rule – or preparations for such a campaign in the event of ...
.


Etymology

The word originally came from the Latin word ''usurpare'' (“to seize", "to take forcefully" or "to use”).


Politics

The Greeks had their own conception of what a usurper was, calling them tyrants. In the ancient Greek usage, a
tyrant A tyrant (from Ancient Greek , ''tyrannos''), in the modern English usage of the word, is an absolute ruler who is unrestrained by law, or one who has usurped a legitimate ruler's sovereignty. Often portrayed as cruel, tyrants may defend th ...
(''tyrannos'' in Greek) was an individual who rose to power via unconstitutional or illegitimate means, usually not being an heir to an existing throne. Such individuals were perceived negatively by political philosophers such as
Socrates Socrates (; grc, Σωκράτης ''Sōkrátēs'' ; – 399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition ...

Socrates
,
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ''Plátōn'', in Classical Attic; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Academy, the ...

Plato
and
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic schoo ...

Aristotle
. Usurpers often try to legitimize their position by claiming to be a descendant of a ruler that they may or may not be related to.


References


Further reading

*


See also

*
Roman usurper Roman usurpers were individuals or groups of individuals who obtained or tried to obtain power by force and without legitimate legal authority. Usurpation was endemic during the Roman imperial era, especially from the crisis of the third century o ...
*
List of usurpers The following is a list of usurpers – illegitimate or controversial claimants to the throne in a monarchy. The word usurper is a derogatory term, and as such not easily definable, as the person seizing power normally will try to legitimise his p ...
* Coup d'etat *
civilian-based defenseCivilian-based defense or social defence describes non-military action by a society or social group, particularly in a context of a sustained campaign against outside attack or dictatorial rule – or preparations for such a campaign in the event of ...
Positions of authority {{gov-stub