Teaching Students About the Divine Rights of Kings

The concept of the divine rights of kings has been a significant aspect of history, and teaching students about this topic will not only help them better understand the past but also evaluate the foundations of modern governance. This article intends to explore different methods and approaches to effectively educate students on this vital historical subject.

1. Contextualize the Concept

Begin by placing the divine rights of kings within its historical context. Explain to students that this idea was particularly relevant during the Middle Ages, when monarchs saw their rule as being derived directly from God’s will. Draw comparisons to other forms of governance throughout history, such as democracy and dictatorship, allowing students to contrast different political ideologies.

2. Explore Key Figures and Events

Introduce prominent figures who were ardent proponents or opponents of the divine rights of kings. Discuss individuals such as King James I, King Louis XIV, and Thomas Hobbes, highlighting their beliefs and contributions to the development or critique of this idea. Additionally, connect these figures with critical events in history like the English Civil War and The Glorious Revolution.

3. Analyze Primary Sources

Incorporate primary sources into your lessons, such as excerpts from Hobbes’ “Leviathan,” King James I’s “The Trew Law of Free Monarchies,” or John Locke’s “Two Treatises on Government.” Encourage students to analyze these texts critically, assessing perceived intentions, societal implications, and long-term effects.

4. Relate Concepts to Modern-Day Governance

Invite students to examine contemporary examples of political systems that might still incorporate elements of divine rights. Discuss current monarchies like Saudi Arabia or Thailand and how these systems differ from those based on democratic principles. This can promote a better understanding of varied governance styles today.

5. Engage in Debates and Discussions

Organize debates around whether or not the divine rights of kings were justified or legitimate forms of governance. Let students express their agreements or disagreements with the concept and its implications. Use these opportunities to foster critical thinking and dialogue about governance models, both historically and in the present day.


Teaching students about the divine rights of kings can be an engaging and informative process. By incorporating historical context, key figures, primary sources, and contemporary examples, you will give students a comprehensive understanding of this complex topic that shaped much of our world’s political history.

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