personal union

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In the political sense, calque of German persönliche Vereinigung (attributed to German jurist Johann Stephan Pütter, 1777).


personal union (countable and uncountable, plural personal unions)

  1. (politics, historical) The situation of two or more states sharing the same monarch, usually also with shared dynastic succession.
    The United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, also known variously as the United Kingdoms, Sweden and Norway or Sweden–Norway, was a personal union of the separate kingdoms of Sweden and Norway under a common monarch and common foreign policy that lasted from 1814 until its peaceful dissolution in 1905.
    Many personal unions were ended by differences in the monarchies' rules of dynastic succession, while disputes thereabout lead to dynastic wars.
    The Congo Free State was an independent kingdom in central Africa in personal union with Belgium under King Leopold.
    • 1895, William Edward Hall, A Treatise on International Law, 4th Edition, The Clarendon Press, page 26,
      A personal union exists, as in the instance of linked by Great Britain and Hanover from 1714 to 1837, when two states, distinct in every respect, are ruled by the same prince; and they are properly regarded as wholly independent persons who merely happen to employ the same agent for a particular class of purposes, and who are in no way bound by or responsible for each others' acts.
    • 2004, Jeremy Black, The Hanoverians, Hambledon and London, page 22,
      Personal unions were scarcely new in British history. From 1066, England had been linked to parts of France under the Norman and then the Plantagenet dynasties. The accession of James VI to the English throne began a personal union that was not extended to a parliamentary union until 1707, while, under William III (1689-1702), the position of the house of Orange in Dutch politics was extended to Britain. Personal unions were also common on the Continent: for the eighteenth century, the list would include those of Poland and Saxony, Sweden and Hesse-Cassel, Russia and Holstein-Gottorp, and Denmark and Oldenburg.
  2. (theology, Christian theology) Hypostatic union; the union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one individual existence (person).



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