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Statue of Julius Caesar in Rimini, Italy
French Emperor Napoleon I, Napoleon admired Julius Caesar and emulated him and ancient Rome. In this picture Napoleon wears a Roman-style golden laurel wreath crown (that was worn at ceremonies by Roman rulers) and holds a scepter with a Roman eagle on it.
Italian Duce Benito Mussolini standing atop a tank and making a speech to soldiers of the Italian Army.

Caesarism is a form of political rule that emulates the rule of Roman dictator Julius Caesar over the Roman Republic, in that it is led by a charismatic strongman whose rule is based upon a cult of personality, who advocates the need to rule by force, the establishment of a violent social order, and the involvement of the military in the government.[1][2] It has been used by proponents of it, but it has also been commonly used in a pejorative manner.

A so-called "democratic" form of Caesarism has been advocated by theorists like Venezuela's Laureano Vallenilla Lanz in Cesarismo Democrático (1919).[1]

[3] The most famous person who themselves espoused Caesarism, was Napoleon Bonaparte, who admired and emulated Caesar during his rule in France.[4] Italian Duce Benito Mussolini and the ideology of Italian Fascism espoused Caesarism.[5]

Benjamin Disraeli was also famously accused of Caesarism in March 1878 when, in anticipation of war with Russia, he mobilised British reserves and called Indian troops to Malta. G. K. Chesterton made one of the most ringing denunciations of Caesarism in his work Heretics, calling it "the worst form of slavery".[6]

History of the term[edit]

The first documented use of the word is in the 19th century when it was used by German historian Johannesburg Friedrich Böhmer to describe the state subordinating the Church to its control. [7]

Later in the 19th century it was used again by Auguste Romieu but it had a different meaning. Romieu defined Caesarism as the rule of military warlords.


  1. ^ a b Caesarism, Charisma, and Fate: Historical Sources and Modern Resonances in the Work of Max Weber. Transaction Publishers. 2008. p. 34. 
  2. ^ "Caesarism". The Free Dictionary. 
  3. ^ von Vacano, Diego A. (2012). The Color of Citizenship: Race, Modernity and Latin American / Hispanic Political Thought. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 83–111. ISBN 9780199746668. 
  4. ^ Weber, p. 54
  5. ^ Emilio Gentile, The Struggle for Modernity: Nationalism, Futurism, and Fascism. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishers, 2003. pp. 137–138.
  6. ^ G.K. Chesterton. "Heretics". 
  7. ^ Peter Baehr. "Caesarism, Charisma and Fate: Historical Sources and Modern Resonances in the Work of Max Weber". p. 32. 

See also[edit]