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This country has a long line of female rulers going back since its inception. Due to a divine connection with the goddess, only queens can inherit the throne, and rules as both leader of the nation and the country's religion. As head of the faith, she rules with "absolute authority". However, this does not translate into political power. She does not rule directly, but elects a regent to rule in her stead. He handles governmental affairs, enforcing the law, etc. While the queen is the reigning monarch, her powers are limited to religious and cultural affairs. Men are still considered the breadwinners in society, and dominate in all matters that run the country.

To my knowledge, most gods start off as feminine dieties in civilizations. When males eventually come to power, which is usually assumed to be a result of male hunters "unionizing" against the usually female gatherers, the new masculine gods are created to legitimize their authority. Logically, a regent would realize that he has real authority and power, and can size the throne with the military. Then he can install himself as ruler with all the divine right that comes with it, creating a tradition of the "Divine right of kings". Men would control both society and religion.

What would prevent this from happening?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Mołot, JohnWDailey, Alexander von Wernherr, kingledion, GerardFalla Nov 2 '18 at 15:15

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ "Most gods start off as feminine dieties in civilizations": citation needed. I don't know of any god who is known to have been a goddess once upon a time. And your society, as described, does not have a female ruler; a ruler rules, whereas your monarchess does not. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Nov 1 '18 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ Is the goddess real or does the queen have any supernatural powers? $\endgroup$ – John Nov 2 '18 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ Does she have the power to choose a new regent? $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Nov 2 '18 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ You may want to revisit your understanding of early man's sexual division of labor. There's a large body of evidence that suggests that the modern view of a male-hunter, female-gatherer society is biased and wrong. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 2 '18 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ Aren't "patriarchal" and "female rulers" fundamentally opposed? $\endgroup$ – eques Nov 12 '18 at 16:32
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Act of God(dess)

It isn't stated outright in this question - is the goddess to which the queen has a connection fictional?

If the deity in question isn't a myth, the solution is simple - historically, any time a male ruler tried to short-circuit the hierarchy, lightning struck them dead out of a clear blue sky. Or they were eaten alive by ants. Or they spontaneously turned inside out. Something well-represented in a fresco or stained-glass window.

That'd have something of a chilling effect on future attempts to declare divine authority.

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    $\begingroup$ Even if the deity isn't real, there may be some real task that the Queen and Priestesses carry out that keeps the Country or Capital safe/prosperous that the men don't know about: "To keep the wild beasts away, we need to spread this special mixture around the city. With the Queen dead and usurped, we can spread this mixture to attract them instead, and invoke the Goddess's Wrath until the High Priestess is made the new Queen" $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Nov 2 '18 at 9:04
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Hunter-Gatherer societies are most often highly egalitarian, so I don't know where the idea of male hunters 'unionising' against female gatherers comes from. I suspect it is a 'just-so' story.

Stratification of society along gender or class lines isn't really seen until a population becomes agrarian, at which point whomever can control a vital resource, such as water or stored food, can install themselves as ruler.

There are examples of bifurcated leadership in a variety of cultures, such as that of the Tongan Maritime Empire, where there was one ruler or military affairs, and another of spiritual affairs.

If the religious doctrine states that the spiritual leader must be female, there is going to be a lot of pushback against any male who attempts to usurp that position. Including from amongst his own ranks. If people genuinely believe what the priests tell them, that the high-priestess/queen must always be female for the sake of their eternal souls/to avoid droughts/to keep demons away etc., those beliefs are going to be hard to shake.

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It sounds like the risk vs. reward wouldn't be worth it for any given regent. Why attempt a risky coup that involves re-writing the local religion when you're already the de-facto ruler?

Risk

Simply declaring divine right to rule won't guarantee everyone goes along with it. Strong faith, especially built on a long history, can survive a lot before it changes. In addition, in any power grab there are going to be multiple people who are on the losing side, and would have incentive to argue and fight for religious tradition and prevent the take-over.

Reward

The regent is already the de-facto ruler and probably the most powerful person in the land. History is rife with examples of how being a religious and cultural leader tends to fall fall short of influence compared to the political and military leader. Why risk anything for a likely tiny amount of additional power.

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As a truce or détente between the men

Men are by nature aggressive and ambitious, and more than a few times in history a lawfully-chosen male leader has turned into a tyrant and turned his power against the citizens or aristocrats who originally gave him power. Some enlightened societies in history have created traditions or covenants to try to prevent this. In ancient Athens, for example, they practiced ostracism for a time. In that tradition, the men of the city voted on the names of public figures who were becoming too popular, and if any name received too many votes, he was exiled from the city lest he grow into a tyrant. The key to this kind of agreement is that the men agree to limit their own ambitions in exchange for limiting the ambitions of their rivals.

In your fictional world, the tradition of a female ruler (figurehead or otherwise) may be something that was decided by the men in the wake of some terrible tyranny. Seeing that a male ruler might turn against the very allies who put him into power, the men may have agreed to outlaw any male ruler in the future. The agreement would be that if any male declared his intentions to rule, all the others would unite forces against him. Over the centuries this tradition would be cemented and the reason why there could be no male rulers would be so obvious and well-known -- i.e., that male rulers easily became tyrants -- that it would take on the authority of the ancient philosophers' understandings of human nature which we rarely question today.

An alternative trigger might be something like the death of Alexander, when his empire was split into four parts by his four generals. They might have set up a détente based on a female figurehead emperor to prevent any one from dominating the others.

This probably fits best with a relatively decentralized society, like a feudal society, where the female "ruler" in fact only has power over her own fief or city-state, possibly the largest or the capital city but still only one of many, and her job is not so much to "unite the clans" as to keep them from completely uniting. There would instead be a lot of ever-changing small-scale alliances and rivalries. Thus it is still a "patriarchal system" as per your question -- men mostly rule the cities or tribes or feudal fiefs, except the central one, which is a special case.

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The divine connection is the answer

As you said in your question, the divine connection to a goddess. This has to be worth something to the community as a whole, and it is something that the queen can withhold if a man tries to overthrow her. She should also be able to reassign her regent if one displeases her (at great religious disgrace to the man).

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Take a country like England. A few female queens who ruled (vs queens married to the king) over the centuries. The monarchy doesn't have much power now in England, but it did in Victoria's time and most definitely in Elizabeth I's. These women had real power, no question about it (and no need to make up theories that the men in their lives did all the real work). Yet they lived in patriarchal societies where the average woman had almost no rights.

"Breadwinner" isn't an issue, as women worked then and they work now. And in a non-modern country, a lot of the work was not taking care of the home and family so the man could work (though some was), but actual occupations that would bring the family money (or pay tithes, etc), often as a family farm or business.

Did people try to steal the throne from a monarch? For sure. But it wasn't gender based. It wasn't men trying to take over from women. Or vice versa. It was individuals trying to gain power. Think Mary Queen of Scots vs Elizabeth I (though that was quite a complex situation).

People generally do not challenge how a society is set up. Its philosophical underpinnings. They may try to carve out more exceptions, or chip away at the rules, but it's pretty rare to see a complete upheaval. Even if this is something your modern self is sure you would do in that situation. You likely wouldn't.

If the monarchy is through matriarchal decent but the society is patriarchal, then that's how it is. It's not impossible for a group of people to change things, but it's very very hard and almost no one makes a serious attempt that goes anywhere. It can take centuries to make large changes like that, even if they're things our modern society would never tolerate. Like the system of slavery in the American south. Centuries.

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I think the world you describe is actually more divided along gender lines than the real world, which is rather surprising given history. As such, it seems reasonable to have the system to keep your queen's power via stereotypical gender approaches.

The queen elects a male regent. The male regent understands with all certainty that the queen is capable of declaring that having sexual intercourse with him is a moral sin, punished by eternal damnation.

Now we have moved the marker. Instead of being "queen vs. regent," we have "religion vs. government." It is up to you to define what a religion which supports "absolute authority" vested in the queen figure looks like, and whether the religion will survive.

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The queen is more of a symbol, or a priestess blessing the actual ruler, or a "sacred animal" used to maintain connection with the God. Finally, queen could be used to give the gray masses the illusion that they are ruled by a kind Godess.

Ancient Egypt had supreme power passed from queen to her daugher, so pharaos started marrying their sisters to keep the power in the family.

Queen Victoria in England has apparently consulted a lot with her husband and other male advisers.

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