Faisal, second surviving son of King Abd el-Aziz, was proclaimed King of Sa'udi Arabia on November 2, 1964, and has thus passed his first official anniversary. It is true that he governed in reality during a considerable part of the reign of his older brother, Sa'ud, whose aptitudes for government were limited, but there is a difference between power wielded in the name of another and power exercised by sovereign right.
Islamic countries have never adhered to any strict doctrine of primogeniture or other legitimist ideas as known in the West. At different times and places different arrangements for the succession may be in favor, and the accidents of personality have always played a decisive part. Some of the monarchies of the past tended toward an emphasis on seniority; the Ottoman Empire did so for years, with the result that a monarch might well be succeeded by his oldest uncle if the family concurred. Seizure of the throne by a vigorous prince was never ruled out, and irregular successions were fairly common. Without an explicit constitution (either written or unwritten) the countries of the old empire and its successor states behaved much as the later Roman Empire did in leaving such choices to the Legions.
In Arabia there is, just the same, an established dynasty which has ruled in the central desert for two centuries and is known as the House of Sa'ud from its first conquering prince. Mohammed ibn Sa'ud, who reigned from 1747 to 1765, is the true founder of the dynasty in the sense that he enlarged its dominions beyond mere tribal limits and welcomed the doctrines of the great Puritan reformer Abd el-Wahhab, in whose name almost all the subsequent conquests were made. (The House of Sa'ud traces its ancestry into much more antique ages, but it enters documented history with these great men.) In spite of many vicissitudes, including an eclipse during which the Sa'ud family was exiled to Kuwait, this family has made Arabian history ever since. The great
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