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In the modern English usage of the word, is an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or person, or one who has usurped legitimate sovereignty. It is defined further in the Encyclopédie as a usurper of sovereign power who makes his subjects the victims of his passions and unjust desires, which he substitutes for laws.

Tyranny includes a variety of oppressive types of government – by a tyrant (autocracy), by a minority (oligarchy, tyranny of the minority) or by a majority (democracy, tyranny of the majority).

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