Coup d'état

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A coup d'état (English: /ˌkuːdeɪˈtɑː/, French: [ku deta]; plural: coups d'état)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, illegal deposition of a government,[1][2][3] usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either civil or military. A coup d'état succeeds when the usurpers establish their legitimacy if the attacked government fails to thwart them, by allowing their (strategic, tactical, political) consolidation and then receiving the deposed government's surrender; or the acquiescence of the populace and the non-participant military forces.

Typically, a coup d'état uses the extant government's power to assume political control of the country. In Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak says, "A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder", thus, armed force (either military or paramilitary) is not a defining feature of a coup d'état.

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Etymology

Ramses II at Kadesh.jpgGustavus Adolphus at the Battle at Breitenfeld.jpgM1A1 abrams front.jpg Military history

Although the coup d'état has featured in politics since antiquity, the phrase is of relatively recent coinage;[4] the Oxford Dictionary identifies it as a French expression meaning a “stroke of State”. In 1646, James Howell used the phrase in the book Louis XIII;[citation needed] the first English usage dates from 1811, referring to Napoleon Bonaparte's deposing the Revolutionary Directory in 1799.[citation needed] Prof. Thomas Childers, of the University of Pennsylvania, indicates that the English language's lacking a word denoting the sudden, violent change of government derives from England's stable political traditions and institutions. French and German history are coloured with such politico-military actions.

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