Till well into the 17th Century, Bhutan was split up into small independent principalities. After the arrival of Buddhism, during the seventh century, the various Buddhist schools began sharing the power in the country with the old aristocratic families.
The cleric Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel united the independent principalities into one state. After his death the theocracy disintegrated and the provincial lords fought to gain control over the central power. Only the establishment of the monarchy in 1907 brought peace again. Today the fourth King of Bhutan is leading his country into modern times.