Why do we need a bootloader in an embedded device?

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http://stackoverflow.com – I'm working with ELinux kernel on ARM cortex-A8. I know how the bootloader works and what job it's doing. But i've got a question - why do we need bootloader, why was the bootloader born? Why we can't directly load the kernel into RAM from flash memory without bootloader? If we load it what will happen? In fact, processor will not support it, but why are we following the procedure? (HowTos)