The Stone of Scone: Coronating Medieval Scottish Monarchs

Introduction The Stone of Scone (Gaelic: Lia Fail), also known as the Stone of Destiny or Coronation Stone, is a block of sandstone associated with the coronation ceremonies of the medieval monarchs of Scotland. These ceremonies were held at Scone, a prehistoric site in Perthshire. The Stone of Scone was removed from Scotland by Edward I of[…]

A History of the Coronation Ceremony of the British Monarchy

The earliest English coronation that is recorded in detail was the crowning of the Anglo-Saxon King Edgar (ruled 959-975 CE) in 953 CE. Introduction The coronation ceremony of the British monarchy as we know it today involves many elements that have been a part of the pageantry ever since the 11th century CE. Such features[…]

Three Medieval Monarchs and Transparent Rule

Monarchs and prime ministers have spent centuries working out which decisions need to be made in public. Introduction When the English parliamentary system emerged, it was built on a cherished principle: rulers had to take advice from a representative body of subjects before making a major decision, and whether they followed that advice or not,[…]

The Rise of New Monarchies in Late Medieval Europe

Monarchs were demolishing the medieval feudal political system and building strong central government in its place. Introduction Between 1450 and 1550, Renaissance humanism reshaped European education, literature, the arts, music, and political theory. It also exposed corruption and fallacies within the Roman Catholic Church. It was a profound rejection of medieval scholasticism and traditional practices.[…]

A History of the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ Doctrine

The origins of the theory are rooted in the medieval idea that God had bestowed earthly power to the king. Introduction The Divine Right of Kings is a political and religious doctrine of royal absolutism. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will[…]

A History of Elective Monarchy since the Ancient World

Many kingdoms were elective historically, though the candidates were typically only from the family of the deceased monarch. Introduction An elective monarchy is a monarchy ruled by an elected monarch, in contrast to a hereditary monarchy in which the office is automatically passed down as a family inheritance. The manner of election, the nature of[…]

A History of the Notion of the ‘Divine Right of Kings’

Only divine authority can judge unjust monarchs and any attempt to depose, dethrone, or restrict their powers runs contrary to God’s will. Introduction The divine right of kings, divine right, or God’s mandate is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It stems from a specific metaphysical framework in which the king[…]

Images of Medieval African Kingship, Real and Imagined

A brief introduction to famous African rulers and their impact on medieval and Renaissance European culture. By Dr. Bryan C. Keene Adjunct Professor of Art History Pepperdine University Introduction The exhibition Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art (on view at the Getty Center until February 16, 2020) examines the figure of the[…]

Staging Kingship in Scotland and England, 1532-1560

In terms of its staging of sovereignty, passivity distinguished the Scottish king from the English tyrant. Introduction ‘Quhat is ane king?’ asks Divine Correctioun in David Lyndsay’s Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis before supplying the answer ‘Nocht bot ane officiar’ (1613),[1] thereby articulating a commonplace of medieval Scottish literature on kingship that the monarch’s[…]

‘Spanish Atlanteans’: Crisis of Empire and Reconstruction of Spanish Monarchy, 1672-1740

A new national imaginary emerged that legitimized the task of redefinition. With variations, a concern with origins dominated Spain’s introspection in the eighteenth century. As a result of a internal crisis, the Spanish Monarchy underwent a process of redefinition between the end of the seventeenth century and the decade of the 1740s. By synthesizing traditional[…]

The King’s Touch: A History of ‘Magical Royalty’

By sanctifying the royal body, the act of anointing has often been believed to confer healing powers. The climax of the royal coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London is the act of anointing: the monarch is consecrated with holy oil applied to the hands, breast and head, while the Archbishop of Canterbury declares: ‘As[…]

Analyzing ‘The Favourite’ and the 18th-Century Court of Queen Anne

How two female courtiers vied for influence over Queen Anne. One of the challengers at this year’s Oscars is “The Favourite,” a film set in the early 18th-century court of British monarch Queen Anne. Focusing on the political and sexual intrigues of a female-led state, the film has, at its center, not only the queen[…]

A History of Italian Citizenship Laws during the Era of the Monarchy (1861-1946)

The evolution of Italian citizenship from political unification to the end of the Second World War. By Dr. Luca BussottiInternational Studies Centre, ISCTE/IUL, Lisbon Abstract This article aims to present the evolution of Italian citizenship from political unification to the end of the Second World War, which in Italy corresponds with the end of the[…]

The Privilege of Liberty: Challenging the Society of Orders in Bourbon France

Privilege was the beating heart of that society of orders known as Bourbon France. Privilege was the beating heart of that society of orders known as Bourbon France. The privileges of the nobility, clergy, and king were only the apex of a structure of privilege that reached into many provinces and affected nearly all cities[…]

Controlling Public Opinion in France’s Old Regime: Did the King Care what the Peasants Thought?

The politicization of the French peasantry before and during the Revolutionary period has been the topic of much debate. Introduction On a chilly day in late November, a peasant named Jean Marrot, who lived in the village of Brassac in the Pyrenees mountains south of Foix, went for a walk in the woods near his[…]

The Cult of France and its King: Political Theory in the Mazarinades during the Fronde, 1648-1653

The concept of absolutism – the divine right to rule – dominated the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in France and elsewhere. Louis XIV’s famous “L’État, c’est moi” of 1661 summarizes candidly the concept of absolutism, the political theory that appeared to dominate the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The concept of its divine underpinnings was an[…]

An Historical Overview of Absolutism in Early Modern Europe

The era of absolutism, exemplified by the “Sun King” Louis XIV Bourbon of France, marks the rise of rulers throughout Europe who had absolute power over their nations. The era of absolutism, exemplified by the “Sun King” Louis XIV Bourbon of France, marks the rise of rulers throughout Europe who had absolute power over their[…]