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The king's three bodies

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Chapter Summary

Some theologians and lawyers of the middle Ages, attached to the European royal courts, elaborated a political theory and a common law based on the duality of the king's body. The king, with his natural and carnal body, is a mortal, as was Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified under Pontius Pilatus and put in a tomb. The very same king, anointed when he succeeds his deceased predecessor, adorned with all the paraphernalia of the monarchy, the crown, the sceptre and the globe, is like the resurrected Christ who is the head of the church, his body on earth. The king in glory incorporates his subjects just like the Christ in glory incorporates the faithful members of the church. The analogy has its limitations, of which the theologians and E.H. Kantorowicz were well aware.

Keywords: European royal courts; Jesus of Nazareth; king's body; Middle Ages; political theory; Pontius Pilatus



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