On the King’s two bodies and modern myth making

There is a historical conception pioneered by Ernst Kantorowitz outlined in his book The King’s Two Bodies, which argued that medieval kings had – wait for it – two bodies. Historians refer to these as “the body natural” and “the body politic”.[1] The body natural is the king’s actual physical body. It is born, grows, has sex, gets ill, an dies. You know, like bodies do. The body politic on the other hand is a symbol of the office of the king. It transcends the king himself and instead is a symbol of his divine right to rule. It is bigger than any one actual king and is bestowed onto whoever becomes the next king when a king’s body natural dies. This is where you get the phrase, “The king is dead, long live the king.” The conception of the king is larger than any one actual person and it is a stand in for the conception of a kingship within that kingdom itself.

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Chatting about plague for HistFest

Want even more of me yammering about Black Death? Lucky you! Rebecca Rideal – who is a specialist in seventeenth century plague (It is not as good. It is still very interesting.) – was kind enough to have me on to discuss Black Death stuff even more. What, you got somewhere else you gotta be? Something you need to do?

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A Black Death reading list

Lovelies! I have had a bunch of requests for a Black Death reading list, which is all I have ever wanted to provide. Because there is so so much to read, I have tried to break it down for you by type of reads.

A lot of these are classics, so check with your fav local bookstore if they have them in. (That is provided that they are doing delivery! But support your local independent shops!)

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On individual blame for global crises

Permit me, if you will, a slightly rambling introduction: we are all, still, in the midst of a pandemic, and coping as best we can in whatever ways we can. Here in the UK our “government” has us on a sort of partial social distancing thing. So, if you can work from home, you are supposed to, and there are no restaurants open, and we have to line up to get groceries. One of the bright spots (other than booze – shout out to my legendary friend!) that we have in the slurry of same same days is that we are allowed out of the house for exercise. This makes a lot of sense! It is in the interest of public health generally, and in maintaining a stretched to breaking point and under assault from our ruling party. Tra la la.

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Emergency post: That is not what the “good” in Good Friday means

So evil muckraking rag which you must never buy, the Sun, has once again ruined my life by having the absolute worst take about Boris Johnson’s release from ICU. Ready? No. You are not.

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Not every pandemic is the Black Death

Interesting times, no? We live in interesting times. Oh ho ho the times they are interesting. By that, of course, I mean that I am very bored, but at the same time so anxious I am giving myself headaches. Pandemics are not fun! Staying in your house is not fun! Worrying that people are going to die is not fun! Watching governments debate whether rich people’s wealth is more important than people dying is not fun!

This is not as bad as living through the Black Death, or the plague generally.

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