A Macat analysis of Ernst H. Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997
Examining 1,200 years of history from the foundation of Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire to the beheading of King Charles I in England is in itself a mammoth undertaking. But it is the issues explored by German American historian Ernst H. Kantorowicz in his 1957 study The King's Two Bodies that have had a profound effect on the way academics think about the study of history.
Early European monarchs were considered to have two bodies: one earthly and private, one almost divine, embodying the State. Examining the image of these two bodies, Kantorowicz goes on to identify the ways in which monarchies used religious imagery and ideas to enhance and extend the ruler's power and to form states.
Analyzing an impressive array of primary material - from literary and artistic texts to historical and legal works - Kantorowicz compares the ways leaders across the centuries make use of broadly similar symbols to achieve their political ends. Decades after its original publication, The King's Two Bodies remains a major text in its field.
You can find out more about how Kantorowicz's ideas have been challenged and applied - and how his work has impacted on thinkers in other academic disciplines - by exploring further in the Macat Library.
Macat's analyses cover 14 different subjects in the humanities and social sciences.
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This is my first encounter with the Macat titles. "Macaw" might be a better name them, given the brainless repetition of words and phrases.
Though these titles apparently cover a superb, interesting selection of scholarly texts, the format is oddly robotic, to say the least. The audio is divided in Sections and Modules. Each Module repeats what was in the previous ones, with some sentences and details added. I am about halfway through and though we have yet to get to the work itself, I have heard that the author was "influenced by Carl Schmitt's Political Theology" eight or nine times. It is repeated anew again and again in each module, along with most of the other information. Then a bit of addition information is added.
It appears that the idea is to somehow impress the material, phrase by phrase, on your neural system without engaging your consciousness. Perhaps the format is intended for students who want to input test material while sleeping. Alternately, it could be used to train a scholarly-sounding Macaw: "Kantorowicz influenced by Schmitt! Ach! Ach! Cracker! Cracker!"
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