Sunday, October 14, 2007

In Our Time on the Divine Right of Kings

In Our Time discusses the Divine Right of Kings and has me a bit puzzled still at the end. Maybe I was less concentrated, but somehow I missed the connection between the political theory and the mystical asset that the king was supposed to be able to heal by touch.

In any case, on the political side, it is interesting to learn how the divine right, the idea of a monarchy in a sort of absolute, directly derived from God, sense, is rather a Protestant idea than a Catholic one. King James I of England wrote about it and his ideas are explained on the show as well as the follow up.

On the subject of the alleged healing powers of the King, I found it funny and yet understandably, the kings generally seemed not to have liked this. It involved touching people. At the same time and when monarchy was successful with the people, these touch rituals turned into huge crowded events. The king touched thousands of people in one occasion. Makes sense in a way. I mean, if you think up some sort of absolute monarchy, the monarch turns to be rather distanced from the ruled and can easily become unpopular. Hence you need these grotesque rituals to compensate. My idea, this is, not from this excellent history podcast's educated guests.

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