Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-swqlm Total loading time: 0.276 Render date: 2021-11-28T18:53:55.511Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 October 2019

Get access

Summary

In 1975, in typically surreal fashion, the British comedy group Monty Python parodied that staple of medieval entertainment: Arthurian legend. In one scene, our hero approaches two peasants. One, inexplicably named Dennis and unaware of Arthur's identity, objects to the fact that Arthur automatically treats him as an inferior. Arthur justifies his haughty behaviour by replying that he is king. This does little to ameliorate Dennis's disgruntlement. At this point Dennis's female companion exclaims that she did not vote for Arthur to be king. ‘You don't vote for kings’, Arthur retorts incredulously. The peasant woman then asks how Arthur became king and he explains that the Lady of the Lake presented him with the sword Excalibur, signifying by divine providence that he should be king. This is too much for Dennis, who interjects with the memorable line that ‘strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.’ In the inauguration ceremonies investigated in this book, swords played a prominent role, though they were bestowed on the monarch by men of the cloth rather than lake-dwelling fairies. The assent of the clergy and people was also a feature of medieval inaugurations, though twelfth-century kings could hardly have been described as having a mandate from the masses. Rather, the relevance of this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to the subject matter of this book lies in the similarity between the impertinent peasants’ approach to King Arthur and the manner in which modern scholars have approached high medieval kingship.

While focusing on the rituals of royal and imperial inauguration, this book aims to contribute to a much wider debate about the nature of kingship in what has come to be seen as a transitional period. Like Dennis and his female companion, modern scholars have often assumed the inevitability of the modern secular state so that the liturgical trappings of high medieval kingship, particularly in England, have been treated simply as the ‘froth on top of serious government’. Inherent to the paradigm of modern state formation is the assumption that the sacrality of monarchy, and the spell of its divine providence, at some point wanes.

Type
Chapter
Information
Inauguration and Liturgical Kingship in the Long Twelfth Century
Male and Female Accession Rituals in England, France and the Empire
, pp. 1 - 25
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2019

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Introduction
  • Johanna Dale
  • Book: Inauguration and Liturgical Kingship in the Long Twelfth Century
  • Online publication: 25 October 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787443891.003
Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

  • Introduction
  • Johanna Dale
  • Book: Inauguration and Liturgical Kingship in the Long Twelfth Century
  • Online publication: 25 October 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787443891.003
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Johanna Dale
  • Book: Inauguration and Liturgical Kingship in the Long Twelfth Century
  • Online publication: 25 October 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787443891.003
Available formats
×