Sacral Kingship Between Disenchantment and Re-enchantment: The French and English Monarchies 1587-1688 | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Sacral Kingship Between Disenchantment and Re-enchantment: The French and English Monarchies 1587-1688

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Volume 2

Studies in British and Imperial History

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Sacral Kingship Between Disenchantment and Re-enchantment

The French and English Monarchies 1587-1688

Ronald G. Asch

288 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-356-7 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (July 2014)

eISBN 978-1-78238-357-4 eBook

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“In offering this sustained exercise in comparative history Ronald Asch does a very difficult thing well… [His] study deserves respect and attention…as the most assured and sustained account of the theme produced to date. This status is achieved through a combination of conceptual clarity and rigorous comparison across a crucial century… this is a fine book that successfully utilizes the ideas and practices of sacral monarchy to problematize easy notions of the secularization of European politics by about 1700.” · Journal of Modern History

“Because of the richness of its information and the clarity of its presentation , this book demands respect and constitutes an eloquent  argument for a comparative history of political ideas.” · Perspectivia

“Asch’s skills come to the fore when he summarizes the historiography, his mastery of which is shown by his concise comment on the nuances in (say) Elizabethan monarchical republicanism, or the shifting representations of Louis XIV in different media.” · The Parliamentary History

“…[an] important, provocative, and quietly masterful contribution to the study of early modern political Theology… Asch’s impeccably sourced, well-argued study is part of a recent and welcome trend in scholarship that emphasizes the centrality, vitality, and diversity of theology in early modern politics. Its portrayal of the interwoven nature of French and English history during this time makes an elegant case for redrawing and expanding existing scholarly boundaries. By softening the focus on long-held assumptions and predetermined outcomes, it brings to light the tangled complexity of the early modern period and quietly, yet forcefully, invites us to do the same.” · H-France Review

“This is an excellent book. It is intellectually outstanding in that it sustains an argument in comparative history throughout its whole length. The research is very impressive. The comparison is fruitful and appropriate. The book is capable of changing the field through its argument. It is thoroughly well-grounded and therefore convincing…Conceptually and methodologically this book is tightly organized and clearly the fruit of enormous reflection in these areas. It is a fine example of rigorous comparative methodology applied to a complex and evolving field.” · Peter R. Campbell, Institut d'études culturelles, Guyancourt, nr. Paris

“Throughout [his sparkling new study the author] shows a mastery of complex theological, religious and political issues, and he has many illuminating conclusions to offer, which will give early modern historians much to ponder and reflect upon… Comparative history of this kind is a difficult genre to write successfully, but the author has found a particularly neat way to organize his text… [This] study will be recognized as one of the most important contributions to the study of early modern monarchy, and will be required reading for all historians of both England and the continent.” · Hamish Scott, University of St. Andrews


France and England are often seen as monarchies standing at opposite ends of the spectrum of seventeenth-century European political culture. On the one hand the Bourbon monarchy took the high road to absolutism, while on the other the Stuarts never quite recovered from the diminution of their royal authority following the regicide of Charles I in 1649.  However, both monarchies shared a common medieval heritage of sacral kingship, and their histories remained deeply entangled throughout the century. This study focuses on the interaction between ideas of monarchy and images of power in the two countries between the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and the Glorious Revolution. It demonstrates that even in periods when politics were seemingly secularized, as in France at the end of the Wars of Religion, and in latter seventeenth- century England, the appeal to religious images and values still lent legitimacy to royal authority by emphasizing the sacral aura or providential role which church and religion conferred on monarchs.

Ronald G. Asch holds the Chair of Early Modern History at the University of Freiburg in Germany. He graduated from Tübingen University and previously taught in Münster and Osnabrück. He is an expert on sixteenth and seventeenth-century British and European history and has published monographs on the Thirty Years War and the history of the European nobilities in the early modern period as well as on the court of Charles I. His latest publication is Die Stuarts: Geschichte einer Dynastie (Munich, 2011). He is a member of the Heidelberg Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Subject: History: Medieval/Early Modern
Area: Europe


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