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Power in ModernityAgency Relations and the Creative Destruction of the King's Two Bodies$
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Isaac Ariail Reed

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226689319

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226689593.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Agency, Alterity, and the Two Bodies of the King

Agency, Alterity, and the Two Bodies of the King

(p.102) 5 Agency, Alterity, and the Two Bodies of the King
Power in Modernity

Isaac Ariail Reed

University of Chicago Press

This chapter begins with a contrast: between the language and action of Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., leader of Bacon's Rebellion (1676) and Herman Husband, a leader in the Whiskey Rebellion (1794). Bacon claimed to be a true representative of the King, over and against the Colony of Virginia's appointed governor. Husband preached millenarian visions of the perfect democratic republic. To understand the contrast, one needs to understand the pragmatic deployment of the King's Two Bodies—the king's mortal, natural body and his ethereal, sacred "second body," represented on coins and seals, as well as at his funeral and in the next King's coronation—as a way to do politics in the first British Empire, and, more broadly, throughout the early modern Atlantic world. One effect of the three great Atlantic revolutions of the late eighteenth century was to creatively destroy the King's Two Bodies as the cultural background with which long chains of power were built. Without the King's Two Bodies to solve agency problems, different cultural solutions to the recurrent problems of shoring up hierarchy were needed. This is how to understand Herman Husband's enchanted sermons, which were obsessed with delegation from the body of the people to the leader.

Keywords:   Bacon's Rebellion, Whiskey Rebellion, Herman Husband, modernity, millenarian Christianity, biblical republicanism, Ernst Kantorowicz, early American republic, first British empire, King's Two Bodies

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