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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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Within and without the King’s Two Bodies in London and Paris

Within and without the King’s Two Bodies in London and Paris

(p.187) 7 Within and without the King’s Two Bodies in London and Paris
Power in Modernity

Isaac Ariail Reed

University of Chicago Press

Ernst Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies reconstructed the origins and dynamics of a key piece of European political culture, according to which signs of state and signs of church were mixed together so as to shore up agency problems—that is, to construct a regime of delegation and domination. It is in these terms that two iconic moments in the history of political culture can be reconsidered: Thomas Hobbes' reaction to the English Civil War in Leviathan and the trial of King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. In these moments, the problem of how to do politics when the King's Two Bodies is no longer part of the easily accepted background of political life comes into the foreground. In these moments, the problem of who is in and who is out of the people becomes central to discursive power. Via the revolution in Saint Domingue, the extension of citizenship to non-whites recast the debates over the "body politic" in Paris between 1790 and 1794. More broadly, as popular sovereignty came to replace divine Kingship as the cultural basis of decision-making and hierarchy, who counted as a person became the central political question of the age.

Keywords:   Leviathan, state and society, political sociology, Ernst Kantorowicz, Maximilien Robespierre, French Revolution, English Civil War, race and citizenship, The Black Atlantic, Michael Walzer

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