The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology

The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology

The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology

The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology

Excerpt

At the beginning of this book stands a conversation held twelve years ago with my friend MAX RADIN (then John H. Boalt Professor of Law, at Berkeley) in his tiny office in Boalt Hall, brimful floor to ceiling and door to window of books, papers, folders, notes--and life. To bait him with a question and get him off to an always stimulating and amusing talk was not a labor of Hercules. One day I found in my mail an offprint from a liturgical periodical published by a Benedictine Abbey in the United States, which bore the publisher's imprint: The Order of St. Benedict, Inc. To a scholar coming from the European Continent and not trained in the refinements of Anglo-American legal thinking, nothing could have been more baffling than to find the abbreviation Inc., customary with business and other corporations, attached to the venerable community founded by St. Benedict on the rock of Montecassino in the very year in which Justinian abolished the Platonic Academy in Athens. Upon my inquiry, Max Radin informed me that indeed the monastic congregations were incorporated in this country, that the same was true with the dioceses of the Roman Church, and that, for example, the Archbishop of San Francisco could figure, in the language of the Law, as a "Corporation sole"--a topic which turned our conversation at once to Maitland's famous studies on that subject, to the abstract "Crown" as a corporation, to the curious legal fiction of the "King's Two Bodies" as developed in Elizabethan England, to Shakespeare's Richard II, and to certain mediaeval antecedents of the "abstract King." In other words, we had a good conversation, the kind of talk you would always yearn for and to which Max Radin was an ideal partner.

When shortly thereafter I was asked to contribute to a volume of essays in honor of Max Radin on his retirement, I could do no better than submit an essay on the "King's Two Bodies" (parts of Chapters I-III, and a section of Chapter IV), a paper of which he himself was, so to speak, a co-author or at least the illegitimate father. The Festschrift unfortunately never materialized. The contributions were returned to their authors, and though displeased by the fact that a well-deserved recognition was withheld from my friend, I was nevertheless not unhappy to see my manuscript back because in the meantime I had enlarged both my views . . .

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