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2-5 avril 2012, London : The royal body

‘For the King has in him two bodies … a Body natural and a Body politic.’

The idea of the king’s two bodies, the body natural and the body politic, founded on the distinction between
the personal and mortal king and the perpetual and corporate crown, has long been of interest to scholars of
medieval and early modern kingship. In later centuries the natural body of the monarch remained a
contested site, with the life, health, sexuality, fertility and death of the king or queen continuing to be an
important part of politics. Now royal sex and scandal is the very stuff that sells newspapers, and royal
christening, weddings and funerals continue to capture the popular imagination. Indeed the ‘royal touch’ of
Aids victims or sick children remains a potent image. So what is the significance of the natural body of the
monarch to their subjects now and the importance of it for the concept, and survival, of monarchy ?
This conference will explore the bodies of monarchs across Europe ranging from the medieval period to the
present. By considering how the monarch’s body has been washed, dressed, used, anointed, hidden, attacked
and put on display, it will investigate how ideas of king/queenship have developed over time.

Topics might include :

 Body service, dining, dressing, washing
 Rituals and ceremony
 Bodyservants and bodyguards
 Royal sleep, dreams and nightmares
 Assassination attempts
 Age, health and pregnancy
 Deformity and disability
 Royal births and deaths
 Royal touch
 Divine bodies
 Christenings, coronations, weddings and funerals
 Fertility, chastity, virility
 Royal doctors
 Effigies and monuments
 Royal Dress
 Sex and Scandal
 Iconography and representation
 Drama and literature
 Political theory

Organisation et contact :
Centre for the Study of Bodies and Material Culture
Royal Holloway, University of London
RHUL : anna.whitelock chez

Lieu :
The conference will take place at Royal Holloway, Egham, Surrey, on 2-5 April 2012.