Want to know what books Helen Castor recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Helen Castor's favorite book recommendations of all time.
The king's natural body has physical attributes, suffers, and dies,... more
The king's natural body has physical attributes, suffers, and dies, naturally, as do all humans; but the king's other body, the spiritual body, transcends the earthly and serves as a symbol of his office as majesty with the divine right to rule. The notion of the two bodies allowed for the continuity of monarchy even when the monarch died, as summed up in the formulation The king is dead. Long live the king.
Bringing together liturgical works, images, and polemical material, The King's Two Bodies explores the long Christian past behind this political theology. It provides a subtle history of how commonwealths developed symbolic means for establishing their sovereignty and, with such means, began to establish early forms of the nation-state.
Kantorowicz fled Nazi Germany in 1938, after refusing to sign a Nazi loyalty oath, and settled in the United States. While teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, he once again refused to sign an oath of allegiance, this one designed to identify Communist Party sympathizers. He was dismissed as a result of the controversy and moved to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he remained for the rest of his life, and where he wrote The King's Two Bodies. less
Helen CastorThe whole idea of The King’s Two Bodies is that of the divide between the king’s natural body and his representation of the body politic, a more abstract political authority. Those two things come together and have to be worked out in law and authority and language – but it’s always a male body. The physical being of the king is part of that relationship, and the fact is that the very different... (Source)
Helen CastorThis is one of the idiosyncratic things on this list, because the obvious thing to choose would have been another of her books, The Warrior Queen, which is much more obviously about queens and power, and is a great book as well. But The Weaker Vessel, which is a social history of women in 17th-century England, was really the first book that, a long time ago, made me think about the experience of... (Source)
She was crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months of age, and Queen of France at sixteen years; at eighteen she ascended the throne that was her birthright and began ruling one of the most fractious courts in Europe, riven by religious conflict and personal lust for power. She rode out at the head of an army in both victory and defeat; saw her second husband assassinated, and married his murderer. At twenty-five she entered captivity at the hands of her... more
She was crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months of age, and Queen of France at sixteen years; at eighteen she ascended the throne that was her birthright and began ruling one of the most fractious courts in Europe, riven by religious conflict and personal lust for power. She rode out at the head of an army in both victory and defeat; saw her second husband assassinated, and married his murderer. At twenty-five she entered captivity at the hands of her rival queen, from which only death would release her.
The life of Mary Stuart is one of unparalleled drama and conflict. From the labyrinthine plots laid by the Scottish lords to wrest power for themselves, to the efforts made by Elizabeth's ministers to invalidate Mary's legitimate claim to the English throne, John Guy returns to the archives to explode the myths and correct the inaccuracies that surround this most fascinating monarch. He also explains a central mystery: why Mary would have consented to marry – only three months after the death of her second husband, Lord Darnley – the man who was said to be his killer, the Earl of Bothwell. And, more astonishingly, he solves, through careful re-examination of the Casket Letters, the secret behind Darnley's spectacular assassination at Kirk o'Field. With great pathos, Guy illuminates how the imprisoned Mary's despair led to a reckless plot against Elizabeth – and thus to her own execution.
The portrait that emerges is not of a political pawn or a manipulative siren, but of a shrewd and charismatic young ruler who relished power and, for a time, managed to hold together a fatally unstable country. less
Helen CastorThis is a wonderful piece of authoritative medieval history. Marjorie Chibnall is a historian I admire enormously. The book isn’t aimed at telling a rollicking good story, but it is careful in its judgement and superbly scholarly. What it opened up for me was all the possibilities of the 12th-century world. I came to this as a late-medieval historian, because the area that I worked on first of... (Source)
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