Cover image for The power of kings : monarchy and religion in Europe, 1589-1715
The power of kings : monarchy and religion in Europe, 1589-1715
Monod, Paul Kléber.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 417 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Introduction -- The sickness of the royal body, 1589-1610 -- The theatre of royal virtue, 1610-1637 -- No king but King Jesus, 1637-1660 -- The sign of the artificial man, 1660-1690 -- The state remains, 1690-1715 -- Conclusion.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BR115.K55 M66 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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An exploration of the changing cultural significance of the power of European kings from the assassination of France's Henry III to the death of Louis XIV. It draws on political history, political philosophy, anthropology, sociology and literature, and makes use of 35 paintings and statues.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the late sixteenth century, the European institutions of monarchy and the nation-state were intimately tied to religion and hopes for personal salvation. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, a sea change had occurred; monarchy was viewed more as a secular institution, while salvation was more dependent on the merits and sins of the individual. Monod is a professor of history at Middlebury College. In his examination of these changes, he has handled a difficult and controversial topic with clarity and objectivity. He avoids facile explanations that imply that religious faith and belief in monarchy as an institution had been rejected. He effectively utilizes art, literature, and political philosophy to illustrate how a new relationship between the individual, the sovereign, and the striving for the divine had emerged. Both specialists and general readers should appreciate this thoughtful and stimulating analysis of a period that shaped the modern world. --Jay Freeman

Library Journal Review

This book describes the images of various monarchs in Europe (Russia, Sweden, Poland, the Holy Roman Empire, England, and France), showing how they presented themselves and how they were viewed by their subjects. Monod (history, Middlebury Coll.) uses paintings, sculpture, iconography, and even philosophical works to demonstrate that whereas at the beginning of this period the monarch himself was seen as invested with godlike powers, by the early 18th century the person holding that office was not necessarily seen as holy (though the office of the monarch might still be considered ordained by divine grace). Covering so many countries and so many media makes Monod's argument somewhat murky at times, but on the whole it is well presented. This specialized book is recommended for academic and graduate libraries.ÄJean E.S. Storrs, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Catonsville, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Monod's subject is the creation of the rational state in the 17th and 18th centuries by the transformation of kingship from a mediating role between the divine and human to the morally self-disciplined sovereign acting according to the principles of natural reason for the security of the artificial man, i.e., the rational state. The book ranges comparatively across Europe from Spain to Russia, includes considerable pictorial as well as other evidence, and is original, clearly written, and fascinating in the rich detail that supports its thesis. It begins with the "crisis in the Renaissance conception of sacred monarchy ... challenged by a revived preoccupation with the religious purity of the Christian self" that led to confessionalism; it ends with the construction of the rational state, in which "the public life of the individual had to be concerned with civic duty, not spiritual purity." The state now derived its legitimacy and its power to define the civic self from its conformity to natural reason, not divine grace: "Monarchy in the late seventeenth century [and the political public with it] was flying away from grace and revelation, towards a rational ideal of virtue." General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above. E. Peters; University of Pennsylvania