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Conceptions of kingship in high-medieval Germany in historiographical perspective

Dale, J; (2018) Conceptions of kingship in high-medieval Germany in historiographical perspective. History Compass , 16 (6) , Article e12452. 10.1111/hic3.12452.

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Historians of medieval kingship have been influenced by a teleology that sees the development of the secular modern state as inevitable. Therefore, the desacralisation of kingship is considered a key moment on the path to modern state formation. In Germany, the moment of desacralisation has traditionally been identified in 1077, when king Henry IV submitted to Pope Gregory VII at Canossa. Thereafter, the spell of Ottonian sacral kingship was punctured, and Henry's twelfth‐century successors were forced to look to Roman law and the support of the princes for legitimation. In this essay, we first examine the historiography of this traditional three‐phase paradigm, before introducing some recent scholarship that challenges the paradigm and criticises the universal explanatory power of the demise of sacral kingship as a catch‐all reason for change, at the expense of complex political, social, and economic factors.

Type: Article
Title: Conceptions of kingship in high-medieval Germany in historiographical perspective
DOI: 10.1111/hic3.12452
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/hic3.12452
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: sacral kingship, desacralization, secularisation, Canossa, Ottonian, Salian, Staufen
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10050103
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