In this book, stressing the ubiquity and extraordinary staying power of kingship, Francis Oakley argues that it may be the most common form of government known to humankind. He traces its history from the time of the Neolithic revolution and the spread of agrarian modes of subsistence around the eastern Mediterranean (c. 8,000-5,000 B. C. E. ) down to its widespread loss of legitimacy in the modern industrial world. The author considers the many forms that kingship took during this period, including: the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt; the emperors of Japan; the Maya rulers of Mesoamerica; the medieval popes and emperors; and the English and French monarchs of early modern Europe. While acknowledging the panoply of governing roles that kingship could involve - administrative, military, judicial, economic, religious, and purely symbolic - his central focus is on its intimate connection with the sacred. From despots to powerless figureheads, and from Hellenistic Greece to the Fiji Islands, Oakley examines the nature of kingship and its centrality to the political experience of humankind.
His account draws on the insights of cultural anthropology and comparative religion, as well as the on the resources provided by historians.
"This is a wide-ranging, cross-cultural exploration and meditation on sacral kingship by one of the rare, intellectually adventurous, historians in the academy." Janet Coleman, London School of Economics and Political Science
"In Oakley's hands, kingship turns out to be a tremendously insightful vantage point to understand the human story. His magisterial sweep through the history of monarchical rule shows conclusively how difficult it is to separate the history of politics from that of religion. Oakley's argument is supported by vivid examples drawn from an impressive range of times and civilizations." Charles Taylor, McGill University
"Original and lucid. This is an essential book ... it offers a persuasive reconsideration of the history of political philosophy, which bears on modern and recent as well as much older periods." Choice
"Oakley's study is neither confined to the West, nor to any period. It is not on kings, but on the very idea of kingship, an idea characterised by ubiquity, longevity and sacrality. [This] study is interesting and at times challenging." European Constitutional Law Review
?A most useful and informative survey of the theme?The juxtaposition of so much diverse material is certainly thought-provoking and demands changes in historical perspectives.?
Catholic Historical Review
List of Illustrations.
Series Editor's Preface.
Prologue: Matters of Perspective.
1. Gate of the Gods: Archaic and Global Patterns of Cosmic Kingship.
2. Royal Saviors and Shepherds: Hellenistic, Roman, Biblical, and Qur?ânic views of Kingship.
3. The Eusebian Accommodation: Christian Rulership in Imperial Rome, Byzantium, and Russia.
4. The Carolingian Accommodation: Christian Rulership in the Germanic Successor Kingdoms of Western Europe.
5. Sacral Kingship in Medieval and Early-Modern Europe: Papal, Imperial, National.
6. The Fading Nimbus: Modern Kingship and its Fate in a Disenchanted World.
Epilogue: Survivals and Revivals.
Suggestions for Further Reading.
Series: New Perspectives on the Past
Number Of Pages: 212
Published: 1st March 2006
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.15 x 17.05
Weight (kg): 0.47
Edition Number: 1