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In the King's Shadow

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4767-8
160 pages
December 2010, Polity
In the King


It is commonly assumed that the rise of modern democracies put an end to the spectacular and ceremonial aspects of political rule that were so characteristic of monarchies and other earlier regimes. The medieval idea that the king had two bodies - a mortal physical body and an eternal political body - strikes us today as alien and remote from our understanding of politics: with the transition from monarchy to modern representative democracy, the idea of the body politic was abandoned. Or was it?

In this remarkable and highly original book Philip Manow shows that the body politic, though so often pronounced dead, remains alive in modern democracies. It is just one of the many ideas that we have inherited from our predecessors and that continue to shape our modern forms of political life. Why did the semi-circle become the main seating plan for modern parliaments? Why do we think that parliament should mirror the diversity of society? Why does the president's motorcade always have more than one identical-looking Cadillac? Why do we pay so much attention to the physical features and appearance - the body - of our political leaders today? In answering these and other questions Manow sheds fresh light on the pre-modern origins of our modern political institutions and practices and shows convincingly that all political power - including democracy - requires and produces its own political mythology.

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Table of Contents

Chapter One: Does the Republic Have a Body?

Chapter Two: Parliament as Body Politic — House Seating Plans.

2.1 Does democracy have no images?

2.2 Basic parliamentary seating plans and how they came about.

2.3 The shadow of the king's body.

2.4 The parliamentarization of divine right doctrine.

Chapter Three: Parliament as Body Politic — Immunity, Publicity, Proportionality and Discontinuity.

3.1 Republican body-snatching.

3.2 'A degree of sanctity' — parliamentary immunity.

3.3 The parliamentary puppet can speak! — the question of public debate.

3.4 'A recognizable likeness of the populace' — parliamentary proportionality.

3.5 Le parlement ne meurt jamais? Parliamentary discontinuity.

3.6 Farewell to the body of the people?

Chapter Four: Democratic Bodies/Despotic Bodies.

4.1 Deputies and Doubles.

4.2 In corpore/in effigie (1).

4.3 In corpore/in effigie (2).

4.4 In corpore/in effigie (3).

4.5 Hot and cold representation.

4.6 Violent/thaumaturgic.

4.7 Dignitas/humanitas.

4.8 Disenchantment/Re-enchantment.



Sources of illustrations.

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Author Information

Philip Manow is Professor of Politics at the University of Konstanz.
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The Wiley Advantage

  • This is an outstanding and highly original book on a very interesting topic.
  • Manow shows that our modern democratic institutions are based on ideas that stem from medieval and early modern forms of political organization, and that many features of modern politics - like the semi-circular seating plan of modern parliaments - are derived from earlier political regimes.
  • This will appeal to advanced undergraduates, graduates and academics in politics, political theory and social theory.
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"Of value to specialists in the history of political theory and democratic institutions."

"Manow sheds fresh light on the pre-modern origins of our modern political institutions and practices and shows convincingly that all political power - including democracy - requires and produces its own political mythology."
Orange Standard

"This is a brilliant piece of historical and political analysis, tracing how imagery derived originally from the importance of the corporeal presence of monarchs continues to shape our ways of thinking about political institutions today. The design of parliamentary assemblies, the importance of the personal appearance of political figures and the value of continuity of persons occupying roles can all be seen afresh in the light of this central theme. It is probably the most original contribution to democratic theory for several years."
Colin Crouch, University of Warwick

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