iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for The Divine Right of Kings

Play now 45 mins

The Divine Right of Kings

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 11 October 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Divine Right of Kings. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the character Malcolm describes the magical healing powers of the king: “How he solicits heaven, Himself best knows; but strangely-visited people, All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye, The mere despair of surgery, he cures; Hanging a golden stamp about their necks, Put on with holy prayers...”The idea that a monarch could heal with his touch flowed from the idea that a king was sacred, appointed by God and above the judgement of earthly powers. It was called the Divine Right of Kings. The idea resided deep in the culture of 17th century Britain affecting the pomp of the Stuart Kings, the writings of Milton and Shakespeare and the political works of John Locke. It is a story that involves witches, regicide, scrofula, Macbeth, miraculous portraits and some of the greatest poetry in the English language. With Justin Champion, Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway, University of London; Tom Healy, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London; Clare Jackson, Lecturer and Director of Studies in History at Trinity Hall, Cambridge

  • Further Reading

    Robert Filmer, Political writings, Johann P. Sommerville ed, (Cambridge University Press, 1991)

    John Neville Figgis, The Divine Right of Kings, originally published (Cambridge, 1895); available in various subsequent editions, including a 2007 hardback and paperback reprint by Kessinger Publishing in their Legacy Reprint series (ISBN: 0548289018; 978-0548289013)

    David Wootton, Divine Right and Democracy: An Anthology of Political Writing in Stuart England, (Penguin, 1986)

    Paul Monod, The Power of Kings, (Yale, 1999)

    Thomas Corns (ed), The Royal Image, (Cambridge, 1999)

    Nicola Smith, The Royal Image and the English People, (Ashgate, 2001)

    William Shakespeare, Richard II, edited Andrew Gurr, New Cambridge Shakespeare, updated edition, (Cambridge University Press, 2003), ISBN 0521532485

  • .

    Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, The Maid's Tragedy, edited by T.W. Craik, Revels Plays, (Manchester University Press, 1999) ISBN 0719030986

    John Milton, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, in Milton: Political Writing, edited by Martin Dzelzanis, (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, Cambridge University Press, 1991) ISBN: 0521348668. Milton’s fierce attack on monarchy’s claims of legitimacy.

    Erasmus, The Education of a Christian Prince, edited by Lisa Jardine, (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, Cambridge University Press, 1997) ISBN: 0521588111. Argues a Christian monarch’s legitimacy rests in temperate government enacted through virtue and justice.

    James VI and I, The Trew Law of Free Monarchies, in King James VI and I: Political Writings, edited by J.P. Sommerville, (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, Cambridge University Press, 1995) ISBN: 0521447291.

Broadcasts

Featured in...

In Our Time Downloads

melvyn-bragg.jpg

Every episode of In Our Time - available to download to listen to when & where you want.

Podcasts

  1. Image for In Our Time Archive: Culture

    In Our Time Archive: Culture

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas as it applies to culture - from literature…

  2. Image for In Our Time Archive: History

    In Our Time Archive: History

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the people, conflicts and events that have shaped the world.

  3. Image for In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of philosophy - from ancient Greek thinkers to the…

  4. Image for In Our Time Archive: Religion

    In Our Time Archive: Religion

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of religious ideas - from the faith systems of…

  5. Image for In Our Time Archive: Science

    In Our Time Archive: Science

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas and the evolution of the sciences - from…

  6. Image for In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas - including topics drawn from philosophy,…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss