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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Medieval Tidbit #6 -- Divine Right of Kings

Announcements and Events:

  • I did my first signing on Friday in the building I work in. It's a corporate building that isn't even very fully, but I've worked there for awhile and my co-workers are very supportive of my writing efforts. I signed and sold about 45 books over the space of an eight-hour work day. Squee!
  • On December 14-15, I'll be signing and selling books at the South Towne Expo Center's event, Big Bodacious Christmas Boutique. That's in South Jordan, Utah, so if you're close enough! Come see me! I'd love to meet some of my followers and blogger buddies in person! :D

Now onto today's post!

Did you know...

That in the middle ages and even throughout much of the Renaissance, monarchs of most of the world believed in something called the Divine Right of Kings. This meant that they believed God chose who would sit on the throne. Therefore, if they obtained the throne, it was because God willed it.

But they took it even farther than that. They believed that anything they wanted to do was just because any thought they had was put in their heads by God.

To us today, this seems like an awesome excuse to drink, whore, oppress and power-trip your way through life. And don't get me wrong: it often was. But it was also something the monarchs genuinely believed.

In fact, this belief is the origin of the royal "we." Monarch often referred to themselves (while in public and at court) in the plural, which was indicative of them speaking for and "with" God.

King Henry VIII was a prime example of this. My sister is an amateur Tutor historian. She's read plenty of primary source material for the time period, including Henry's journals, a surprising number of which have survived. When you read his own words, it becomes clear how conflicted he was. His reason was often (I'd say usually) flawed, but it was because he was told from his infancy that a king's thoughts are the will of God, so he had a hard time reconciling what he knew to be ethical with other, more selfish thoughts he truly believed were god-sent.

I can't help but think that many medieval rulers had this problem. It affected the choices they made. And, because they were monarchs, their choices affected entire countries, and therefore the course of human history.

And we think our problems are stressful!!!

How do you think a belief like this would affect a person?


  1. Congratulations on the signings and sales-- how fun!

  2. Congrats. For a recent example of this just look at some extreme countries in the Middle East. It's not a good policy and always leads to trouble. Good point Liesel

  3. I didn't realize that about the "we" in their speech. Makes sense now. (And congrats on the sales and signings!)

  4. WAY INTERESTING, Liesel. Neat post! Thanks for sharing! I shared your info on my Facebook page about your signings coming up at the South Towne Expo Center. Hope it helps get some fans in the door.