Missing Piece of the Puzzle: A King's Two Bodies College

During the Elizabethan era, religion and social status were important characteristics of English culture. England’s rich culture and beliefs during the Elizabethan era were often displayed in many of William Shakespeare’s plays. From folklores to religious beliefs, each play had unique aspects of English life, especially society’s beliefs and views of royalty. One characteristic of how society perceived royalty was the hierarchy of being, the belief that all things in life were arranged based on importance and power. This idea played a significant role in shaping the public’s view of royalty, and many people believed that a king was the closest being to God that existed in everyday, mortal life. This shaped the idea that kings were holy figures that had two forms, “Body Politic” and “Body Natural.” A king’s physical body, or “Body Natural,” subject to everything that makes a king human, and the spiritual body, “Body Politic,” a perfect, spiritual being that governs through God’s will. In two of his plays, Hamlet and King Lear, Shakespeare depicts the destruction of two European kings and explores the repercussions of disrespecting and disrupting the sanctity of the throne. Shakespeare represents the English values of the throne...

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