Comparative Approaches to Political Theologies
from the Middle Ages to the Present

The research project ‘Rex nunquam moritur: Comparative Approaches to Political Theologies from the Middle Ages to the Present’ was carried out within the framework of the National Programme for the Development of Humanities (module 2.1) between July 2014 and January 2017. Its main objective was to investigate the cultural specificity and inner dynamics of political powers and the ways they were influenced by political theologies throughout the centuries.

Sixty years after the publication of Ernst Kantorowicz’s The King’s Two Bodies (1957), we intended to reassess the paradigm of the ruler’s two bodies as proposed by Kantorowicz in order to contribute to today’s debates on the political powers and political theology in its academic, political and social aspects, both in Poland and abroad. To do so, we focused on fourteen case studies ranging from the tenth- and eleventh-century charters from León to contemporary comic books and TV programmes. The studies shed a new light on the temporality and fragility of political bodies; relationships between the ruler’s physical and political bodies; literary, visual and performative representations of kings, interactions between Christianity and political systems, last but not least on tensions between politics, ethics, and modes of artistic representations.

The results of our work-in-progress were presented at the international conference “The Anatomy of Political Bodies”, which was held at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw, April, 17-18, 2015 as a part of the project. We also discussed our results at the seminar “Rhetoric, the Public Square and Political Theology from the Middle Ages to Early Modernity” that took place on March, 18, 2016.

The final outcome of the team work was presented in the volume Premodern Rulership and Contemporary Political Power: The King's Body Never Dies (eds. K. Mroziewicz, A. Sroczyński), Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press 2017.

Project coordinators: Karolina Mroziewicz and Aleksander Sroczyński.