Mark Bloch’s “The Miracle of the King: A Study of the So-called Supernaturality of the Anglo-French Monarchy” presents a group of kings that make modern readers feel strange. These most powerful and noble people even treat the sickle patients with bare hands! Scab is inflammation of the lymph glands caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Although it is not fatal, it is really disgusting and terrifying: the patient’s face rots, and a odor is emitted from the ulcer. However, the “monarch who practiced medicine” approached the patient, touched the sore with his hand, painted a cross, and sent a blessing. Chronicles or biographies of Western Europe in the Middle Ages often record that a king dropped a precious coat on the sidewalk and gave it to a ragged beggar, or like the French king Saint Louis, to wash the feet and give meals to the poor. These descriptions are meant to highlight the king ’s kindness and humiliation—in the Christian context, they highlight their religious piety and brotherhood. However, the King’s touch to treat the sickness of sickness can not be simply regarded as out of concealment or religious piety.
First of all, it is necessary to pay attention to the number of kings who practice touch treatment. In France, Philip I, who was in power from 1060 to 108, was the first to treat the disease. Every king until Louis XVI had touched the disease for his subjects, even in the French Revolution The post-restoration Charles X was also keen on this. In England, from Henry II in the twelfth century to Queen Anne in the early eighteenth century, every king of England has experience in touching and healing. Secondly, we need to pay attention to the number of patients receiving touch treatment. In the UK, the highest prestige of Edward I touched patients reached 1,736; the infamous Edward II also touched more than hundreds of patients every year; the restored Charles II was the last one to rule More than 6,600 people are touched each year. According to Keane Thomas later in “The Rise and Fall of Witchcraft”, Charles II touched almost half of the English nation! In France, Louis VI seems to touch the patients every day, Louis XIII touches 2,210 people in 1611, 3,125 people in 1620, and Louis XIV in one Seventeen hundred people were touched before the crash in 715. The number of patients touched by each king is very considerable, and some even can be called a huge number. Therefore, the king’s practice of touching and treating sickness patients with his bare hands is not an accidental act of kindness or piety, but a fixed practice of the king.
As a custom, King’s touch treatment of patients has undergone institutional development: first, with the passage of time, King’s touch treatment of sickness patients registration system is becoming more and more perfect. On the one hand, royal officials need to record in detail the identity and household registration information of patients with scabies. Generally speaking, the process of King’s touch treatment is accompanied by activities such as giving bonuses, condolences or treatment rings to the patients. Royal officials must also record and tabulate this. All of this information is kept in the royal account book. The royal expenditure or public expenditure is juxtaposed. On the other hand, the recovered patients need to send the rehabilitation certificate to the king through the parish priest or administrator to show the authenticity of the king’s magical ability. These rehabilitation certificates are also kept in the royal file. Second, even in the face of extreme circumstances, the king did not stop this activity. From 1307 to 1308, the French king faced financial difficulties and had to find various excuses to dissolve the Knights Templar, embezzle his property, or oppress the people to gather money, causing public resentment. At the same time, the King’s activities to touch and treat scrofulous patients continued, and he was also generously distributing bonuses and condolences. In other words, even though the finances were so difficult, the king still did not tighten spending on touch treatment, and would rather use inhumane means to search for money from other sources. The civil war broke out in France in 1569, and the king had no time to withdraw, but he did not forget to send relief officers to give out gifts and condolences to 2,092 lame patients.
Some aspects of this convention are confusing to modern readers. For example, from beginning to end, the British and French kings not only treated their own subjects, but also treated foreigners, and even went out to cure themselves. This approach challenged the idea of sovereignty that began to germinate after the fourteenth century. This shows that the king’s power and identity imply some attributes that cannot be explained in the context of sovereignty. In another example, the activity of touch therapy shows that there is a good relationship between the king and his subjects. Some notorious or destined kings who are nailed to the column of historical shame are even loved by civilians. After King Charles I of England became a prisoner of parliamentary forces in the 1940s, the public petitioned to accept the king ’s touch to cure the disease, so that the parliament had to draft a “Take Touch to Treat the King ’s Devil (ie, Scabies)” Superstition to the People ’s Declaration. This subverted the long-standing impression that the king and the civilian population were irrelevant or diametrically opposed. In another example, the king treated all patients equally in the process of performing touch treatment. Lords, wealthy merchants, vassals, serfs and beggars were mixed together, queuing up to accept touch, and class differences were hidden.
To sum up, “King’s Miracle” has re-discovered a king custom that has existed for centuries. There are three important issues hidden in this: First, since the nineteenth century, historians—especially legal historians, constitutional historians, and financial historians—have conducted detailed research on the royal books, but why no one tried Sorting out and interpreting the records that also exist in the royal family archives about the king’s touch treatment of scabies? Second, “The Miracle of the King” is undoubtedly an innovative result of the study of the royal power, and it was named as Bloch, but why did it not receive attention for half a century after its publication, and why it re-entered in the late twentieth century People’s vision? Thirdly, “King’s Miracle” shows an image of a king that is far from the imagination of modern readers, reflecting many misunderstandings in previous discussions about kings. So, how did these misunderstandings arise?
Modern academic research involves parts of the English and French kings in the Middle Ages and early modern times. It generally follows the path of the narrative of feudal lords and the narrative of the Whig, thus creating a king image that does not violate the modern context and obscures the true image of the king.
The basic assumption of the narrative of feudal lords is that the medieval British and French kings were essentially feudal lords. Elias mentioned: “The owner of the crown is just a big feudal lord, and its power is only equivalent to a baron. Sometimes it is not as good as other lords. The central lord is not superior to the lord of any place.” Maitland believes The power of the king and the nobility differed in degree, not in type. Fritz Kern also agreed, “The king is only a co-owner, and his rights are no different from those of others.” The narrative of feudal lords emphasizes the shaping role of feudal lord-vassal customary system in Western European society. The king in the feudal structure has lost its own particularity, or the principle of feudal lord-vassal surpassing the identity of the king, the importance of the feudal obedience and the oath of loyalty is equivalent to the king’s oiling ceremony. In this regard, Mark Bloch criticized: after all, the king is different from an ordinary high-ranking official. A Duke of Normandy or Aquitaine may be able to accept a position at a religious ceremony in Rouen or Limoges, wearing a sword and a ring , To win the banner or the crown of the Duke, but Holy Oil has never been used.
Whig’s narrative is intended to show the history of people’s sovereignty, parliament, the rule of law, power checks and balances, “taxation requires people’s consent” and other concepts and practices from victory to victory. The king formed a sharply opposed relationship with the law, parliament, or three-level meetings, and his subjects. They became the biggest villains, representing a force that was against the trend of history and destined to fail. Stubbs claimed: “Since the Runnymede Conference, the history of the United Kingdom has been a history of the struggle between the country and the king. The purpose is to truly enjoy the rights and freedoms written in the” Great Charter “. Joe Liv concluded:” For As far as the subjects are concerned, the kings are terrorists, and they rule by brutal means. “Ellman mentioned:” There is no ‘limited kingship or constitutional monarchy in the soil of sacred kingship. “Mark Bloch said Here is a sharp complaint: the radiant story in the life of the Parliament attracts everyone ’s attention … It is not enough to only focus on the details of the operation of the administrative, judicial and financial institutions; an abstract analysis is drawn from the works of a few theorists The concept of authoritarianism or sacred rights is also not enough.
In modern historiography research, “familiarity” has become a basic indicator, that is, the research object should be similar to its current counterpart, otherwise it cannot be understood. The purpose of historians is no longer to show the diversity of human nature or society, but Is looking for identity. James Whitman realized: “In order to make modern people familiar with the historical process, historians are increasingly deviating from ancient moral emotions.” In other words, modern people live in a world of disenchantment, people’s sovereignty and constitutional system In China, they are more willing to understand the status of the king from the “rational bureaucracy” in the Weber sense. The king was mediocre, ordinary, dwarfed and even reactionary.
This paradigm stipulates the direction of academic questions, implies methods and materials for problem solving, and limits the scope of answers; while conflicting directions, methods, and materials are ignored or marginalized. In the same way, even if the records of the king’s touch treatment of scabies appear on the royal books on a large scale, they will not be noticed by scholars; touch treatment of scabies as an important authority of the king is also ignored. Francis Oakley mentioned: “The constitutional scholars of the twentieth century won the victory. They ignored many problems of the monarchy and the study of a true history for many centuries. Trying to understand it. “John Benton also accused:” Why have historians tried so hard to ignore the huge amount of historical material that will change the course of medieval history for such a long period of time! ”
Jacques Le Goff confessed in the “Introduction” of “King’s Miracle” that the book has not received much attention in the academic world since its publication. In fact, before the middle of the twentieth century, only two important political philosophical works cited “The Miracle of the King”, namely Cantorowitz’s “Two Kings’ Bodies” and Vogelin’s “History of Medieval Political Ideas”. Paradoxically, the works of Cantolovitz and Voegelin did not receive much attention until the middle of the twentieth century, and their situation with The King’s Miracle didn’t get fundamentally improved until the late twentieth century. The reason is that the academic circles in the late twentieth century began to reflect on the academic shortcomings of the anti-kingdom theory of the people’s sovereignty theory, and re-evaluated the special status and significance of the king group in the medieval and early modern British and French political life. In other words, the theme of “King’s Miracle” fits and leads this trend of cognitive transformation. It sets a model: if you want to explore the true political status and significance of the king, you need to make a transformation at the epistemological level, and take the king as the narrative starting point and core approach.
“King’s Miracle” establishes the basic principle of the king’s narrative, that is, he recognizes that the king is a special political group and cannot be equal to other groups or organizations. For example, the Principality of Burgundy in the fifteenth century has an administrative system, judicial system, and auditing system that are as complex as France. Duke Philip even sits on par with the King of England, the King of France, and the German Emperor. However, the Principality quickly declined in the late 15th century and did not complete the transformation of the nation-state like Britain and France. A rationalized administrative, judicial, or fiscal system does not necessarily guarantee the success of the country ’s transformation. The British and French kings have an advantage that the Duke of Burgundy, as well as many other Dukes and counts, have not achieved in shaping social ideology, as Bloch said: “To consolidate an authority shaken by years of internal conflict, purely relying on administrative means is not enough; it is necessary to strengthen the prestige of the dynasty in the hearts of subjects and subjects’ belief in the legitimacy of the incumbent monarch.” In terms of illness, no one else within the royal family can share this magical ability. “Only the Dharma King is coated with heaven ’s sacred oil, and the queen is only coated with natural oil. The queen ’s hand does not have the magical power of the king ’s hand, and no queen can be touched by her alone. Heal the sickle. “On May 30, 1960, Charles II, who was in exile, learned that he had been approved by the parliament as a king, and immediately held a grand ceremony to touch and treat the sickle. In 1865, Charles II ’s illegitimate son, Monmouth, who was once regarded as the heir to the throne, armed against James II under the name of Puritanism, and at the same time touched and treated the sickle. Later, touch treatment of scab patients became one of Monmouth’s rebellious crimes. When the king is no longer king, the ability to touch and cure scabies disappears immediately. In other words, the miraculous ability to treat scabies has a one-to-one correspondence with the identity of the king, proving the uniqueness of the king group.
In a nutshell, for a long time, the feudal narrative and Whig narrative models dominated the discussion of the English and French kings in the Middle Ages and early modern times. None of them are historical narratives that really use the king as the starting point, core and destination. They have their own problem domains, research objects, materials and methods. For the sake of argument, they cut and decompose the attributes of the king and select some fragmented ones from them. Fragments as an argument, integrated into their own narrative framework. These two narratives provide modern readers with the familiar mediocre and reactionary image of the king. But this is by no means a complete image of a king. Academia needs to evoke a “king’s narrative”, that is, historical narrative with the king’s attributes as the purpose, in order to restore the image of the king truly and completely, and to more realistically and effectively understand the political history of the Middle Kingdom and early modern England and France.