LGerman historian Ernst Kantorowicz, in his study of medieval monarchy, conceptualizes “The King’s Two Bodies” in his major work. According to this theory, the king has two bodies. The first is mortal and natural and embodies the earthly function: as such, like any holder of an authority, he is called upon to make decisions, sometimes good sometimes bad, in the context of daily political life.
The second is supernatural and immortal and has a symbolic function, that of embodying the nation, the people, the monarchy of divine right. This immortal body, present in the mortal one, is transmitted, unalterable, from monarch to monarch. This ensures the continuity of the political institution, which supports consent to the State.
France, which now lives in the Republic, has remained strongly attached to the two categories of Kantorowicz. To be convinced of this, it suffices to remember the figures of De Gaulle and Mitterrand; these are regarded as monarchs, insofar as they strove to personify the second symbolic body, thanks in particular to the deployment of an adequate decorum and to the maintenance of a certain distance with the subjects, which incites them. to respect.
In the context of absolute monarchy, touching the first body is touching the second and is sacrilege. The press remembers this and summons the categories of Kantorowicz when it declares that to slap President Macron is to slap the Republic. The reactions of the political class are unanimously in the same direction.
It seems to me, however, that the inseparability of the two bodies has been well established for some time, more precisely since the presidency of Sarkozy; this trend was consolidated during Holland’s five-year term. These two presidents did not fully fulfill their role, insofar as they neglected to embody the second body of the king. Emmanuel Macron, their successor, by reinstating a certain verticality of power, tried to find it. In vain. The Jupiterian posture has deteriorated in Jupinian gesticulation (Jupin, it is the trivial name of Jupiter in the fables of La Fontaine).
I will therefore stand out from the media-political discourse by posing that it is the first body of the king that was slapped – it is the individual Macron who was attacked – and not the second, for the reason that I was advancing more above, that of the disjunction of the two bodies and the progressive deliquescence of the second.
Thus, the slap on Macron signs, in my humble opinion, the obsolescence of the theological-political fiction imagined by the German historian. And the end of power?
Jean-Louis Robert, Sainte-Clotilde (Reunion)