Dating "The king is dead; long live the king"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun Dec 11 16:21:29 UTC 2005

On 12/11/05, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> When was the phrase "The king is dead; long live the king" first
> used?  What is the earliest written occurrence?  Any kingdom and
> language qualifies -- English, French, Sumerian, Egyptian, ... .

Bartlett's dates it to the death of Louis XIV (in 1715)...

QUOTATION:      The King is dead! Long live the King!
ATTRIBUTION:    The death of Louis XIV. was announced by the captain of
the bodyguard from a window of the state apartment. Raising his
truncheon above his head, he broke it in the centre, and throwing the
pieces among the crowd, exclaimed in a loud voice, "Le Roi est mort!"
Then seizing another staff, he flourished it in the air as he shouted,
"Vive le Roi!" --Pardoe: Life of Louis XIV., vol. iii. p. 457.

--Ben Zimmer

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