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

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Dec 13 16:10:59 UTC 2005

Yes, in France, earlier than Louis XIV (1715), as
an 18th century expert informs me:

According to Marc Bloch, The Royal Touch: Sacred
Monarchy and Scrofula in England and France
(1961; English translation 1973):  'The cry, "the
king is dead, long live the king", was used to
our certain knowledge for the first time at the
funeral of Francis I [of France]'  (p. 127) -- so
in 1547 -- but Bloch goes on to say that the
thesis of 'the demise of one king instantly made
the legitimate heir his successor' was
'officially professed more or less everywhere' by
the end of the 13th century, although not where
monarchy was elective (e.g. the Empire,
Poland).  I suspect it's much older than that.

Another expert writes: The original edition of
[Bloch's] book was published in 1924 under the
title of "Les Rois Thaumaturges. Étude sur le
caractère surnaturel attribué à la puissance
royale, particulièrement en France et en Anglaterre".

At 12/13/2005 10:54 AM, you wrote:
>---------------------- Information from the mail
>header -----------------------
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: Dating "The king is dead; long live the king"
>On Sun, 11 Dec 2005, Joel S. Berson 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, ... .
>When working on this one for my book I found it to be a tough nut to
>crack.  The earliest I found was in the _Encyclopaedia Americana_ (1851),
>although it is said to date in French back to the sixteenth century or
>Fred Shapiro
>Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
>Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
>    Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
>Yale Law School                             forthcoming
>e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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