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

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Dec 13 19:32:26 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.
And presumably "The king is dead, long live the queen"--referring of
course to the new monarch, not her dowager (step-)mother--would have
been first attested in England or maybe the Low Countries, but in any
case NOT in France.


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