MH 6

Karina Kellermann/Alheydis Plassmann/Christian Schwermann (edd.), Criticising the Ruler in Pre-Modern Societies – Possibilities, Chances, and Methods. Kritik am Herrscher in vormodernen Gesellschaften – Möglichkeiten, Chancen, Methoden (Macht und Herrschaft 6), Göttingen 2019.

MH_006Collected contributions to the conference on Spannungsfeld D that took place in  Bonn from April 12 to 14, 2018 [follow-up report in German] [conference report in German on H-Soz-Kult, external link] [extended conference report in German on H-Germanistik, external link].


Link to the website of our publishers



When looking at pre-modern monarchical societies, one does not expect to observe fundamental dissent directed at the social order as such or at the political system. As a rule, criticism was limited to individual monarchs, their performance and decisions. While discontent could lead to insurrection and rebellion, which normally only culminated in the ruler being replaced by another monarchical figurehead, the subtler methods of voicing criticism were applied within a framework of legality, of a set of customs or of a code of rules of the game and intended to improve the performance of the incumbent or reform his conduct at court. The various forms of verbal or staged censure of rulers in pre-modern monarchical societies are the subject of this volume.




  • Karina Kellermann/Alheydis Plassmann/Christian Schwermann, Criticising the Ruler – Possibilities, Chances, and Methods. Introduction, 11–32.
  • Karina Kellermann/Alheydis Plassmann/Christian Schwermann, Kritik am Herrscher – Möglichkeiten, Chancen, Methoden. Einleitung, 33–54.
  • Egon Flaig, Der römische Prinzipat. Monarchische Herrschaften typisieren – auf den Spuren von Foucault, Bourdieu und Max Weber, 55–88.
  • Matthew Giancarlo, The Other British Constitution. Fürstenspiegel Texts, Popular Constitutionalism, and the Critique of Kingship in the Franco-British De regimine Tradition, 89–118.
  • Annette Gerok-Reiter, Variationen zwischen Herrscherkritik und -idealisierung in Veldekes ‚Eneasroman‘, 119–142.
  • Lisa Cordes, Megalomanie und hohle Bronze. Die Kolossalstatue als Vehikel von Herrscherkritik, 143–170.
  • Gloria Chicote, The Rebellious Discourse of the Common People in the romancero castellano of the XV and XVI Centuries, 171–180.
  • Birgit Ulrike Münch, La grosse banquière und nòstre bon rei Enric. Formen bildimpliziter Kritik an der/dem Herrschenden um Maria de’ Medici (1573–1642), 181–210.
  • Heiner Roetz, On Political Dissent in Warring States China, 211–236.
  • Matthew Strickland, Dreaming of Reform. Visions and Admonitions as Criticism of the Ruler in the Anglo-Norman and Angevin Realms, 237–266.
  • Lena Oetzel, Debating, Petitioning, Legislating. Criticizing the Monarch in Elizabethan Parliaments, 267–298.
  • Martin Powers, Theories of Dissent and their Institutional Correlates in China, 299–308.
  • Raji C. Steineck, Mythologischer Dissens. Über eine ungewohnte Form politischer Kritik in der japanischen Geschichte, 309–330.
  • Maureen Perrie, Holy Fools (iurodivye) as Critics of the Tsar in Early Modern Russia, 331–348.
  • Mohamad El-Merheb, “There is no just ruler at this time!” Political Censure in Pre-Modern Islamic Juristic Discourses, 349–376.
  • Stephen Church, When does Advice become Criticism? Criticising John Lackland before Magna Carta, 377–392.
  • Jan-Dirk Müller, Panegyrik und Didaxe als Herrscherkritik. Erasmus’ von Rotterdam ‚Iulius exclusus e coelis‘, ‚Institutio principis Christiani‘ und ‚Panegyricus‘ auf Philipp den Schönen, 393–410.
  • Charles West, “And how, if you are a Christian, can you hate the emperor?” Reading a Seventh-Century Scandal in Carolingian Francia, 411–430.


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