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The madness of kings : personal trauma and the fate of nations

Author: Vivian Hubert Howard Green
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 1993.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
"'Prithee, nuncle, ' the fool asks King Lear, 'tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a yeoman?' 'A king, ' Lear replies, 'a king!'" "A remarkable number of rulers throughout Europe have at various points in their lives been considered 'mad'. This unique and pioneering study traces the connections between madness and kingship from the early centuries of the Christian era to modern times. This provides, on the
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Genre/Form: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Vivian Hubert Howard Green
ISBN: 0312120435 9780312120436
OCLC Number: 29029288
Notes: This work originated in a paper which was given many times in Britain and America and that formed the basis of the author's inaugural lecture delivered as a visiting professor at the University of South Carolina in 1982.
Description: xiii, 322 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents: The wilderness of the mind --
Roman orgies --
Medieval trilogy --
The royal saint --
Happy families --
Spanish madness --
Great Harry --
Swedish saga --
Russian bears --
The bewitched king and his legacy --
Florentine frolics --
Mad George --
Danish charade --
The swan king --
'An infirmity' of politicians --
Madmen in jackboots.
Responsibility: Vivian Green.

Abstract:

"'Prithee, nuncle, ' the fool asks King Lear, 'tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a yeoman?' 'A king, ' Lear replies, 'a king!'" "A remarkable number of rulers throughout Europe have at various points in their lives been considered 'mad'. This unique and pioneering study traces the connections between madness and kingship from the early centuries of the Christian era to modern times. This provides, on the one hand, a fascinating analysis of the ways in which madness, interpreted broadly, has affected rulers in the past as well as dictators in the present and, on the other, an assessment of the impact that this has made on the peoples under their authority. The author cites examples ranging from the 'bewitched' Charles VI of France, whose fragility of mind was such that he believed for a time that he was made of glass and might break, to George III, whose 'peculiarity of constitution' baffled contemporaries; according to The London Chronicle, his illness 'was owing solely to his drinking the waters of Cheltenham'." "King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the patron of Richard Wagner, was deposed on the basis of a medical report that pronounced the king to be 'in a very advanced state of insanity' which made him 'incapable of exercising government'. This is a theme that recurs throughout the book and leads the author to argue that mental health has played a determinant part in the making of history. The horrific manner in which this has been seen to take place in the twentieth century underlines the importance of this challenging and thought-provoking study to our understanding not only of history but also of contemporary politics."

"King Ludwig's medical report concluded: 'Gripped by the illusion that he holds absolute power in abundance ... he stands like a blind man without a guide at the edge of an abyss.' In Shakespeare's King Lear blindness provided a means of insight. For the first time this volume offers an analysis of the actual consequences of the 'mad king' in the history of Europe."--Jacket.

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