Cite

Kantorowicz, Ernst Hartwig

Kantorowicz, Ernst Hartwig, 1895–1963, German-American historian, b. Poznań (then Posen, Germany), studied Univ. of Berlin, Univ. of Heidelberg (Ph.D., 1921). As a young man he was a German nationalist, fighting in World War I and with a right-wing militia. His political conservatism is reflected in his extremely favorable and controversial biography of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (1927, tr. 1931, 1957). Kantorowicz was (1933–35) a professor at the Univ. of Frankfurt, but as an assimilated Jew was forced to retire under the Nazis and fled (1938) to England. He briefly taught at Oxford before coming to the United States, where he became (1939) a professor at the Univ. of California, Berkeley. Kantorowicz resigned his post in 1950, refusing to sign a anticommunist loyalty oath, which he compared to oaths required under Hitler. From 1951 until his death he was a professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton. His masterpiece, The King's Two Bodies (1957), a study in medieval political theology, asserted that in the Middle Ages a sovereign was considered to have both a mortal physical body and a transcendent spiritual body emblematic of his divine right to rule.

See biography by R. E. Lerner (2017); study by A. Boureau (2001).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Historians, European: Biographies