History, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 1989


Published in ALBION: A QUARTERLY JOURNAL CONCERNED WITH BRITISH STUDIES, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Summer, 1989), pp. 191-205. Copyright © 1989 Appalachian State University, published by University of Chicago Press. Used by permission.


This essay will explore and analyze responses to Mary and Elizabeth's popular religious practices in regard of the royal touch and the Maundy ceremony, and examine how these responses reflect the changing nature of monarchy in the sixteenth century. Throughout medieval and early modern England there was a strong belief in magical healers, and the king was the most magical of all. Kings touched to cure the afflicted in England since the time of the saintly Edward the Confessor. After the Norman Conquest it seems that English kings saw the effect of the French people spontaneously going to their king to be cured and copied the measure as an effective means to gain religious-political support. Yet the practice seems to have waxed and waned in England in the Middle Ages.

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