Body politic

Cover of Hobbes' Leviathan shows a body formed of multitudinous citizens, surmounted by a king's head.[1]

The body politic is a medieval metaphor that likens a nation to a corporation[2] which had serious historical repercussions throughout recent history and therefore giving the Crown: "As a legal entity today the Crown as executive is regarded as a corporation sole or aggregate",[3][4] a corporate entity.[5][6][7] Maitland argues that the Crown (as a legal term) is a convenient cover for ignorance and traces the legal term Crown as corporation sole originally from the 16th century and argues that it was both a political and legal ploy originally reserved for the monarch of the day with the combination of medieval Roman law amalgamated into the early medieval domain of early church property law.[8][9] The modern understanding of the concept means a body politic comprises all the people in a particular country considered as a single group. The analogy typically includes reference to the sovereign head of government as head of state,[10] though the analogy may also be extended to other anatomical parts, as in political readings of Aesop's fable of "The Belly and the Members".

A later European reference to the concept appears in The Book of the Body Politic (1407) by poet and court writer Christine de Pizan, in which she admits having borrowed the concept from a letter of Plutarch's to the Roman Emperor Trajan but does not mention John of Salisbury's work, Policraticus.[11][12] The metaphor appears in the French language as the corps-état.[13] The metaphor was elaborated in the Renaissance, and subsequently, as medical knowledge based on Galen was challenged by thinkers such as William Harvey. Analogies were drawn between supposed causes of disease and disorder and their equivalents in the political field, viewed as plagues or infections that might be remedied with purges and nostrums.[14]

Medieval origins

The term "Body politic" (the political body of society) derives from the mediæval political concept of the King's two bodies first noted by mediaeval historian Ernst Kantorowicz, as a point of theology as much as statehood. However, the person to give the concept some legal bite and codified reality, as much as legitimacy as well as Sovereignty, was the 14th century judge Sir William de Shareshull in 1351 for the offence of high treason[15][16] in the aftermath of the Barons war. However, by the time of the fifteenth-century judge Sir John Fortescue the concept moves away from theology to jurisprudence in his The Difference between an Absolute and a Limited Monarchy, written from exile in about 1462 . Fortescue explains that the character angelus (divine character) of the king is his royal power, derived from angels and separate from the frail physical powers of his body. However, he uses the phrase body politic itself only in its modern sense, to describe the realm, or shared rule, of Brutus, mythical first king of England, and how he and his fellow exiles had covenanted to form a body politic. Unusually for the time, Fortescue was writing in English and not Latin: "made a body pollitike callid a reawme." The early medieval period (13th century) saw a general and radical shift in the idea of the political body and sovereignty and who was to be ultimate ruler of humankind.This constant shift in Translatio imperii and The Halo of perpetuity(Kantorowicz reasoning)[17] transformed the king's persona from Liturgy to legal science, argues Kantorowicz.[18] However, the Norman conquest proved one thing ,quite surprisingly enough, the king wasn't the ultimate and major landowner with just 20% of land ownership as William the Conqueror[19] found out to his disgust and chagrin, which ultimately led to the Doomsday book being complied. With Plenitudo potestatis, Unam sanctam (a Papal bull) extra Ecclesiam nulla salus and the Sun and moon allegory now part of the armoury of jurisdictional power of the papacy and both Canon law, medieval political theology; descending into the infamous Inquisition and heresy as the ultimate legal reality which meant both the Roman Catholic Church and Papal supremacy couldn't be ignored(not without fear of excommunication and in some cases judicial execution). The church, which ultimately had powerful claims to sovereignty due to their immense wealth and vast monetary resources which included a clever taxation system establishing the legal validity of the tithe system which baffled legal experts of the day of its historical lineage and origin, such as Sir William Blackstone, for example, not its legal validity; such as their (the church's) enormous network and ownership of land, law making and the then-University and education system.

Other Languages
العربية: جهاز سياسي
Nederlands: Politiek lichaam
português: Corpo político