Ernst Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies is concerned with tracing the development, through the Middle Ages, of abstract concepts of the public good as separable from the monarch. Renaissance scholars, however, tend to read Kantorowicz as if English Renaissance drama collapses representations of the polity and public good into the monarch's sacred person. Renaissance equity, in particular, has recently been defined as the sacred monarch's prerogative, and has been confused with Carl Schmitt's sovereign decision on the exception. This essay argues by contrast that Renaissance thinkers saw equity as an enlargement of the law by fictions of intention for the public good, and that, accordingly, Renaissance drama invites audiences and citizens alike to engage in compassionate and equitable fiction-making by critiquing monarchical claims to sacred status.
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