This collection of essays is a pioneering survey of the spiritual dimensions of kingship in eighteenth-century Europe. It investigates the role of clergymen in the mechanics of the court, the religious observances of monarchs and their entourages, and the importance of religious images and ceremonial in underpinning royal power. The volume compares the British, French, Russian, and some of the German monarchies in order to allow comparisons to be drawn between different national and especially confessional settings. Based on original research and new source material, the fifteen essays by established scholars chart mostly unknown territory. Previous research on the subject has focused on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at the expense of the age of Enlightenment which has widely been regarded as a period of desacralization of monarchy. The essays open up new perspectives on the function of court clerics, conspicuous and internalized forms of aulic devotion, the gendered framing of religion, the purpose of court ritual, and the divide between the public and private spheres of monarchy.
Overall the essays maintain that despite the gradual decline of monarchy by divine right, religion still permeated almost all aspects of court life and monarchical representation. The volume thus challenges received wisdom about the disenchantment of kingship and the rise of more rationalized forms of absolutist government during the period between c.1688 and 1789.