Rezension über:

Dirk Reimann: Vom Himmel erwählt. Herrschertod und Herrscherbegräbnis im Zeitalter Ludwigs XIV. (= Kasseler Manuskripte zur Sepulkralkultur; Bd. 1), Kassel: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V. 2002, ISBN 978-3-924447-19-9, EUR 12,00
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Rezension von:
Jeroen Duindam
Universität Utrecht
Redaktionelle Betreuung:
Michael Kaiser
Empfohlene Zitierweise:
Jeroen Duindam: Rezension von: Dirk Reimann: Vom Himmel erwählt. Herrschertod und Herrscherbegräbnis im Zeitalter Ludwigs XIV., Kassel: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V. 2002, in: sehepunkte 3 (2003), Nr. 10 [15.10.2003], URL:

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Dirk Reimann: Vom Himmel erwählt

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"Vom Himmel erwählt" is a 78-page study of the death and burial of rulers in the age of Louis XIV, published on CD-rom. Reimann's text includes brief introductory and concluding chapters, and a more substantial core outlining the variety of practices following a ruler's death. The three middle chapters of the book offer information on the hour of death itself, on the ceremonies connected to the funeral, and on the routines of mourning. Reimann gives an adequate description of these practices, based partly on literature, partly on contemporary sources such as the "Zeremonialwissenschaftler", memoirs and correspondences. This section of the text is a useful and sometimes entertaining compilation of descriptive material.

The introduction and the first chapter on ceremony, and the conclusion, however, have less to offer. We find familiar clichés about the Sun King and ceremony, and the easy conceptualisation that is unfortunately prevalent in recent court history. The final section somewhat superficially connects the preceding description to the thesis of 'Entzauberung'. Reimann is in good company here: recently major historians such as Peter Burke or Paul Kleber Monod have reiterated the thesis in various forms. [1] Undoubtedly, we can find changes in the religious sensibilities of rulers and their environment. Yet by hastily repeating the accepted axiom, Reimann missed the opportunity to chart the process in a more questioning way. Indeed, the notion of 'Entzauberung' needs a more careful consideration, along the lines of Marc Bloch's "Rois Thaumaturges". [2] The basis of Reimann's discussion, moreover, remains very small: a selection of familiar sources, some of them in abridged and translated form.

On the whole, this reader had the impression that "Vom Himmel erwählt" was published in an immature form. The author should have broadened his basis and strengthened his argument before publishing his work - notwithstanding the fact that the publisher explicitly notes that the series has a 'Werkstattcharakter'.


[1] Peter Burke: The Fabrication of Louis XIV, New Haven / London 1992 (deutsch: Ludwig XIV. Die Inszenierung des Sonnenkönigs, Frankfurt am Main 1995); Paul Kléber Monod: The Power of Kings. Monarchy and Religion in Europe 1589-1715, New Haven / London 1999.

[2] Marc Bloch: Les Rois thaumaturges. Étude sur le caractère surnaturel attribué a la puissance royale particulièrement en France et en Angleterre, Paris 1983 (zuerst 1924; deutsch: Die wundertätigen Könige. Mit einem Vorwort von Jacques Le Goff. Aus dem Französischen übersetzt von Claudia Märtl, München 1998, nach der Ausgabe von 1983).

Jeroen Duindam