The Tsar’s Two Bodies

in Canadian-American Slavic Studies
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Originally delivered as a lecture at Columbia University in the fall of 1974, this classic text has circulated among Professor Edward L. Keenan’s students and colleagues for decades, but has never been published. The lecture draws upon the author’s textual work, including his then recently published book challenging the provenance of the Correspondence attributed to Tsar Ivan IV and Prince Andrei Kurbskii, to explore how his conclusions about this and other texts impinge on the received historiographical traditions about power, dynasty, and the life and reign of Ivan IV “the Terrible.” The lecture employs the model developed by Ernst Kantorowicz in his The King’s Two Bodies to understand the biographical details of Ivan IV, including the results of the autopsy of Ivan’s remains. The lecture provides an early, yet penetrating glimpse into the thinking of one of the most influential historians of Russia in the sixteenth century and of the reign of Ivan the Terrible.

The Tsar’s Two Bodies

in Canadian-American Slavic Studies




Edward L. Keenan“Muscovite Political Folkways,” Russian Review 45 no. 2 (1986): 115–181.


See e.g. Keenan“Ivan the Terrible and His Women,” Russian History 37 no. 4 (Winter 2010): 322–359.


Ernst KantorowiczThe King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press1957).


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