Cis Oceanum et Ultra or about the dignity of the university and the scholar. Ernst Kantorowicz and his work

Jerzy Strzelczyk


Ernst (-Hartwig) Kantorowicz, born in Poznań (then Germany) in 1895, died in Princeton in 1963, is one of the most distinguished and influential historians (mediaevalists) of the 20th century. A descendent of an affluent Jewish-German (totally naturalized) family, after the rebirth of the Polish state in 1918 moved together with the family to Germany, took part in the World War I, struggled against the Polish insurgents and against the communists in Berlin and Munich, studied a.o. in Heidelberg, where he joined the famous Stefan George circle. After publishing the monograph on Emperor Frederick the Second (1927-1931) he have been calling
as professor in Frankfurt a.M., as consequence to the decisions of the Nazi-government he retired in 1933/1934 and eventually in 1938 emigrated to Great Britain and finally to the USA, where (first in Berkeley Ca., then in Princeton) he lived and worked until his death. Besides his fundamental monographs and studies on the medieval political liturgy (Laudes regiae 1946) and the political theology (The Kings’ Two Bodies 1957), his life was characterized by an extraordinary stable opinion and the determination to defend it, as was proved first in 1933 in Nazi- Germany and the second time in Berkeley in 1949 (during the s.c. Loyalty Oath Controversion). This article is an abbreviated and partially changed version of the introduction to the Polish translation of the main work by Kantorowicz (The King’s Two Bodies), to appear in this year.


Ernst Kantorowicz; middle ages; political theology; scholars’ exodus from Nazi-Germany

Full Text:

PDF (Polish)