The principle of royal elections was adhered to in virtually all countries throughout the medieval period. Constitutive effects the election had none, although it appeared transposed in the shape of the Recognition in the coronation service. This Recognition still contained the essential element of the original election, in particular the expression of the will and the designation of the candidate by his name. The former election of the king had given way to an election into a kingship. No doubt, the Recognition constituted a purely formal act, but its ancestor should not thereby be overlooked. The Recognition was a powerful reminder of a distant past. We are here presented once again with the characteristic medieval feature that one and the same term - electio - signified two different things: in the original meaning election referred to the actual making of a king: the electors themselves conferred powers on the king, powers which were their own. In the later period, too, election took place, but its meaning had changed into a designation for the office which already existed quite apart form the king. The elected was not king until he had received unction and was crowned, hence did not begin to count his regnal years until the coronation. This consideration should facilitate our understanding of the nature of the royal office as an ecclesiastical office. For the king s office was seen from the teleological standpoint. The designation of the kingly office as a dignitas, honor, was apt to underline only the sublime status of the individual king within the universal Church. That the concept of the royal office as an ecclesiastical one opened the gate gates to clerical intervention needs no explanation.
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