Interregnum

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An interregnum is a period between monarchs, between popes of the Roman Catholic Church, emperors of Holy Roman Empire, Polish kings (elective monarchy) or between consuls of the Roman Republic. It can also refer to the period between the pastorates of ministers in some Protestant churches, or generally, any gap in the continuity of a government, organization, or social order.

In Roman law, interregnum was usually accompanied by the proclamation of justitium (or state of exception, as did Giorgio Agamben demonstrate in his eponymic book - 2005). This is not surprising, as when a sovereign died - or when the Pope died - tumultus (upheavals) usually accompanied the news of a sovereign's death. Progressively, justitium came to significate the public mourning of the sovereign, and not anymore justitium, auctoritas being (mythically) attached to the physical body of the sovereign.

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[edit] Historical periods of interregnum

Particular historical periods known as interregna include:

In some monarchies, such as the United Kingdom, an interregnum is usually avoided due to a rule described as "the king is dead, long live the King", i.e. the heir to the throne becomes a new monarch immediately on his predecessor's death or abdication. This famous phrase signifies the continuity of sovereignty, attached to a personal form of power named Auctoritas. This is not so in other monarchies where the new monarch's reign begins only with coronation or some other formal or traditional event. In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for instance, kings were elected, which often led to relatively long interregna. During that time it was the Polish primate who served as an interrex (ruler between kings). Ernst Kantorowicz's famous theory of the Kings's Two Bodies (1957) showed how auctoritas (Kantorowicz used the synonym term - here - of dignitas) was transferred from the defunct sovereign to the new one.

[edit] Pope's interregnum (or sede vacante)

An interregnum occurs also upon the death of the Roman Catholic Pope, though this is generally known as a sede vacante (vacant seat). The interregnum ends immediately upon election of the new Pope by the College of Cardinals. It used to be a troubled period of riots and upheavals, akin to carnivals inversion of normal habits and laws.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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Interregnum

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