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Fascination with royalty is a commonplace in many societies, both democratic and monarchic. This was particularly true during the early modern period (c. 1500–1800) when the cult of royalty was inextricably bound with Christianity.


The divine right of kings was most fully elaborated in France where tradition held that at the baptism of Clovis (465–511) in 496, a dove descended from heaven bearing an ampoule of chrism, signaling God's selection of an earthly representative. Beginning with the anointing of Louis XII in 1131, the balm from the Sainte Ampoule was used in every French coronation except one until the sacred vial was destroyed by order of the Revolutionary Convention in 1793. God's direct intervention in the consecration of the House of France imbued its kings with a sacred authority and status placing them not only above other humans, but above other kings, who, although they also ruled by God's grace, could claim no such divine sanction.

If direct heavenly approbation performatively reenacted at the coronation were not enough to render the sacred King of France uniquely extraordinary, the royal funerary rites demonstrated his supernatural qualities through engaging the king's two bodies. One body was mortal and died, whereas the other, the body politic of France, was immortal and passed, through an effigy where it rested for a time, from the physical body of the defunct king into that of his successor, literally illustrating the puissant invocation Le roi est mort, vive le roi! [The king is dead, long live the king!] In order to function, this transfer of authority by primogeniture required the submission of the people to their father the king and to God, but questioning the law of the father is also implicit in the nature of this confirmation, revealing its dangerous instability and the vulnerability of the king's sacred infallibility. In this context, and perhaps because they touch most directly on the human, matters of sex and sexuality pertaining to royalty were often subjects for gossip, rumor, innuendo, and slander. All of these might be perceived as means of accessing or even attacking the sacred royal person through the mortal, fallible human, particularly through accusations of queerness, which draws individuals away from the protected realm of Christian approbation, aligning them with sinners and the damned. In this context royal bodies might become loci for undermining the very patriarchal order that they are obliged to promulgate.


Phallic patriarchy is grounded in heteronormative structures that require acceptance in exchange for sanctioning royal authority. This exchange is exemplified by Richard I, Cœur de Lion [Lionheart], King of England (1157–1199) about whom contemporaries, including his father, Henry II (1133–1189), remarked an unusual enthusiasm for male companions, particularly Philippe I of France and Geoffroy de Bretagne. Richard's behavior exceeded the accepted bounds of chivalric homosociality and branded the king a sodomite. Aside from the biblical condemnation of Sodomites (inhabitants of Sodom, whose sins the Bible never definitively enumerates), sodomy rejects the demands of heteronormative patriarchy, a violation that, in a Christian social context, is unnatural, particularly in a king who, through the refutation of divine prescription, undermines his own authority and jeopardizes his kingdom's safety. The chronicler Benoît de Peterborough (d. 1193) recognized this, and by referring to Richard's activities with Philippe I in the same terms as Juvenal's description of the Roman empress Messalina's night at a brothel, strategically marked those activities as perverse violations of the patriarchic order. To realign his reign with the heteronormative imperative, Richard twice performed public acts of penance for the sin of Sodom, surrendering the temporal to the spiritual, submitting to the Father, and thus legitimizing his rule through religious mediation.

Edward II, King of England (1284–1327) was unable to engage similar mediation to stabilize a reign marked by the negative signifiers associated with sodomite kings, including political disorder and the reversal of gender roles. The vox populi associated Piers Gaverston, Richard's favorite, with the king's unsuccessful politics and military defeats. These were attributed to divine disapproval, as was Gaverston's assassination in 1312.

Edward's inability to legitimize his rule through heteronormative signifiers was fatal. Hugh Spencer (1296–1326), Edward's next favorite, humiliated the queen, Isabelle of France (c. 1295–1358), proving the contempt in which sodomites allegedly held patriarchal law. In retaliation, the queen brought military forces from her homeland and incited revolt against the reign of sodomites, which, because it rejected heteronormative patriarchal prescriptions, had no political validity and was in turn rejected by the people. Spencer was executed, and Edward's now entirely mortal body was no longer inviolable, allowing his assassination by a red-hot iron inserted in his anus.

By seizing power, Isabelle operated a gender inversion through phallic appropriation. Inflicting heaven's retribution and punishing her husband as a sodomite, Isabelle reestablished divinely sanctioned rule by placing her son on the throne.

Edward II's violation of patriarchal prescriptions and Isabelle's gendered vengeance had implications for all kings, highlighting their vulnerability to attacks on personal flaws and indiscretions, which assumed overwhelming political significance. In 1588 three works recounting the Gaverston affair were printed in Paris, engaging a discourse that Pierre de L'Estoile interpreted as a warning to Henri III, King of France (1551–1589). As with Edward, Henri's choice of favorites (mignons) upset traditional court structures. This destabilization was reinforced by Henri's association with the foreign, the notion of which was often linked to sodomy in the early modern period. Henri had reigned as King of Poland (1573–1574), and on his journey back to France, he passed through Italy, where he was rumored to have been introduced to sodomy (known in France as le vice italien) in Venice. Henri's alleged Italian inclinations were attributed not only to his supposed sexual experience in Italy but to the malefic influence of the Italian queen mother, Catherine de Médicis (1519–1589). This marked Henri as fatally flawed, as he ostensibly violated the fundamental patriarchal principal of rejecting and conquering the foreign, which he chose to embrace instead. Satires such as the "Sonnet contre les Italiens"[Sonnet against the Italians] reported by L'Estoile in 1575, claimed that:

    Today Italy tyrannizes France
    Overpowered in her yoke that she easily suffers …
    Dividing her subjects to easily destroy them,
    Using one part to destroy the other …
                                (L'Estoile 1575, I: 73)

Along with foreign sexual practices Henri imported social customs, including the use of the feminine majesté as a form of royal address, which required referring to the king, or at least to his sacred body, in the third person as She, a usage to designate men later typical of the developing homosexual subculture of eighteenth-century Paris. This accorded with the king's love of excessive fashions (construed as a feminine trait) and cross-dressing, but presumptively perverted the royal office. If the king were guilty of passive buggery, which was perceived as effeminate and sinful, he allowed the sacred body of the kingdom to be violated through the penetration of his own mortal body, thus jeopardizing the legitimacy of his role as king:

    Our fathers honored the name of King above all.
    This fine name! But since then, our foolishness,
    Particularly that of the courtier, has left it to rust.
    At court one speaks only of "Sa Majesté:
    She goes, She comes, She is, She has been."
    Does this not make the kingdom fall to the distaff? [i.e., turn the king into a queen].
                               (L'Estoile 1575, I: 193)

Henri's alleged lack of masculine qualities was purportedly reflected in his inability to father an heir. The king's perceived weakness and failure to assert phallic order in a kingdom violently divided by religious conflict was concretized when he was forced by the duc de Guise (1550–1588), leader of the ultra-Catholic faction, to flee Paris in 1588. Efforts to establish an image of magnificent royalty were unsuccessful and deteriorated into one of demonic effeminacy as witnessed by the at least forty-five published attacks on the king dating from 1576 to 1589. The king's assassination by the Dominican friar Jacques Clément (1567–1589) was a symbolic reassertion of patriarchal order and the rule of the Father.


Such was the cult of the king, especially in France, that although his infallible majesty could not be conferred to others, those closest to him, particularly the queen, received an exceptional degree of grace. As the Institution au droict des François of Guy Coquille explains: "The King is Monarch, & has no companion in his Royal Majesty. Exterior honors may be communicated by Kings to their wives, but that which is of his Majesty, representing his power & dignity, resides inseparably in his person alone" (Coquille 1607, p. 3). The early modern public fascination with the king's quasi-supernatural status subjected him and all those near him to intense scrutiny, particularly in relation to the patriarchal phallic order that they embodied and were obliged to confirm in order to justify the legitimacy of royal rule and the favor in which God held their house and the kingdom.

Among the most violent political and personal attacks on the sexuality and gender of a royal personage was the discursive construction of a sexually deviant Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France (1755–1793), who was bent on destroying the kingdom in favor of her native Austria. Marie-Antoinette was denigrated in pornographic discourse that not only accused her of having sexual relations with untold numbers of men, including her brother-in-law, comte d'Artois (1757–1836), but with women as well. Depicting the queen in outrageously obscene situations became a national pastime, particularly after the Affair of the Diamond Necklace in 1785. Pamphlets frequently depicted Marie-Antoinette engaged in lesbian sex with her close friends, including the princesse de Lamballe (1749–1792) and the duchesse de Polignac (1749–1793). Pornographic publications such as Le Godmiché royal (The royal dildo) (1789), which depicts the queen as a lascivious Juno perverting Hebe, often cast Marie-Antoinette in a stereotypically masculine, sexually active, role. Appropriating phallic authority the queen reputedly dominated the king (and through him the kingdom), forsaking her marriage and violating all prescriptions of primogeniture and Salic Law, which demanded that queens remain submissive vessels for the procreation of French monarchs. By allegedly providing hordes of men access to the royal womb, the queen ostensibly threatened the legitimacy of the Bourbon succession and of the royal institution itself. Perverse accusations that the queen committed incest with her youngest son, heir to the throne, were viciously calculated to illustrate her alleged violation of the very foundations of patriarchal order, as incest between mother and son, as French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (1901–1981) explains in "Le Stade du miroir" (The mirror stage) (1949), is the ultimate revolt against the rule of the Father.

As with any group grounded in the patriarchic heteronormative, royalty may be attacked and its authority undermined when it is perceived as violating imperatives of the social structures that legitimize its exceptional position above ordinary humans. Such strategic repositioning of God's chosen ministers theoretically exposes individual personages such as Edward II, Henri III, and Marie-Antoinette to divine retribution operated through popular action. In turn, this retribution, which leaves kingdoms without God-sanctioned rule by shattering the foundations of primogeniture, proves the vulnerability and instability of the very social structures that impose their imperatives of gender and sexuality as prerequisites for legitimate royal government by divine right.

see also Bugger, Buggery; Queens; Queering, Queer Theory, and Early Modern Culture.


Coquille, Guy. 1607. Institution au droict des François. Paris: A. Langelier.

Crawford, Katherine B. 2003. "Love, Sodomy, and Scandal: Controlling the Sexual Reputation of Henri III." Journal of the History of Sexuality 12(4): 513-542.

Doherty, Paul. 2003. Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II. New York: Caroll & Graff Publishers.

Godard, Didier. 2001. L'Autre Faust: L'Homosexualité masculine pendant la Renaissance. Montblanc, France: H&O.

Godard, Didier. 2002. Le Goût de Monsieur: l'homosexualité masculine au XVIIe siècle. Montblanc, France: H&O.

Godard, Didier. 2004. Dictionnaire des chefs d'état homosexuels ou bisexuels. Béziers, France: H&O.

Goodman, Deena, ed. 2003. Marie-Antoinette: Writings on the Body of a Queen. New York: Routledge.

Henri III. 1959. Lettres d'Henri III, roi de France [Letters of Henri III, king of France], ed. Michel François. Paris: Klincksieck.

Hunt, Lynn. 2003. "The Many Bodies of Marie-Antoinette: Political Pornography and the Problem of the Feminine in the French Revolution." In Marie-Antoinette: Writings on the Body of a Queen, ed. Deena Goodman. New York: Routledge.

Jackson, Richard A. 1984. Vive le Roi! A History of the French Coronation from Charles V to Charles X. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Jordan, Mark. 1997. The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kantorowicz, Ernst Hartwig. 1957. The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Keufler, Mathew S. "Male Friendship and the Suspicion of Sodomy in Twelfth-Century France." 2003. In Gender and Difference in the Middle Ages, ed. Sharon Farmer and Carol Braun Pasternack. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Lever, Evelyne. 1991. Marie-Antoinette. Paris: Fayard.

L'Estoile, Pierre de. 1982. Mémoires-Journaux. 12 vols., ed. Gustave Brunet. Paris: Tallandier.

Peterborough, Benoît de. 1867. Gesta regis Henrici secundi benedicti: The Chronicle of the Reigns of Henry II and Richard I. 2 vols., ed. William Stubbs. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, Dyer.

Poirier, Guy. 1996. L'Homosexualité dans l'imaginaire de la Renaissance. Paris: H. Champion.

Saaler, Mary. 1997. Edward II: 1307–1327. London: Rubicon Press.

Solnon, Jean-François. 2001. Henri III: un désir de majesté. Paris: Perrin.

Sponsler, Claire. 2001. "The King's Boyfriend: Froissart's Political Theater of 1326." In Queering the Middle Ages, ed. Glenn Burger and Steven F. Kruger. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Thomas, Chantal. 1989. La Reine scélérate: Marie-Antoinette dans les pamphlets. Paris: Seuil.

Thomas, Chantal. 2003. "The Heroine of the Crime: Marie-Antoinette in Pamphlets." In Marie-Antoinette: Writings on the Body of a Queen, ed. Deena Goodman. New York: Routledge.

Zorach, Rebecca E. 1998. "The Matter of Italy: Sodomy and the Scandal of Style in Sixteenth-Century France." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 28(3): 581-609.

                                          Desmond Hosford

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Compensation for the use of property, usually copyrighted works, patented inventions, or natural resources, expressed as a percentage of receipts from using the property or as a payment for each unit produced.

BP America Production Co. v. Burton

The U.S. government leases vast tracts of land to companies that extract oil and gas from the ground. The Department of Interior negotiates these leases and receives royalty payments from the companies. These companies are responsible for accurate calculation and payment of the royalty but the government may audit the records if it believes it has been underpaid. A question arose whether an administrative payment order issued by the government was subject to a 6-year statute of limitations provision governing government contract actions. The Supreme Court, in BP America Production Co. v. Burton, __U.S.__, 127 S.Ct., __L.Ed.2d __ (2006), ruled that this form of administrative action to recover owed royalty payments was not governed by the statute of limitations law.

The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (MLA), 30 U.S.C.A. §181 et seq., authorizes the Secretary of Interior to lease public land to private parties for the production of oil and gas. MLA lessees must pya a royalty of at least "12.5 percent in amount or value of the production removed or sold from the lease." In 1982 Congress passed the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management act (FOGRMA), 30 U.S.C.A. §1701 et seq., to modernize the system of accounting that tracked the payment of oil and gas royalties. FOGRMA ordered the Secretary of Interior to audit all current and past lease accounts and take actions to make additional collections or refunds as warranted. The secretary delegated this authority to the department's Minerals Management Service (MMS). MMS audits royalty payments and notifies lessees about a perceived deficiency. If the lessees' response is not persuasive, MMS issues an order requiring payment of the amount due. The lessee may appeal the MMS payment order to the director of MMS and then to the Interior Board of Land Appeals. If the government wishes to recover royalty payments in a lawsuit filed in court, it must do so within six years because of 6-year statute of limitations.

A dispute over royalty payments arose between BP America Production Co. and the MMS. BP held gas leases in New Mexico's San Juan Basin for over fifty years. The leases required BP to pay the statutory 12.5 percent royalty. For years the company had calculated this royalty as a percentage of the value of the gas at the moment it was produced at the well. In 1996, MMS directed BP to calculate the royalties on the value of the gas after it was treated to meet quality requirements for introduction into the main U.S. pipelines. Based on this formula, MMS in 1997 ordered the company to pay additional royalties for the period from January 1989 to December 1996 in order to cover the difference between the value of the treated gas and the lower value at the well. The company appealed the order, arguing that MMS's valuation formula was wrong. In addition, it contended that payment order was barred in party by the 6-year statute of limitations provision. BP lost its administrative appeal and then filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court. The district court rejected BP's statute of limitations argument, as did the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court agreed to hear BP's appeal because the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that administrative payment orders were covered by the statute of limitations provision.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, upheld the ruling of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the Court, looked first to the statutory text and noted that unless otherwise defined, "statutory terms are generally interpreted in accordance with their ordinary meaning." Read in this way, the meaning of the statute of limitations provision was clear. The statute of limitations applied when the government started "any action for money damages" by filing a "complaint" to enforce a contract. The 6-year limit ran from the point when "the right of action accrues." Justice Alito seized on the terms "action" and "complaint," for they are ordinarily used in connection with judicial, not administrative proceedings. In 1966, when the statute of limitations provision was enacted, these terms were commonly limited to judicial proceedings. There was nothing in the 1966 provision that suggested that Congress intended to have these terms to apply more broadly to administrative proceedings.

BP cited many statutes and regulations that suggested the term "action" applied to both judicial and administrative proceedings. Justice Alito disagreed, pointing out that none of the cited examples used the word "action" alone; rather, each example included a modifier, such as "civil or administrative action." Therefore, the pattern of usage "buttresses the point that the term 'action,' standing alone, ordinarily refers to a judicial proceeding." In addition, the Court rejected BP's contention that the MMS payment order constituted a "complaint" under the statute of limitations provision. The payment order lacked the "essential attributes of a complaint" and it imposed a legally binding obligation on the lessee to pay. Justice Alito concluded that "absent congressional action changing this rule," the statute of limitations did not apply to administrative proceedings.

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Compensation for the use of property, usually copyrighted works, patented inventions, or natural resources, expressed as a percentage of receipts from using the property or as a payment for each unit produced.

When a person creates a book, song, play, or painting, the work is considered intellectual property. Similarly, when an inventor receives a patent on his invention, the inventor has intellectual property rights in the thing created. Typically, authors, songwriters, composers, playwrights, and inventors do not have the financial ability to fully exploit the commercial use of their creations. They must turn to businesses that specialize in the marketing of intellectual property. When a business obtains the right to market the creation, the creator usually receives compensation in the form of a royalty.

A royalty agreement is part of the contract that the creator of the work negotiates with the business that seeks to exploit the creation. A royalty can be as simple as a fixed amount of money for each copy of a book or compact disc sold by the business. For example, a novelist agrees to let a publisher publish her new book. For granting the publisher the rights to the book, the novelist will receive $3 for each copy sold. If the novelist is a best-selling author, the publisher may agree to a higher royalty rate. Book and music publishers sometimes give an advance against royalties to an author or musician when the contract is signed. For example, the novelist might receive $5,000 as an advance against her royalties. In this case the publisher will keep the first $5,000 of the royalties to cover the cash advance. Typically, if the book failed to produce enough royalties to cover the advance, the publisher would write off the difference as a loss. However, a publisher might sue an author to recover an advance if the author never produces a publishable manuscript.

A playwright's royalty may be based on a percentage of the box office receipts from each performance of the play. An inventor's royalty might be an amount per unit sold or a percentage of the profits generated by the invention. In some cases it might be both. Because a royalty is one of the terms negotiated in a contract, the type and amount will depend on the bargaining power of the parties.

Under the law royalties are personal property. When a person dies, the heirs receive the royalties. For example, when Elvis Presley died, his estate went to his daughter Lisa Marie, who now collects the royalties from the music company that sells her father's recordings.

Royalty agreements are also used in the mineral and gas industries. These agreements have much in common with the origin of the term. For many centuries in Great Britain, the Crown owned all the gold and silver mines. A private business could mine these "royal" metals only if it made a payment, a royalty, to the Crown.

When, for example, a petroleum company wants to drill for oil on a person's land, the company negotiates a royalty agreement with the owner of the mineral rights. If the company strikes oil, the owner of the mineral rights will receive a royalty based on a percentage of the barrels pumped out of the wells. The owner may receive the royalty in kind (the actual oil) or in value (the dollar amount agreed to in the contract), based on the total production from the property.

The schedule for royalty payments is specified in the contract. Quarterly or annual payments are typical. The royalty owner has the right to make an independent accounting of the business records to ensure that the figures upon which the royalty is based are accurate.


Copyright; Entertainment Law; Literary Property; Mine and Mineral Law; Music Publishing; Patents; Publishing Law.

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roy·al·ty / ˈroiəltē/ • n. (pl. -ties) 1. people of royal blood or status: diplomats, heads of state, and royalty shared tables at the banquet. ∎  a member of a royal family: she swept by as if she were royalty. ∎  the status or power of a king or queen: the brilliance of her clothes, her jewels, all revealed her royalty. 2. a sum of money paid to a patentee for the use of a patent or to an author or composer for each copy of a book sold or for each public performance of a work. 3. a royal right (now esp. over minerals) granted by a sovereign to an individual or corporation. ∎  a payment made by a producer of minerals, oil, or natural gas to the owner of the site or of the mineral rights over it. ORIGIN: late Middle English: from Old French roialte, from roial (see royal). The sense ‘royal right (esp. over minerals)’ (late 15th cent.) developed into the sense ‘payment made by a mineral producer to the site owner’ (mid 19th cent.), which was then transferred to payments for the use of patents and published materials.

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royaltyfooty, putti, sooty, tutti •shufti • casualty • deputy •butty, cutty, gutty, nutty, puttee, putty, rutty, smutty •mufti, tufty •bhakti • subtlety • humpty-dumpty •Bunty, runty •bustee, busty, crusty, dusty, fusty, gusty, lusty, musty, rusty, trusty •fealty • realty •propriety, society •loyalty, royalty •cruelty •Krishnamurti, Trimurti •liberty • puberty •faggoty, maggoty •Hecate • chocolatey • Cromarty •commonalty • personalty • property •carroty • guaranty • mayoralty •warranty • admiralty • severalty •poverty •Alberti, Bertie, dirty, flirty, shirty, thirty •uncertainty •Kirstie, thirsty •bloodthirsty

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royal persons collectively, 1480.