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Law, Politics and Society in Early Modern England

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Overview

Law, like religion, provided one of the principal discourses through which early modern English people conceptualised the world in which they lived. Transcending traditional boundaries between social, legal and political history, this innovative and authoritative study examines the development of legal thought and practice from the later Middle Ages through to the outbreak of the English civil war, and explores the ways in which law mediated and constituted social and economic relationships within the household, the community and the state at all levels. By arguing that English common law was essentially the creation of the wider community, it challenges many current assumptions and opens new perspectives about how early modern society should be understood. Its magisterial scope and lucid exposition will make it essential reading for those interested in subjects ranging from high politics and constitutional theory to the history of the family, as well as the history of law.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Brooks' ability to penetrate the fog of the law's technical language and to explain complicated legal instruments, procedures, and fictions in elegant and accessible prose therefore make this an invaluable work of reference as well as a book that deserves, and demands, to be read from cover to cover." -Tim Stretton, H-Albion

"Based on a remarkable range of research, consistently thoughtful, and often fascinating, the book should obtain a wide readership among early modernists." -K. J. Kesselring, Journal of British Studies

"Highly recommended." -Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521323918
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2009
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher W. Brooks is Professor of History at Durham University.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations and conventions

1 English history and the history of English law 1485-1642 1

2 Courts, lawyers and legal thought under the early Tudors 11

3 The initiatives of the crown and the break from Rome 30

4 Political realities and legal discourse in the later sixteenth century 51

5 The politics of jurisdiction I: the liberty of the subject and the ecclesiastical polity 1560 - c. 1610 93

6 The politics of jurisdiction II: multiple kingdoms and questions about royal authority 124

7 The absoluta potestas of a sovereign and the liberty of the subject: law and political controversy in the 1620s 162

8 The degeneration of civil society into a state of war 1629-1642 190

9 Law and 'community' 241

10 The aristocracy, the gentry and the rule of law 278

11 Economic and tenurial relationships 307

12 The household and its members 352

13 The person, the community and the state 385

14 Conclusion 423

Manuscript bibliography 433

Index 443

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