Sir Matthew Hale, 1609-1676: Law, Religion and Natural Philosophy

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Sir Matthew Hale (1609-76) was the greatest common lawyer of his age, and the most universally admired. Although he held office under Oliver Cromwell, this barely affected his standing in Restoration times. A study of Hale's life and thought necessarily illuminates the central role of the common law in Stuart politics. This book explains Hale's political ideas, and his subtle understanding of the peculiar character of an 'unwritten' law. It also covers his extensive writings on scientific and religious questions, writings which document a shift from puritan to liberal Protestantism. His acute but equivocal response to the science of Descartes and Boyle reveals a fascinating interplay between his 'latitudinarianism' and the new natural philosophy. The result is a unique case study, and a comprehensive portrait of a seventeenth-century mind.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a very thoughtful and intelligent book. It offers fresh and important insights, not just into the mind of Sir Matthew Hale but into the intellectual world he inhabited." American Historical Review

"Cromartie has provided a solid introduction to an important figure and drawn attention to the very significant conjunctions in Stuart England of law, religion, and natural philosophy..." ISIS

"Cromartie's work...will be of interest to all specialists in seventeenth-century English legal, religious, and intellectual histroy. Cambridge University Press is to be commended as one of the few contemporary scholarly publishers to provide adequate bibliographies." Sixteenth Century Journal

"Although this study will be of most value to those concerned with the relationship between legal culture and constitutional thought, it also assists us in understanding the development of lay latitudinarianism and the motivations for the widespread Restoration interest in natural philosophy." Albion

"Hale's thought illuminates the resilience of English constitutionalism." Marilyn Morris, Religious Studies Review

"...Sir Matthew Hale 1609-1676 provides a remarkably thorough examination of the major aspects of Hale's professional and intellectual life....A book of this lenghth of course, cannot cover everything in the writings of such a prolific author, but it provides an extremely able introduction to the career and ideas of a leading jurist." Paul Christianson, Canadian Journal of History

"...a valuable and interesting book." J. Sears McGee, Church History

"Alan Cromartie deserves praise and thanks for a book which is well researched, crisply written and full of fascinating insights....certainly essential reading for anyone interested in the history of law and lawyers during the period." Christopher Brooks, The American Journal of Legal History

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction: a summary life; Part I. Law: 1. Coke: the appeal to reason; 2. Selden: the appeal to contract; 3. The rights of the Crown; 4. Interregnum; 5. Protectorate; 6. Restoration: 'the nature of laws'; 7. Restoration: constitutional theory; 8. Restoration: legal practice; Part II. Religion: 9. Hales's 'puritanism'; 10. Hale's 'latitudinarianism'; 11. Hale and religious dissent; Part III. Natural Philosophy: 12. Natural motions; 13. The Torricellian experiment; 14. The soul; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography.
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