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Anthony Musson

This chapter provides an overview of the dynamics of the administration of justice in late medieval England and an insight into the judiciary at work. It offers a refocusing of the divergent historiographical trends, arguing against an artificial separation between 'central' and 'local' justice. The chapter interrogates the conventional notion of a dichotomy between the 'professional' element drawn from the central courts and the 'amateur' contingent recruited from the shires. The justices of the central courts played an equally important role in provincial justice through their presence on commissions of assize and gaol delivery and on ad hoc commissions of general and special oyer and terminer. The most useful and practical book for men of law involved in the administration of criminal justice was the anonymous Placita Corone, which gives instruction on how cases should be conducted at gaol delivery.

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Respublica mosaica

Imposters, legislators and civil religion

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Justin Champion

This chapter focuses on the activities of John Toland under Sophia of Hanover, his intimacy with whom Toland used as a theatre for the display of his arguments. He advanced a clear and profound defence of commonwealth principles, especially by supporting the interest of the Protestant succession against popery. The convergence of Toland's public and private discourse resulted in the publication of his Letters to Serena, which established the connections between such metaphysical speculation and more mainstream political thought. The chapter also considers Toland's characterisation of Moses as a republican legislator and an exemplary model for the conduct of contemporary politics. It suggests that Toland's work on Moses laid the foundation for practical suggestions in reforming the confessionalism of political culture, and that the veneration of the Mosaic institution was to be a prescriptive model for political and religious reform.

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Marie Lennersand and Linda Oja

This chapter is part of a research project directed by the authors, focusing on the major Swedish witch-hunt that took place in the county of Dalarna 1668-1671. In late seventeenth-century Sweden there were several mechanisms for the reintegration of convicted criminals into both the religious and secular community, with the church playing a key role. In the historiography of witchcraft it has been recognised that the background and the relationships between the involved parties in a witch-hunt were determining factors for how things would turn out. A notable example is the Countess Charlotta Taube who was made the very symbol of the Enlightenment struggle against superstitious witch-hunts. The heavily emphasised connection between superstition and the common people in the writings of the eighteenth-century Swedish elite did not reflect reality. Nevertheless, the folklorist-romantics of the late eighteenth century reinforced the stereotypical image of superstition as a 'popular' phenomenon.

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Brian Pullan and Michele Abendstern

If the price of liberty had always been constant vigilance, it seemed that the price of survival in the late 1980s was constant surveillance and the price of efficiency constant competition and the publication of results. In return for their employment, academics must now submit to scrutiny, designed in part to establish whether or not they were giving value for money, and in part to identify strengths and weaknesses. Concern with the Research Selectivity Exercises threatened, as time passed, to become obsessive. ‘Publish or your department perishes’ became a nagging admonition, impossible to ignore. However, the improvement of research performance was a legitimate goal. The reorganisation of biological sciences demonstrated the University's ability to reform itself; it provided a model and a precedent for the refashioning of groups of departments into schools in other parts of the University.

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Republican learning

John Toland and the crisis of Christian culture, 1696–1722

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Justin Champion

This book explores the life, thought and political commitments of the free-thinker John Toland (1670–1722). Studying both his private archive and published works, it illustrates how he moved in both subversive and elite political circles in England and abroad. The book explores the connections between Toland's republican political thought and his irreligious belief about Christian doctrine, the ecclesiastical establishment and divine revelation, arguing that far from being a marginal and insignificant figure, he counted queens, princes and government ministers as his friends and political associates. In particular, Toland's intimate relationship with the Electress Sophia of Hanover saw him act as a court philosopher, but also as a powerful publicist for the Hanoverian succession. The book argues that he shaped the republican tradition after the Glorious Revolution into a practical and politically viable programme, focused not on destroying the monarchy but on reforming public religion and the Church of England. It also examines how Toland used his social intimacy with a wide circle of men and women (ranging from Prince Eugene of Savoy to Robert Harley) to distribute his ideas in private. The book explores the connections between his erudition and print culture, arguing that his intellectual project was aimed at compromising the authority of Christian ‘knowledge’ as much as the political power of the Church. Overall, it illustrates how Toland's ideas and influence impacted upon English political life between the 1690s and the 1720s.

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The regent and the parlements

The bid for cooperation

John J. Hurt

This chapter presents an argument that, in the first two years of his regency, the duc d'Orléans made a conscious effort to win the friendship of the parlements and to make them his allies in his struggle with his rival, the duc du Maine. In an effort to win their affection, he cajoled, courted and occasionally capitulated to the very judges whom Louis XIV had tethered, a bid for cooperation that lay beneath the blandishments, inconsistencies and reversals which he showed in his treatment of the tribunals. But the grievances of the parlements, above all the disappointing inability of the Noailles administration to satisfy their financial claims, made it hard for such an alliance to take root. The duc de Saint-Simon condemned it as irresolute fawning, born of an exaggerated sense of the Parlement's importance. As of January 1718, Orléans had pulled back from his politics of accommodation.

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Reformed folklore?

Cautionary tales and oral tradition in early modern England

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Alexandra Walsham

Cautionary tales of the judgements God visited upon flagrant and incorrigible sinners circulated widely in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England: stories of sabbath-breakers, swearers, drunkards, adulterers and other ungodly livers struck down suddenly by the avenging arm of the Almighty. Recycling older materials and incorporating new ingredients created a distinctive body of tales and stories which might legitimately be described as a corpus of Protestant legend and folklore. Recent folklorists have rejected the misguided persuasion of their predecessors that folklore was a pure distillation of the untainted spring waters of continuous oral tradition. Oral tradition filtered into the printed collections of God's judgements in a variety of ways. The notion that God actively intervened in human affairs to reward the good and discipline the wicked was by no means an innovation of the post-Reformation period, but such beliefs were bolstered by Calvinist theology.

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Edward M. Spiers

British governments retained only a small army of occupation in Egypt and withdrew forces from the southern frontier, the defense of which was left increasingly to the Egyptian Army, after the failure of the Gordon relief expedition. The latter was reformed and trained by a cadre of British officers and noncommissioned officers (NCO) and was periodically supported by British units, notably a squadron of the 20th Hussars at the battle of Toski and in engagements with Osman Digna's forces near Suakin. As most of the Gordon relief expedition began to depart, Private Francis Ferguson reconciled himself to a long tour of duty in Egypt. After returning to Wadi Halfa, where Ferguson remained until May 1886, he feared the risks of illness above anything else whenever the prospect of frontier service recurred. Ferguson liked the barracks at Abbassiyeh, some 3 miles from Cairo, describing the rooms as large or lofty, each capable of holding over fifty bed cots, also describing them as cool considering the climate.

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Reasonable doubt

Defences advanced in early modern sodomy trials in Geneva

William G. Naphy

This chapter takes as its chronological parameters of the period 1555-1665 because 1555 was the date at which Calvin and the ecclesiastical authorities were able to take control of the administration of morals while 1665 saw the last prosecutions for sodomy for a century. It proposes to treat sexual crimes in groupings, which reflect the behaviour of the prosecutors and defendants: adult, same-sex acts; bestiality; lesbianism; child abuse; 'deviant' heterosexuality; pre-adolescent sexual activity; and incest. If one were to give an early modern Genevan 'catch-all' description to the cases under discussion it would be 'crimes against nature', a phrase which at times equates solely with sodomy. The court's understanding of the crimes they were facing is fascinating. Germain Colladon was clear that lesbianism was sodomitical and against nature. However, the group sex, while revolting, was 'normal' fornication.

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Reading Scripture

The reception of Christianity not mysterious, 1696–1702

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Justin Champion

This chapter examines how John Toland's books, particularly his Christianity not mysterious, worked in the public sphere, explaining that this book was criticised as the most arrogant and impudent treatment of God and the Holy Scriptures. It suggests that Christianity not mysterious was published in a context riven by orthodox disquiet about the connection between private immorality and public depravity, and that its presentation as a common nuisance was intended to act as a precedent for others to do the like.