Law, Politics and Society in Early Modern England

Law, Politics and Society in Early Modern England

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.


"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

Review of the hardback: '… covers an impressively wide range of issues and material … The book gives strong support to further links between social, political and intellectual history, with law as a bridge … As an important contribution to many fields of early modern history, the book is a great success.' Edinburgh Law Review

'Christopher Brooks examines Tudor and early Stuart English law both as a professional practice and a set of principles shaping national and local politics, constitutional theory, economics, landholding, and family life. He achieves striking breadth by combining the classic 'internalist' focus on legal training, institutional evolution, and litigation patterns with 'externalist' concerns about how law shaped society by allocating resources, adjudicating among competing claimants to power, and providing a grammar for conducting political and economic negotiations.' The Journal of Law and History Review