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Sir John Fortescue: On the Laws and Governance of England (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought) Paperback – February 28, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0521589963 ISBN-10: 0521589967

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (February 28, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521589967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521589963
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,484,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Sir John Fortescue was undoubtedly the foremost English political scientist of the fifteenth century. This convenient volume brings together for the first time new editions of his two major works - In Praise of the Laws of England and The Governance of England - with references and suggestions for further reading for the student.These works, arguably the earliest in English political thought, form a coherent argument for justice against tyranny and afford unique insights into the law and governance of fifteenth century England.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mithridates VI of Pontus VINE VOICE on September 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sir John Fortescue lived in England from 1395-1477. He is considered the most important political theorist of the fifteenth century. The England of his time was mired in the bitter convulsions of the War of the Roses between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists branches. After the military kingship of Henry V (1413-1422), his son Henry VI, age 9 months began his reign and ushered a period widely perceived as a serious crisis of governance. This was characterized by massive abuses of the king's patronage, after 1453 Henry had bouts of mental illness, massive overspending in the king's household, massive judicial discrepancies, and the loss of Normandy which Henry V had previously recaptured (as recounted in Shakespeare).

Fortescue was a member of the growing group of lay professionals. He served in parliament and eventually became the Chief Justice of the Court of the King's Bench at Westminster. He fled with Henry VI, after the defeat at the battle of Towton, and while in Scotland he wrote in support of the Lancastrians. In July 1463, he traveled to France where he wrote In the Praise of the Laws England and when he received his pardon from the Yorkist king Edward IV, he returned to England and presented Edward with The Governance (we are unsure when it was written).

It is this background above, which sets the field for his works. The Governance, and In Praise of the Laws of England form an forceful argument for justice against tyranny, for public against private interest. Fortescue argues that a strong king was needed one who is learned in the field of justice. He states that the government of the realm is 'political' because it 'is ruled by the administration of many, and royal' because the subject cannot make laws without 'the authority of the king' (pg xxiii).
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Sir John Fortescue: On the Laws and Governance of England (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
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