An Early Modern Crisis of Civil Liberties: King, Parliament, and the Law in England, 1625-1629

Dr. Robert Zaller
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The political crisis that overtook England in the latter 1620s bears striking resemblance to the response of the US administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. In both cases, war against an ideologically demonized enemy was used as a pretext for arbitrary arrests and confiscations on national security grounds ("reason of state" in the English formulation). In both cases, the first line of response (the royal courts; the US Congress) failed to challenge the abrogation of civil liberties and property rights; in both, it was left to an ultimate judicial arbiter (Parliament; the US Supreme Court) to define the permissible limits of executive authority. In England, the failure to achieve settlement helped spark civil war and revolution; in the US, matters are still at issue in the courts, and the constitutional outcome is uncertain.

Keywords: Civil Liberties
Stream: History, Historiography, Political Science, Politics
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Early Modern Crisis of Civil Liberties, An

Dr. Robert Zaller

Professor of History, Department of History and Politics, Drexel University

Robert Zaller has written, coauthored, edited, coedited and translated fourteen books of history, criticism, fiction, and verse. His work has appeared in numerous learned journals in the US and abroad. His primary fields of interest are: early modern England; early modern Europe; modern literature and film. His awards include a Guggenheim fellowship (US). He has served on the advisory board of the Yale Center for Parliamentary History.

Ref: H05P0473