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Law, Politics, and Political Discourse in Sixteenth-Century Manorial Norfolk

MURRELL, CALLUM,DAVID (2021) Law, Politics, and Political Discourse in Sixteenth-Century Manorial Norfolk. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis interrogates the form and structure of the principle texts produced within the English legal system in the late sixteenth century. It examines the instruments of litigation in the sixteenth-century Duchy Chamber and Star Chamber - their bills of information and complaint, answers, demurrers, rejoinders, interrogatories, examinations and depositions - in order to demonstrate that they were structured according to an essentially Roman theory of forensic rhetoric. This forensic framework, it is argued, is evident in legal texts from the North Norfolk Manor of Gimingham. The thesis demonstrates how this classical inheritance is indicative of the influence of Renaissance thought and Humanism upon English law and illustrates one of the key means by which English law and English legal culture developed in the late sixteenth-century. This thesis makes an important critical methodological contribution to the historiography of social history. Methodologically, the thesis has been deeply influenced by the analytical concerns of intellectual history, particularly those of the Cambridge School of intellectual historians, but retained an evidentiary base that is almost exclusively a province social historians. This is unique in the scholarship. It writes a history of legal and political culture from the ground up, in order to excavate a larger context within which we might place individuals within the mass of ordinary people and thereby obtain a greater grasp the scope of early modern politics and civil society. This is demonstrated through the analysis of Gimingham’s legal and political culture, excavated through an examination of its litigation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Law Politics Social History Intellectual History Norfolk
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:05 Mar 2021 11:15

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