Epilogue: The Crisis of the Common Law



How might we summarize the changing patterns of political discourse in early Stuart England? Like most complex societies, England in the early-seventeenth century was characterized by complicated and subtle structures of discourse. It is only at our peril that we attempt to read particular uses of the political languages of the period without first uncovering the structures that helped to give them meaning. Part II of this book has attempted to sketch a model of these structures. Like all models it simplifies and abstracts from reality. It also tends, by the very nature of being reduced to writing, to convert unspoken, internalized conventions into written rules, and to make the whole look too schematic. But the real test of a model must be whether it goes with, or cuts against, the grain of the reality it attempts to model. If it does the former then it will prove enlightening, whatever its simplicities.


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© Glenn Burgess 1992

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