The definition of treason and the offer of the Crown

Fitzgibbons, Jonathan (2016) The definition of treason and the offer of the Crown. In: Revolutionary England, c. 1630-c.1660: essays for Clive Holmes. Routledge, pp. 127-145. ISBN 9781472438379

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For Clive Holmes the key question of the ‘kingship crisis’ of 1657 is not why did Cromwell refuse the Crown, but why was he offered it in the first place? His answer – that those behind the offer believed the royal title was the ‘integument’ of the English constitution – is a powerful one. In their conferences with Cromwell, MPs stressed repeatedly the antiquity of the kingly title; it was ‘known’ to the law. Yet, as Clive has also shown on numerous occasions, the nature of the English constitution was itself contested. Appeals to its timelessness veiled its evolutionary nature. As such, even if those who offered Cromwell the kingship did so to safeguard the English constitution, it is worth asking what they understood that constitution to include, and how this had developed in light of the experience of the events of the 1640s? MPs urged Cromwell to be King, but what precisely did they understand that title and office to mean? These issues can be illuminated by a discussion of treason, and its shifting definition in the mid-seventeenth century.

Keywords:Seventeenth Century, English Civil Wars, English Revolution, Oliver Cromwell, Treason, Kingship, Political Thought
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V142 Modern History 1600-1699
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:26913
Deposited On:06 Apr 2017 07:58

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