Subjects and Sovereigns: The Grand Controversy over Legal Sovereignty in Stuart England

Synopsis

Concerned in a general way with theories of legitimacy, this book describes a transformation in English political thought between the opening of the civil war in 1642 and the Bill of Rights in 1689. When it was complete, the political nation as a whole had accepted the modern idea of parliamentary or legal sovereignty. The authors argue that a conservative theory of order, which assigned the king a lofty and unrivalled position, gave way in these years to a more radical community-centered view of government by which the king shared law-making on equal terms with the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Although the community-centered ideology may appear unexceptional to the modern observer, it constituted a revolutionary departure from the prevailing order theory of kingship and political society that had characterized political thought in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.