English government has a special claim to be studied. It developed in comparative freedom from outside interference, producing a curious blend of decentralized and popular freedom with strong, efficient, and centralized administration. Of these two ingredients neither ought to be ignored, though the first has always struck observers as the more important. In truth, English history has been as remarkable for good government as for free and constitutional government, though the two have not always coincided. Nevertheless, either by itself will fail to explain the peculiar development of a country the whole structure of whose politics is so different from that of any other. Neither freedom nor order has ever had the field exclusively to itself. The desire for constitutional guarantees has never altogether swept away the sense that government must be strong to be worth having, nor have governments ever for long attempted to turn strength into abuse of strength. The interaction of these two principles is at the root of England's exceptional constitutional history and her exceptional stability, never seen more clearly than in times of revolution. A moment's comparison of the Puritan revolution with the great revolutions of France and Russia will show what is meant. The sanctions of that stability -- the safeguards against despotism -- have long been understood and often described; the other side of the matter -- strong rule preventing anarchy and preserving order -- requires still much exploration. Our history is still much written by whigs, the champions of political freedom; to stress the need for controlling that freedom may even today seem not only not Liberal but even illiberal.
There have been periods when the needs of 'good government' prevailed over the demands of 'free government', and of these the Tudor age was the most important. To speak of despotism and a reign of terror in sixteenth-century England was easier for a generation which had not met these things at first hand; however, it remains true that it was a time when men were ready to be governed, and when order and peace seemed more important than principles and
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Publication information: Book title: The Tudor Revolution in Government:Administrative Changes in the Reign of Henry VIII. Contributors: G. R. Elton - Author. Publisher: Cambridge University Press. Place of publication: Cambridge, England. Publication year: 1962. Page number: 1.
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