State, Trust, and Corporation

State, Trust, and Corporation

State, Trust, and Corporation

State, Trust, and Corporation

Synopsis

The essays collected in State, Trust and Corporation contain the reflections of England's greatest legal historian on the legal, historical and philosophical origins of the idea of the state. All written in the first years of the twentieth century, Maitland's essays are classics both of historical writing and of political theory. They contain a series of profound insights into the way the character of the state has been shaped by the non-political associations that exist alongside it, and their themes are of continuing relevance today. This is the first new edition of these essays for sixty years, and the first of any kind to contain full translations, glossary and expository introduction. It has been designed to make Maitland's writings fully accessible to the non-specialist, and to make available to anyone interested in the idea of the state some of the most important modern writings in English on that subject.

Excerpt

Life and work

F. W. Maitland (1850–1906) was a legal historian who began and ended his intellectual career writing about some of the enduring problems of modern political thought – What is freedom? What is equality? What is the state? His first publication, printed privately in 1875, was an extended essay entitled ‘A historical sketch of liberty and equality as ideals of English political philosophy from the time of Hobbes to the time of Coleridge’. This sketch takes as its starting point the basic question, ‘What is it that governments ought to do?’, only to conclude that such questions are ‘not one[s] which can be decided by a bare appeal to first principles, but require much economic and historical discussion’. Among his final publications, written nearly thirty years later, are the series of shorter essays collected in this book, each of which addresses itself less directly but with equal force to the question of what it is that states, and by extension the governments of states, actually are. In between these excursions into political theory, Maitland produced the work on which his fame has come to rest, the historical investigations into the foundations and workings of English law and of English life which have gained him the reputation as perhaps the greatest of all modern historians of England. This work and that reputation have tended to overshadow what preceded it and what followed it. In the case of the early historical sketch this is perhaps fair. But the later essays are different, not least for the fact that they flow out of the historical interests that drove Maitland for most of his life, above all his

F. W. Maitland, Collected papers, ed. H. A. L. Fisher (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1911), vol. 1, p. 161.

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