Constitutional Documents of the Reign of James I A.D. 1603-1625

Constitutional Documents of the Reign of James I A.D. 1603-1625

Constitutional Documents of the Reign of James I A.D. 1603-1625

Constitutional Documents of the Reign of James I A.D. 1603-1625

Excerpt

This collection of constitutional documents for the reign of James I has been prepared as a companion volume to the editor's Tudor Constitutional Documents, the first edition of which was published in 1922. The arrangement of the earlier work has been closely followed, and as far as possible the same principles have determined the selection of matter for inclusion. The historical commentary which deals with the more important constitutional problems of the reign has been taken mainly, although not exclusively, from the first three lectures of the writer's English Constitutional Conflicts of the Seventeenth Century 1603-1689, published in 1928, but sections have been added on the Secretary of State, the Privy Council, the Star Chamber, and the High Commission Court; and Finance has been treated rather more fully than in the work on the Tudors. As before, the texts selected have been chosen mainly for their accessibility to students in the University and College Libraries of Cambridge.

In collections of this kind there is a danger that too much may be omitted. Considerations of space sometimes lead an editor to present only the bare bones of documents, and to omit as mere verbiage all that clothes the skeleton and makes it live. But the phrases of old documents express the mentality of the age to which they belong, and even verbiage has its share in creating for the student the atmosphere of the period in which his work lies. In the present volume, therefore, the editor has endeavoured to limit his omissions to the following categories, although he has reluctantly to admit that this is of the nature of a counsel of perfection, and it has not been possible to apply the principles uniformly and in every case. (1) Whole passages have been omitted which refer only to matters of secondary constitutional importance. (2) In the discussion of legal questions, as for instance in the debate on impositions in 1610, where arguments are supported by an array of precedents and illustrations, it has been thought sufficient to make a selection from these instead of including them all. (3) In Acts of Parliament, where sentences which are common . . .

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