Sir Edward Coke and "The Grievances of the Commonwealth," 1621-1628

Sir Edward Coke and "The Grievances of the Commonwealth," 1621-1628

Sir Edward Coke and "The Grievances of the Commonwealth," 1621-1628

Sir Edward Coke and "The Grievances of the Commonwealth," 1621-1628

Synopsis

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Excerpt

Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634) was a prominent member of the English ruling elite for about four decades, and for two centuries after his death, his writings exerted a profound influence on English and American law. At no point in his career did he dominate English politics; but he still stands out from the other leading figures of the late Elizabethan and early Stuart periods because of his versatility, his singular capacity for survival, and his powerful influence on his contemporaries and on posthumous generations. Coke was active in the law courts for almost forty years, first as a private practitioner, then as a legal officer of the crown, and finally as a royal judge. He served in every parliament held between 1589 and 1628 as either a member of the Commons or an advisor to the Lords. He also worked with the Privy Council for over thirty years, initially as an occasional assistant, and later as a full-fledged member. At the same time, he participated in the factional political struggles of the later Elizabethan and early Stuart periods while accumulating a fortune that became the envy of his contemporaries. Finally, in Elizabeth's last years, he began to publish various legal works that revealed a wide knowledge of earlier English legal sources and an unparalleled ability to integrate the diverse elements of English common law into a coherent whole; and, coupled with his many years of practical legal experience and his politically influential position, they eventually established him as the leading legal authority of his era. in none of these spheres of activity was Coke without rivals, nor was he preeminent in all of them. He wielded far less political power than men like Salisbury or Buckingham, and his parliamentary experience and influence did not exceed that of such men as Sir Edwin Sandys. Bacon and Ellesmere rivaled him in legal expertise, whereas younger antiquarians like Selden and Prynne were better read in earlier legal sources. Nevertheless, none of Coke's rivals and contemporaries-- with the obvious exception of Bacon--succeeded in as wide a range of legal, political, administrative, and literary activities. None was as politically prominent and influential for so long a period of time. and none exercised such a profound influence on the subsequent development of English law.

Coke was born on 1 February 1552 at Mileham in the county of . . .

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