The Spartan Tradition in European Thought

By Elizabeth Rawson | Go to book overview

13
THE REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD IN ENGLAND

ELIZABETHAN England, with one eye on the needs of the country and another on rebellions abroad that provoked some sympathy, torn between the original teachings of the great reformers and traditional constitutionalist formulations, tended to touch with a long pair of tongs theories that anyone, even the Estates, might resist the monarch. Hooker, indeed, would not allow it; but before him some Anglican writers agreed, very noncommittally, that in some countries officers with such duties had been set up (they seem to have thought primarily of the Electors in Germany) --though it was often argued that, even if the king's civil power rested on a contract, his religious authority was direct from God and unchallengeable. The Puritans for their part found it necessary towards the end of the reign to deny that they followed the Scots or other recent Calvinist parties in allowing rebellion.1 But it was only to the most classically-minded writers, it seems, like the Italian-travelled diplomat and courtier Charles Merbury, that such theories were most readily indicated by reference not to Electors but ephors; and he considered that unless the common belief that 'a Prince should be subject unto the States and Peares of his Realmes: as the kings Of LACEDEMON were to the EPHORI' were 'well tempered and conveniently limited' it would be most 'prejudicial unto th'estate of a Monarchie'.2

But Merbury was perhaps unusual in refusing to advocate mixed government. It was very frequently stated that this was what England had--though what happened when the parts conflicted was fortunately not an urgent question and was not explored. The classical prototypes were not always adduced; but we

____________________
1
Banaoft in his alarmist Daungerous Positions . . . ( 1593) refers on p. 29 to Buchanan and his praise of 'the discipline of Laconia where it was strange to have one man pull off another man's sockes, at his going to bed.
2
A Briefe Discourse of Royall Monarchie ( 1581), p. 43.

-186-

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The Spartan Tradition in European Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • FOREWORD TO PAPERBACK EDITION v
  • Preface vii
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS viii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Plates x
  • I INTRODUCTION 1
  • 2 - The Growth of Laconism 12
  • 3 - The Fourth Century in Greece 33
  • 4 - Laconism in the West 56
  • 5 - Plato and Aristotle 61
  • 6 - Laconism in the Hellenistic Age 81
  • 7 - Laconism Exported 94
  • 8 - Under the Empire 107
  • 9 - The Middle Ages 116
  • 10 - Sparta Rediviva 130
  • II - Kings and Ephors 158
  • 12 - In Utopia and Among the Savages 170
  • 13 - The Revolutionary Period in England 186
  • 14 - Spartans on the Stage 202
  • France in the Eighteenth Century(i) 220
  • 16 - France in the Eighteenth Century (ii) 242
  • 7 - The French Revolution and Its Aftermath 268
  • 18 - Italy in the Eighteenth Century 301
  • 19 - Sparta in Germany 306
  • 20 - England: from the Whigs to the Liberals 344
  • APPENDIX NOTE ON THE UNITED STATES 368
  • INDEX OF NAMES 371
  • INDEX OF SUBJECTS 387
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