Wilfrid Prest

in William Blackstone

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199550296
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720925 | DOI:

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This concluding chapter briefly tracts the vicissitudes of Blackstone's posthumous reputation, before considering some broader implications of the account of his life and work presented above. Far from being an arch-reactionary, Blackstone was in many respects a radical reformer, as well as a leading figure in the British manifestation of the 18th-century Enlightenment. His orthodox Anglicanism did not put him at odds with proponents of rational improvement, although it distinguished him from a more sceptical minority. Not an outstandingly original thinker, Blackstone was a great academic innovator and reformer, as well as a notable scholar. He was also a more accomplished and experienced lawyer than is generally supposed. A meritocrat, and not lacking in personal ambition, he nevertheless devoted most of his abundant energies to larger causes than mere self-aggrandisement.

Keywords: historiography; interpretations; Enlightenment; improvement; reform

Chapter.  3895 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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