Chapter

Constitution: Changing Meanings of the Term from the Early Seventeenth to the Late Eighteenth Century ⋆

in From Vienna to Chicago and Back

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780226776361
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226776385 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226776385.003.0004
Constitution: Changing Meanings of the Term from the Early Seventeenth to the Late Eighteenth Century ⋆

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This chapter describes the constitution of a state from the early seventeenth to the late eighteenth century. The constitution of a state is the fundamental settlement that determines the manner in which public authority shall be exercised. The importance of the term “government” during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is a significant precursor of what “constitution” was going to mean in the eighteenth century. Applying the word “constitution” to the sphere of government is considered. The most interesting “discovery” tracing early uses of “constitution” in connection with bodies corporate, concerns the use of “constitution” with reference to the Church of England. The notion of the true or false constitution of the Church of Christ played a considerable role in separatist writings and documents. The rise of the Constitution as the paramount law is the great innovation and achievement of American constitutionalism in eighteenth century.

Keywords: constitution; public authority; government; eighteenth century; Church of England; Church of Christ; paramount law; American constitutionalism

Chapter.  10079 words. 

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