Servants and citizens: Robert Beale and other Elizabethans

Patrick Collinson

in This England

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780719084423
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702031 | DOI:
Servants and citizens: Robert Beale and other Elizabethans

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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Elizabethan politics and public life brought into dynamic interaction (or collision) two forces which were almost contradictory but each typical of the tendencies of the age. These were a monarchy with aspirations to be authoritative, even in some sense absolute; and a public ethic of civic humanism which emphasised duty to the body politic, the commonwealth. The circumstances of Elizabethan politics, more especially in the central decades of the reign, the 1570s and 1580s, tended to place in opposition the monarchical and republican elements in the constitution. After reading and reflecting on these Machiavellian maxims, this chapter agrees with the wisdom of the Renaissance historians, that only those who had themselves been deeply immersed in affairs, were fit to write the histories of their own times.

Keywords: Elizabethan state; Elizabethan politics; civic humanism; commonwealth; republicanism; Machiavellian maxims; Renaissance historians

Chapter.  12255 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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