Freedom of Speech in Early Stuart England

Series: Ideas in Context (No. 72)

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This book discusses a central chapter in the history of free speech in the Western world. The nature and limits of freedom of speech prompted sophisticated debate in a wide range of areas in the early seventeenth century; it was one of the 'liberties of the subject' fought for by individuals and groups across the political landscape. David Colclough argues that freedom of speech was considered to be a significant civic virtue during this period. Discussions of free speech raised serious questions about what it meant to live in a free state, and how far England was from being such a state. Examining a wide range of sources, from rhetorical handbooks to Parliamentary speeches and manuscript miscellanies, Dr Colclough demonstrates how freedom of speech was conceived positively in the period c.1603-28, rather than being defined in opposition to acts of censorship.