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Monogamy, Polygamy and the True State: James I'S Rhetoric of Empire

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The article looks again at the English debate over Anglo-Scottish union in the period 1603 to 1607. It reconstructs what marriage meant to contemporaries, as sociocultural practice as well as political model. It argues that Englishmen's attention to their local circumstances -- sui generis since the Henrician reformation -- sank the union project. The debate also promoted a distrust of blood-right kingship that was crucial to its abolition a generation later. The body of the paper is designed as a case study of how to situate 'ideas in context'. It is intended to challenge, by example, key assumptions that inform the dominant model for that project, articulated pre- eminently in Quentin Skinner's work. The conclusion addresses the theoretical dimension explicitly, critiquing Skinner's rationalist model with specific reference to his recent work on conceptions of liberty in seventeenth-century England.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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