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The Oxford History of the Laws of England: Volume XI1820–1914 English Legal System$
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William Cornish, J Stuart Anderson, Ray Cocks, Michael Lobban, Patrick Polden, and Keith Smith

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199258819

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258819.001.0001

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The Army

The Army

Chapter:
(p.401) IV The Army
Source:
The Oxford History of the Laws of England: Volume XI
Author(s):

Stuart Anderson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258819.003.0013

This chapter considers the governance of the army in the 19th century. In law the army was the king's, or queen's. Politically it had for long been controlled by ministers whose responsibilities had come to be owed to Parliament, and Parliament had come to control its finance, but the extent of those controls, the remaining role of the monarch, and the autonomy of the army high command, together formed a persistent if minor theme in Victorian and Edwardian constitutionalism. The army's prerogative status was used rhetorically from time to time by army high command as a justification for autonomy from politicians, and right to the end of the 19th century it was possible for army officers, in times of stress, to seek solace that the unpalatable orders they anticipated receiving had the king's personal approval and were not merely the implementation of government policy. Like the Church, the army had its own internal system of law. The common law judges accorded it a high degree of autonomy, in part as a reflection and reiteration of its prerogative status, but predominantly because they thought external adjudication would prejudice good discipline. Though this attitude was tested in the common law courts from time to time, it remained essentially unchanged throughout our period.

Keywords:   English law, army, civilian control, judicial process, legal history

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