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The Power of GiftsGift Exchange in Early Modern England$
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Felicity Heal

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542956.001.0001

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Bribes and Benefits

Bribes and Benefits

(p.180) 7 Bribes and Benefits
The Power of Gifts

Felicity Heal

Oxford University Press

There were many words that expressed criticism of illicit gift-giving. From the medieval period onwards the bribing of judges and justices was denounced as illegal, but gifts were given, especially those of food. Gifts to men of power were commonplace and the line between those deemed appropriate and corrupt dealings was subjective. Critics of corruption became more vociferous in the last years of the sixteenth century: it is less clear that the practice changed dramatically between the time of Thomas Cromwell and the eve of the Civil War. There was, however, a period under James I when both the manipulation of patronage, and the visible corruption of legal officers, appeared to threaten political stability. The chapter concludes with the specific example of attacks on clerical corruption, or simony.

Keywords:   benefits, corruption, bribes, law, politics, patronage, Thomas Cromwell, Robert Cecil

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