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Dangerous TalkScandalous, Seditious, and Treasonable Speech in Pre-Modern England$
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David Cressy

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199564804

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564804.001.0001

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Speaking Treason

Speaking Treason

Chapter:
(p.39) 3 Speaking Treason
Source:
Dangerous Talk
Author(s):

David Cressy

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564804.003.0003

This chapter discusses the medieval law of treason and its development up to the mid-16th century, reviewing case histories from the reign of Henry VI to the reign of Philip and Mary, with extended analysis of treasonous words in the reign of Henry VIII. It reviews some legislation and case histories from an earlier period before dealing with the speech offences against Queen Elizabeth and her Stuart successors. In examining the law governing treasonable speech and its application in 15th- and 16th-century England, it notes that the treason laws of early modern rested on medieval foundations. Though periodically modified, strengthened, or adjusted, the framework that protected the Tudors and Stuarts was centred on the legislation of Edward III. Some lawyers discerned an older common-law tradition concerning treason, but the core of both theory and practice was derived from statute.

Keywords:   treason, medieval law, sedition, Henry VI, Henry VII, Philip, Mary, Queen Elizabeth, treasonable words

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