Constitutions and the Classics: Sir John Fortescue
Constitutions and the Classics, 2008
32 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2009 Last revised: 15 Apr 2012
Date Written: December 3, 2008
The paper analyzes the approach of Sir John Fortescue to the law and politics of constitutions, and especially constitution-making in fifteenth century England in his works De Laudibus Legum Angliae, and The Governance of England. In these mirrors for princes, Fortescue outlines the optimum means of governance of the people, through involvement of the people in the parliament, juries, and a council advising the king. His view was that all parts of the body politic must contribute to the continuing health of the nation, and that in this the support and involvement of the people was pivotal. The paper argues that Fortescue was prescient in many ways, his approach to constitutions, constitutional law and the politics of governance affecting later scholars and lawyers in a significant fashion, and that there is still much to be gained from his work.
Keywords: Sir John Fortescue, body politic, De Laudibus, Governance, people, constitutions, fifteenth century, Mirrors of Princes, Machiavelli, St Germain, Selden
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