Small Navigation Menu

Primary Menu

The publication and reception of local and Parliamentary legislation in England, 1422-c.1485

Citation: Rowland, Dean (2017) The publication and reception of local and Parliamentary legislation in England, 1422-c.1485. Other thesis, University of London.

Rowland, D - IHR - 2017.pdf

Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0

This dissertation examines the means by which the content of legislation made by parliament, and by the authorities in towns, was communicated to the wider populace in fifteenth-century England. It is a study of how legal knowledge could be acquired in the pre-modern world, whilst also using that study as a window through which to explore wider questions about political society and communication within that society. The central argument is that it is necessary to consider the media used to publicise laws much more broadly than the traditional focus on the ‘top-down’ process of oral proclamation of new legislation made by the authorities at the political centre and in the localities. Rather, one needs to assess more realistically the limits of proclamations and how often they were performative rather than purely informative acts, that is to say, they were primarily designed to achieve certain instrumental effects. Moreover, much of what was orally declaimed was actually a settled repetition of older material in which national laws were melded with localised applications in a blend in which the join was no longer visible, one in which ‘quasistatutes’ were frequently as significant as what was supposedly the real thing. Whilst royal and civic administrations exercised some control over the texts of legislation that were circulated, a great deal of the meaningful communication that took place was instigated by local officers, royal officials, even book-producing entrepreneurs, who all performed vital mediating functions. The actions of these intermediaries need to be seen in conjunction with oath taking, the use of writing, the established use of the English language and strong wider demand for information about new laws.

Creators: Rowland, Dean and
Subjects: History
Keywords: politics, political communication, law, medieval law, local government, legislation, Parliament, 15th century England
Divisions: Institute of Historical Research
Collections: Thesis
  • July 2017 (completed)


View details