Rocco Giurato

The freedom of speech in the Elizabethan Parliaments in a remembrance by James Morice (1593)

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Royal Prerogative; Freedom of Speech; Laicization; Elizabethan Parliaments; Arcana Imperii.

The constitutional issue of freedom of speech in Elizabethan Parliaments caused some significant episodes of conflict between this privilege and the royal prerogative. After considering the nature and importance (both theoretical and practical) of the freedom of speech, and excluding the existence of an organized "opposition" in the Elizabethan Parliaments, this paper examines the speech of James Morice to the Commons in 1593 against the ex officio procedure in the court of High Commission. It remarks the elements of novelty that distinguish his speech from previous (or even contemporary) attempts of "opposition" to the government, and aims at explaining both the background and the consequences of the speech. In conclusion, in the light of this analysis, the essay mentions the theoretical and practical question of the mixed government and "absolute" monarchy in Elizabethan England.

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