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State and CommonwealthThe Theory of the State in Early Modern England, 1549-1640$
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Noah Dauber

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691170305

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691170305.001.0001

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A Society of Orders

A Society of Orders

(p.81) Chapter 2 A Society of Orders
State and Commonwealth

Noah Dauber

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Sir Thomas Smith's account of political development in the form of a description of the Elizabethan state in his De Republica Anglorum. More specifically, it considers Smith's suggestion that England was a society of orders of the sort that Carlo Sigonio had described with reference to Rome. It shows how Smith situated the “republic of the English” in a scheme of political development, drawing on Sigonio and the humanist lawyer Ulrich Zasius for background. It also discusses Smith's comparison of the English constitution to a moment of balance during the Roman republic after the curial institutions of the tyrants had faded away, but before the popular party gained the upper hand. Finally, it highlights the difference between Smith's understanding of the commonwealth (respublica) and the Marian exiles' understanding of the state.

Keywords:   state, Sir Thomas Smith, political development, De Republica Anglorum, England, society of orders, English constitution, tyrants, commonwealth, Marian exiles

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