Apr 7, 2015
It's a common saying that early modern England was a personal monarchy, but this era was also a conciliar age, with a polity saturated in counsel. The persistence and prevalence of counsel rested on entrenched assumptions about the nature of good rule, and of theories of the soul and man which divided reason from will. Counsel was the reason that made imperfect human will serve the common good. It made kingship function as monarchy, not tyranny. In this paper, Jacqueline Rose dissects the dual problem of political counsel: how to approach the phenomenon historically, and how it was a problem at the time. In doing so, she demonstrates that counsel is far more interesting and complex than it has previously been seen, and that, as a discourse, it was fraught with ambiguity and tension.