Monday, December 26, 2016

Kidwell's "Law, Political Thought and the Ancient Constitution

Erin Rahne Kidwell has recently published. Law, Political Thought, and the Ancient Constitution: A Case Study of George Saltern's Of the Antient Lawes of Great Britaine with Talbot Publishing, an imprint of The Lawbook Exchange.
The blending of myth and legal history evident in the body of literary and legal texts produced to debate the union proposals of James VI and I following the king's proclamation of them in 1604 illustrates the seamless nature of the legal and literary canons at a formative moment in the history of British-American constitutionalism. This case study focuses on one of the lesser known Union Tracts, George Saltern's 1605 Of the Antient Lawes of Great Britaine in conjunction with examples from various union tracts and contemporaneous works in British history, Calvin's Case and other judicial opinions, and works of British-American political thought to illustrate and evaluate the creative mix of mythical and historical elements present in the juridical historiography of the ancient constitution. King James's proposed 'restitution' of a realm which had in fact never previously existed in history--the unified realm of Great Britain--could only have been defended through such a blend of literary myth, history, and legal precedents. Furthermore, tracing the juridical historiography of ancient constitutionalism over the following centuries reveals the surprising extent to which ancient constitutionalist thought has continued to influence the development of British-American constitutionalism to the present day. The appendix includes a facsimile of George Saltern's Of the Antient Lawes of Great Britaine (1605).
An endorsement:
"Being immemorial, the Ancient Constitution could have no founding fathers, but needed fathers as ancient as could be found. Erin Kidwell traces them back beyond English into British history and beyond King Alfred to King Lear, King Arthur and Brutus of Troy. This is a valuable study in the mythology necessary to medieval and early modern constitutionalism and the political thought arising from it." -- J.G.A. Pocock, P.E., Johns Hopkins University, author of The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law.
Kidwell was for many years Curator of Legal History Collections at Georgetown Law Library.  A notice of the book appears on the library's blog.  The post notes that Georgetown Law’s Digital Initiatives Division has made its copy of George Saltern’s Of the Antient Lawes of great Britaine available here.