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A study of Constitution and Legitimacy: Influences of Protestant thinking on perceptions of the legitimacy of constitutional reform as enacted by the 1688 English Bill of Rights

Crawford, Stephen (2021) A study of Constitution and Legitimacy: Influences of Protestant thinking on perceptions of the legitimacy of constitutional reform as enacted by the 1688 English Bill of Rights. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.89812) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:89812)

Language: English

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This thesis is a work of constitutional theory focusing on the Bill of Rights [1688]. It posits this document as a simultaneous manifestation of two constitutional projects. First, as a settlement to the constitutional crises and Revolutions of the English seventeenth-century. Second, as a constitutional reform that established the basis of Parliament's authority over the monarchy. It is suggested that this reform enacted the legal transition from a monarchic towards a parliamentarian model of constitutionalism. This is undertaken through arguing that the perception of the legitimacy of the Bill of Rights was influenced by thinking stemming from the Protestant Reformation. The central thesis is that the Protestant Reformation of church structure and 'spiritual' authority opened conceptual space for reimagining the relationship between the people and their governors. It is argued that challenges presented to the hierarchical authority of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church were transferable to the unidirectional experience of constitutional authority inherent in monarchic constitutionalism.

This thesis presents an interdisciplinary examination of the influence of thinking concerning authority stemming from the Protestant Reformation upon constitutional theory. In so doing, this extends study of the interconnection between church and state constitution and organisational thinking from the Medieval into the Early Modern period. This project also challenges the entrenched ideologically opposed Whig and Revisionist historiographies of England's seventeenth-century constitution. As part of this process it critiques the dominant positivist logic of the legitimacy of public law, and the dogma of British constitutional exceptionalism. The aim of this thesis is to introduce a new interdisciplinary perspective on British constitutional development into the existing literature of non-positive constitutional theory. This facilitates a contribution to this field of study that challenges dominant narratives of Early Modern secular Republicanism as the driver of constitutional development. It also contributes a historical account in the emergent style of what in this project is termed the third wave historiography of seventeenth-century English constitutional history.

The main points of discussion in demonstrating the central argument of this thesis are as follows: First, The Bill of Rights can be understood as simultaneously both a constitutional settlement and a constitutional reform. Second, Perception of the legitimacy of the Bill was influenced by Protestant Reformation of church structure and 'spiritual' authority. This argument addressing perception of the legitimacy of the Bill is revealed through analysis of preceding failed constitutional manifestos for reform, and subsequent constitutional reforms. The documents analysed are: the Petition of Right (1628), and the Levellers' An Agreement of the People (1647); and the Triennial Act (1694) and the Act of Settlement (1700). In order for this new perspective to be revealed a non-positivist interdisciplinary framework of theory, concepts and methods is required; one utilising a political jurisprudential approach to constitutional scholarship.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Curran, Eleanor
Thesis advisor: Parsley, Connal
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.89812
Uncontrolled keywords: Bill of Rights [1688], Constitution, Legitimacy, Protestant Reformation
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2021 16:10 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2021 09:54 UTC
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