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From Reformation to ImprovementPublic Welfare in Early Modern England$
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Paul Slack

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206613

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206613.001.0001

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Absolute Power

Absolute Power

(p.53) 3 Absolute Power
From Reformation to Improvement

Paul Slack

Oxford University Press

By 1609, absolute power was more extended, and put to a variety of uses for the public welfare. The Council could write to sheriffs and justices pointing out the extent of their power, not only in enforcing ordinary laws but in executing directions derived from the prerogative power of his Majesty while importing the common weal of the kingdom. This chapter examines how far England travelled down the road of purposeful, centrally directed social engineering, a road on which the monarchy seemed to be embarking from the 1580s, and one which was followed by other countries then and later, whether one calls their goal an absolute, a police, or a cameralist state. In order to shed some light on this question, it looks at the development of the social policies promoted by absolute power, at their local implementation, and at the consequences which followed from the limitations of both.

Keywords:   Privy Council, absolute power, public welfare, Book of Orders, monarchy

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