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Dangerous TalkScandalous, Seditious, and Treasonable Speech in Pre-Modern England$
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David Cressy

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199564804

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564804.001.0001

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The Last of the Stuarts

The Last of the Stuarts

(p.223) 10 The Last of the Stuarts
Dangerous Talk

David Cressy

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows the difficulty of policing popular sentiments from the reign of James II to the time of Queen Anne. The thirty years from the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion in 1685 to the Jacobite uprising of 1715 gave English men and women no shortage of topics to talk about. An energetic press gave further stimulus to the national conversation, in an age of growing prosperity. Even if convicted of political crimes of the tongue, English men and women were unlikely to suffer gravely. The ancient punishments had fallen into disuse. In most instances a token punishment was enough. The state no longer felt imperiled by dangerous words, so long as those words were not distributed through writing. By the early years of the 18th century the English had freedom to speak as they pleased, provided they steered clear of blasphemy and slander.

Keywords:   Queen Anne, James II, King William, Queen Mary, rebellion, Jacobite uprising, slander

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