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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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Dangerous Talk in Dangerous Times

Dangerous Talk in Dangerous Times

(p.259) 12 Dangerous Talk in Dangerous Times
Dangerous Talk

David Cressy

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the cultural politics of anti-authoritarian speech, community responses, excuses, and consequences, across the early modern era. It revisits material from across the period and ventures some general conclusions. It notes the examples of dangerous talk, the responses of auditors, and the excuses of those accused. It reconsiders the peril of law and the patterns of punishment for alleged offenders and questions the threat posed by crimes of the tongue to the security of early modern regimes. The discussion notes that the common tongue was not always respectful or polite. Some utterances were hostile and abusive, demeaning to public authority, hostile to the crown. Others reinforced the established regime. People spoke unguardedly, recklessly or without reflection, and sometimes said things that could be judged scandalous, seditious, or even treasonable.

Keywords:   excuse, anxious authorities, everyday speech, law, dangerous talk, common tongue

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