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Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century England and the Making of the Modern Political Imaginary$
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Feisal G. Mohamed

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198852131

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198852131.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 March 2021

The Crown as Machine

The Crown as Machine

Hobbes and Lord Saye

(p.16) 1 The Crown as Machine
Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century England and the Making of the Modern Political Imaginary

Feisal G. Mohamed

Oxford University Press

It is a commonplace to describe the modern state as one where sovereign power is depersonalized by mediating bureaucracies. This chapter offers tangible instances of this phenomenon in early modernity: the Court of Wards and Liveries, through which the crown exercised its feudal rights; and the colonial corporation, which limited the sovereign’s otherwise unfettered power abroad. The political philosophy of Hobbes is set in this context, showing its desire to translate feudal obligation into a modern idiom, one influenced by raison d’état, and to cast the sovereign as akin to the corporation. The career of William Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele is also set in this context, but his is a markedly different response, being consistently committed to the principle of divided sovereignty. The chapter closes with consideration of the mechanization of the state as it appears in Schmitt’s writings, and in Leo Strauss’ famous critique of them.

Keywords:   Thomas Hobbes, Lord Saye and Sele, Court of Wards and Liveries, corporation, Carl Schmitt, Concept of the Political, Leo Strauss

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