This chapter begins with Coke’s and Selden’s speeches on liberty of person in the wake of the Five Knights’ Case (1627). Here civil law and supra-legal principles, or the national and the universal, converge, in a way running parallel to the period’s engagements of the romance tradition, which historically claims common cultural ground for Western Christendom but becomes dominated in the seventeenth century by narrower concerns. This shift is visible in John Barclay’s Argenis, effecting an unlikely marriage of romance and raison d’état. That proves to be an influential model in the prose romances of the 1650s—considered most closely are Theophania and Sir Percy Herbert’s Cloria and Narcissus. In a way recalling Arendt’s remarks on nomos, likely a response to Schmitt, these romances of the 1650s solidify the social ties of a disempowered elite while displaying a unique and fleeting posture of openness on the question of sovereignty.
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