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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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Marvell’s Dread of the Sword

Marvell’s Dread of the Sword

Chapter:
(p.139) 4 Marvell’s Dread of the Sword
Source:
Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century England and the Making of the Modern Political Imaginary
Author(s):

Feisal G. Mohamed

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198852131.003.0005

For Marvell sovereignty names the brutal core of political order, where a single ruler, or body of rulers, decides on the state of exception. This recognition is visible in the early, middle, and late stages of his career, from ThePicture of Little T.C. and the Villiers elegy, to the Protectorate poems, to the Advice to a Painter poems and AnAccount of the Growth of Popery. The last of these is illumined by consideration of the case of Shirley v. Fagg (1675); for all that Marvell aligned himself with Shaftesbury, they take different views of the case reflecting their different views of constitutional order. In his mature thought especially, we see Marvell’s impulse to advance the legal rights of the subject and so limit the damage that can be done by the sovereign wielding the power of the sword. This impulse is brought into conversation with Schmitt’s thought on the nature of the pluralist state, which he offers through a critique of Harold Laksi.

Keywords:   Andrew Marvell, raison d’état, Francis, Lord Villiers, Oliver Cromwell, Anthony Ashley Cooper, First Earl of Shaftesbury, Shirley v. Fagg

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