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Court Patronage and Corruption in Early Stuart England by Linda Levy Peck

By Linda Levy Peck

This wide-ranging quantity is going to the guts of the revisionist debate concerning the drawback of presidency that resulted in the English Civil struggle. the writer tackles questions about the patronage that established early smooth society, arguing that the rise in royal bounty within the early 17th century redefined the corrupt practices that characterised early sleek management.

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The Jacobean court openly sold knighthoods, titles and offices. 42 It must be stressed that when the free gift granted by an all-powerful monarch became transformed into a contract to buy and sell, such marketplace negotiations undermined the central meaning of court patronage. 43 In the early seventeenth century, money assumed an increasingly central role, in part as a deliberate policy of the Crown to sell titles and offices. Such sales provided funds for king and courtiers when parliament voted inadequate subsidies and when income from Crown revenues became inadequate.

55 Patronage connections spanned Privy Council and Royal Household. Appointment to the Household meant not just private service to the monarch but a role at the center of court patronage and, often, court politics. 56 Leading court patrons therefore frequently placed clients in the Bedchamber of the monarch and his family to reinforce the positions or policies those patrons had taken. For the clients this meant a key role in the distribution of royal favor. 57 This was not an issue of private concern to a few courtiers; Holles named it a public grievance in the parliamentary session of 1610 in a speech which recapitulated several themes discussed in this chapter.

10 Overall, royal honors poured out in cornucopian abundance beginning in 1603 and continuing up to 1628, after which there was a sharp decline until 1640 and 1641. Then, with the calling of the Short and Long Parliaments, Charles I expanded royal honors. Service as a justice of the peace was both a burden and a sign of status eagerly sought in Tudor and early Stuart England. The numbers of local landowners appointed to the commission of the peace steadily grew from 1558 to the 1620s. Where Kent had 44 men on the commission in 1562, the county had 97 by 1608.

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