By David Cressy
Risky speak examines the "lewd, ungracious, detestable, opprobrious, and rebellious-sounding" speech of normal women and men who spoke scornfully of kings and queens. Eavesdropping on misplaced conversations, it finds the expressions that obtained humans into hassle, and follows the destiny of a few of the offenders. Introducing tales and characters formerly unknown to background, David Cressy explores the contested zones the place deepest phrases had public final result. notwithstanding "words have been yet wind," because the proverb had it, malicious tongues brought on social harm, seditious phrases challenged political authority, and treasonous speech imperiled the crown. Royal regimes from the home of Plantagenet to the home of Hanover coped variously with "crimes of the tongue" and located how one can display screen speak they deemed risky. Their reaction concerned policing and surveillance, judicial intervention, political propaganda, and the crafting of recent legislation. In early Tudor instances to talk sick of the monarch may perhaps danger execution. by way of the top of the Stuart period comparable phrases might be brushed off with a shrug. This ebook strains the advance of unfastened speech throughout 5 centuries of well known political tradition, and exhibits how scandalous, seditious and treasonable speak eventually won safeguard as "the birthright of an Englishman." The energetic and available paintings of a prize-winning social historian, it bargains clean perception into pre-modern society, the politics of language, and the social effect of the legislation.
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Extra resources for Dangerous Talk: Scandalous, Seditious, and Treasonable Speech in Pre-Modern England
But to use the word in a way that ‘touches upon the repute of blood and liberty, of all the land and of all the goods of the plaintiff ’ might well be incriminating at law, so said King’s Bench judges in 1595. Offensive words were ‘of greater effect’ if spoken of an office-holder than of someone who was not in office, argued the great Elizabethan lawyer Edward Coke. 48 Words against Authority Words between neighbours could be slanderous or defamatory, but they were not as dangerous to society as insults against magistrates.
He told one parish widow that she was ‘a quean and the filthiest and wickedest woman that ever lived’, berated another churchgoer as ‘rogue, rascal and knave’, and abused Francis Piggott, esquire, the most prominent landowner in town, saying ‘sirra, sirra, sirra . . thou lyest’. ‘Sirra’ was a demeaning word to apply to a gentleman, but it was among the mildest of Hodgeson’s verbal transgressions. Parishioners complained to the Quarter Sessions about their minister’s ‘beastly words’ when, before thirty witnesses, he charged Edmund Chapman with encouraging Thomas Parlett to ‘lay his maid down in a haycock and fuck her, fuck her, fuck her, fuck her, by God .
Two Cambridge academics, fellows of Pembroke Hall, fell into a shouting match in 1611, when one of them spoke unwisely, ‘in a great heat and rage’. Meeting together in the college garden, Dr Theophilus Field began to berate his junior colleague Alexander Read, claiming that Read had spoken ill of him behind his back. Field called Read a ‘stiff clown’, to which Read replied ‘that for stiffness he had honesty in him, and further said that a man had need to have a stomach in that college to carry matters out’.