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A Power to Do JusticeJurisdiction, English Literature, and the Rise of Common Law$
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Bradin Cormack

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226116242

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226116259.001.0001

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“Shewe Us Your Mynde Then”: Bureaucracy and Royal Privilege in Skelton's Magnyfycence

“Shewe Us Your Mynde Then”: Bureaucracy and Royal Privilege in Skelton's Magnyfycence

(p.47) CHAPTER ONE “Shewe Us Your Mynde Then”: Bureaucracy and Royal Privilege in Skelton's Magnyfycence
A Power to Do Justice

Bradin Cormack

University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that John Skelton's Magnyfycence was a response to the bureaucratization of royal authority under the early Tudors. Traditionally read as a warning about excessive expenditure in the royal household, the play emerges instead as an act of political theory, a meditation on the nature of royal identity inside a rapidly evolving administrative culture. This culture abstracted authority from any fully coherent origin and relocated it in a more quantitatively oriented process of management and measurement. In the play, dramatic representation and political representation meet as forms of distribution and embodiment for the consolidation of authority. Skelton describes and analyzes the forms of political delegation by charting the royal household's aggressively bureaucratic pursuit of royal privilege on feudal lands. He also examines legal writing, the material embodiment of delegation, as a site of vulnerability in the state's reproduction and extension of its power. Moreover, Skelton externalizes the idea of royal intention by bringing it in proximity to the idea of equity as a non-arcane principle of legal interpretation and the de facto motor for judicial centralization.

Keywords:   John Skelton, Magnyfycence, bureaucratization, royal authority, Tudors, political theory, royal privilege, royal household, legal writing, centralization

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