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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Department of History
Britton, Michael

Michael  Britton  ABD  

Field of Study

Early Modern Europe

Advisor

Christopher R. Kyle

Dissertation Title

Administering the Commonweal: Royal Intervention in Elizabethan and Early Stuart London

Dissertation Description

My dissertation addresses royal intervention in the Corporation of London's governance of the capital during the Elizabethan and early-Stuart periods. It explores the extent to which civic authorities governed without recourse to the Crown, the issues which most occupied the Crown-City relationship, and the communicative and administrative tactics and maneuvers by which civic authorities negotiated and tempered royal dictates in the capital. With rapid population growth, perceptions of the city's ideal order and perceived threats to that order increasingly guided royal intervention. Although a positive source of capital, labor, and innovation, the Crown feared London's growing crowds could also nurture plague, vagrancy, heresy, and riot should the City's aldermen fail to govern effectively. Operating within a discourse of loyalty, the City employed confrontational political tactics to negotiate royal power within the capital. The City staunchly asserted the efficacy of its administration as it selectively publicized royal orders and only tendentiously enforced royal policy. When the Crown pursued policy ends perceived as too taxing or obstructive to civic interests, the City invoked the specter of public disorder. My study of the Crown-City relationship during this period reveals the negotiated nature of royal authority in the capital, the convergence of municipal interests with those of the expanding royal government, and the favored status of London's mercantile elite in royal policy.