chapter  2
25 Pages

Ideology, Property and the Constitution

WithJohann Sommerville

This chapter argues that from the late sixteenth century onwards a number of men claimed that the king could tax without consent in what he regarded as emergencies. It also argues that the King's powers were derived from the people or from the laws of the realm. The chapter examines some of the evidence which has been put forward in favour of the idea that unity prevailed amongst Englishmen on constitutional questions. Divisions on constitutional principle, when added to royal incompetence and to religious differences, explain much about politics between 1625 and 1640. The first emphasizes the conservative nature of English thinking, pointing out that 'innovation' was commonly agreed to be evil, and stressing the extent to which political or constitutional claims were based on appeals to history. The sacrosanctity of property was inscribed in Magna Carta, along with other English liberties.