State trials were the quintessential media events of later Stuart England. The more important of these trials attracted vast public attention, serving as pivot points in the relationship between the governors and the governed. Later Stuart England, the period between the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 and the Hanoverian succession of 1714, has long been known among legal historians for a series of key cases in which juries successfully asserted their independence from judges. In political history, the government’s shaky control over political trials in this period has long been taken as a sign of the waning power of the crown and the rise of constitutional liberties. More recently, as historians have turned to the study of political culture, the state trials, or those trials in which matters of constitutional importance were at stake, have received renewed attention. Historians have turned to the many eighteenth-century compilations of English state trials, several of which are found in the Newberry’s holdings, to answer new questions about the means by which a vibrant, highly partisan and increasingly dynamic public sphere developed in late seventeenth and early eighteenth century England.
This symposium aims to assess these new developments in political, legal, and cultural history and chart a new research agenda for the study of the English state trials.
Download a printable PDF flyer to post and distribute.
Preliminary list of speakers (subject to change)
Keynote address in the Leopold Room, Harris Hall, Northwestern University
4 pm Thursday, April 10
“State Trials and the Rule of Law under Charles II: Some Reflections”
Presentations at the Newberry Library
9 am - 5 pm Friday, April 11
9 to 9:30 am: Coffee and continental breakfast
9:30 to 10:45 am: Session 1
10:45 to 11 am: Break
11 am to 12:15 pm: Session 2
12:15 to 1:45 pm: Lunch break
1:45 to 3 pm: Session 3
3 to 3:15 pm: Break
3:15 to 4:30 pm: Session 4
“The Trial of Thomas Dangerfield”
“Relitigating Revolution: Address, Progress, and Redress in the Long Summer of 1710”
“The Trial of Benjamin Keach”
“Constructing Conspiracy: Print, Manuscript, Speech, and Place in State Trials Associated with the Rye House Plot”
“State Trials and Corruption, with a Particular Focus on the Failed Impeachment of Leeds in 1695 and the Impeachment of Macclesfield in 1725”
“The Trial, Execution, and Responses to the Execution of Oliver Plunkett, with a Discussion of the Trials of the Alleged Popish Plot Conspirators”
John Marshall, Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University
“Politics and Sentiment in the Jacobite State Trials, 1719–37”
“Surviving Innuendoes: Thomas Rosewell (1684) and Daniel Isaac Eaton (1794)”
“Public Reactions to the Seven Bishops Trial”
“State Trials 2.0”
“ ‘Blood will have Blood’: The Regicide Trials and the Popular Press”
A full schedule will be posted soon.
Cosponsored with The Alumnae of Northwestern University, the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University, McGill University, and Northwestern University.
Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry Library. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.
This program is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration in advance is required. Papers will be precirculated electronically to registrants.
Register online here. Registrations will be processed through 10 am Thursday, April 10.