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.
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Thursday, April 10
Leopold Room, Harris Hall 108, Northwestern University
4 pm: Keynote address
“State Trials and the Rule of Law under Charles II: Some Reflections”
5:15 pm: Reception
Friday, April 11
Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library
9 to 9:30 am: Check-in; coffee and continental breakfast
9:30 to 10:45 am: Session 1
“Constructing Conspiracy: Print, Manuscript, Speech, and Place in State Trials Associated with the Rye House Plot”
“The Trial, Execution, and Responses to the Execution of Oliver Plunkett, with a Discussion of the Trials of the Alleged Popish Plot Conspirators”
“ ‘Blood will have Blood’: The Regicide Trials and the Popular Press”
10:45 to 11 am: Coffee
11 am to 12:15 pm: Session 2
“Corruption and Later Stuart State Trials”
“Politics and Sentiment in the Jacobite State Trials, 1719–37”
“Defeating Innuendoes: Thomas Rosewell (1684) and Daniel Isaac Eaton (1794)”
12:15 to 2 pm: Lunch break
2 to 3 pm: Session 3
“The Trial of Benjamin Keach: Performing Justice and Martyrdom in Restoration Nonconformity”
“Enforcing Uniformity: Public Reactions to the Seven Bishops Trial”
3 to 3:15 pm: Coffee
3:15 to 4:15 pm: Session 4
“Relitigating Revolution: Address, Progress, and Redress in the Long Summer of 1710”
“State Trials 2.0”
4:15 to 4:45 pm: Closing comments
Cosponsored with the Alumnae of Northwestern University, the Chabraja Center for Historical Studies at Northwestern, the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern, and the Department of History at Northwestern.
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.
Registration is now closed.