This book assesses the everyday use of petitions in administrative and judicial settings and contrasts these with more assertive forms of political petitioning addressed to assemblies or rulers.
A petition used to be a humble means of asking a favour, but in the early modern period, petitioning became more assertive and participative. This book shows how this contrasted to ordinary petitioning, often to the consternation of authorities. By evaluating petitioning practices in Scotland, England and Denmark, the book traces the boundaries between ordinary and adversarial petitioning and shows how non-elites could become involved in politics through petitioning. Also observed are the responses of authorities to participative petitions, including the suppression or forgetting of unwelcome petitions and consequent struggles to establish petitioning as a right rather than a privilege. Together the chapters in this book indicate the significance of collective petitioning in articulating early modern public opinion and shaping contemporary ideas about opinion at large.
The chapters in this book were originally published in the journal Parliaments, Estates & Representation.
Table of Contents
Karin Bowie and Thomas Munck
1. From customary to constitutional right: the right to petition in Scotland before the 1707 Act of Union
2. Neither inside nor outside the corridors of power: prosaic petitioning and the royal burghs in early modern Scotland
Alan R. MacDonald
3. Petitioning in early seventeenth-century Scotland, 1625–51
Laura A.M. Stewart
4. Petitioning in the Scottish church courts, 1638–1707
5. The petition in the Court of Session in early modern Scotland
6. Parliament, printed petitions and the political imaginary in seventeenth-century England
7. Petitioning, addressing and the historical imagination: the case of Great Yarmouth, England 1658–1784
8. Petitions and ‘legitimate’ engagement with power in absolutist Denmark 1660–1800
Karin Bowie is Senior Lecturer in Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, UK. She studies the nature and impact of public opinion and participative politics in early modern Scotland and has a forthcoming monograph on Public Opinion in Early Modern Scotland, c.1560-1707.
Thomas Munck is Professor of Early Modern European History at the University of Glasgow, UK, where his research has focused on comparative European social, cultural and political history. He co-chairs an international seminar on Cultural Translation and his book Conflict and Enlightenment: Print and Political Culture in Europe 1635-1795 was published in 2019.