1st Edition

The Rise and Fall of Treason in English History

By Allen Boyer, Mark Nicholls Copyright 2024

    This book explores the development and application of the law of treason in England across more than a thousand years, placing this legal history within a broader historical context.

    Describing many high-profile prosecutions and trials, the book focuses on the statutes, ordinances and customs that have at various times governed, limited and shaped this worst of crimes. It explores the reasons why treason coalesced around specific offences agreed by both the monarch and the wider political nation, why it became an essential instrument of enforcement in high politics, and why, over the past three hundred years, it has gradually fallen into disuse while remaining on the statute book. This book also considers why treason as both a word and a concept remains so potent in wider modern culture, investigating prevalent current misconceptions about what is and what is not treason. It concludes by suggesting that the abolition or 'death' of treason in the near future, while a logical next step, is by no means a foregone conclusion.

    The Rise and Fall of Treason in English History is a thorough academic introduction for scholars and history students, as well as general readers with an interest in British political and legal history.

    Introduction  1. Origins to 1066  2. Treason at the King’s Discretion, 1066-1352  3. The Great Statute of Treason and its Aftermath: 1352-1500  4. An Ultimate Weapon of State: Treason in Tudor England  5. The World Turned Upside Down: A Crisis of Treason, 1600-1700  6. Treason in the Eighteenth Century  7. The Death of Treason


    Allen Boyer is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia School of Law, and he earned his doctorate at the University of St Andrews. As a lawyer, he served as senior appellate counsel at the New York Stock Exchange Division of Enforcement. In a parallel career, he has published numerous articles on legal history, and five books, notably Sir Edward Coke and the Elizabethan Age and Rocky Boyer’s War.

    Mark Nicholls is a Fellow, and former President, Librarian and a Tutor of St John’s College Cambridge. He has published extensively on British conspiracies and succession politics. His books include Investigating Gunpowder Plot (1991), A History of the Modern British Isles 1529-1603 (1999) and, with Penry Williams, Sir Walter Raleigh in Life and Legend (2011).