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date: 14 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In numerous early modern legal and literary representations, it is the governability of the legal-political system itself and its office-holders, rather than the people, that comes under scrutiny. This article will flesh out the forms and discourse of legal reform in early modern English culture and in 2 Henry IV. Unlike 1 Henry IV, in which reform appears largely as a projected personal strategy that is revealed in the crown prince’s famous first soliloquy, reform is an external and diffuse legal principle in the sequel. I argue that in order to understand the prince’s personal reformation we need to examine first the additional models of reform that are projected, implemented, or unrealized by others. This chapter seeks to understand how a number of agents and groups that are represented in this sequel construct a durable or disastrous relationship, through reform, to the forces of state formation.

Keywords: 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, John Fortescue, Henry V, William Lambarde, Henry Medwall, Shakespeare, Thomas Smith, Star Chamber

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