THE ROOTS OF FREEDOM: A Constitutional History of England by Bernard Schwartz

THE ROOTS OF FREEDOM: A Constitutional History of England

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KIRKUS REVIEW

During 1965 and 1966 several new interpretations of the Magna Carta and English constitutional development were published--all tagged to either the 750th anniversary of the issuing of the Magna Carta in 1215 or that most familiar of schoolboy dates, 1066. What the readers of this country would seem to used less is another such volume. Bernard Schwartz, author of The Reins of Powers: A Constitutional History of the United States, has proved otherwise. The Roots of Freedom is a sober, scholarly analysis of how and why English and, peripherally, American, constitutional polity has taken the form it has. The author lays much more stress on the early developments under the Norman kings than do other historians. There is nothing romantic in his thesis. Schwartz states that ""English constitutional history is far more obligated to its wicked, than its righteous, monarchs."" Many of the steps, such as the Magna Carta, the Statute of Westminster in 1285, the abolishment of the Star Chamber by the First Session of the Long Parliament in 1641, the establishment of a cabinet system in 1680, were the accidents of history, bargains struck in crisis, and not determined changes. Nineteenth-century reform and the contemporary scene are covered in a concluding chapter. As a survey of the subject this volume whould serve students well. The general reader may be irritated somewhat by the fulsome use of the pedagogical third person plural. There is no doubt, however, that the author has provided a new perspective on an over-worked subject.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1967
Publisher: Hill & Wang