Freedom of speech, 1500-1850

Edited by Robert Ingram, Jason Peacey and Alex W. Barber

Freedom of speech, 1500-1850


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  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4710-3
  • Pages: 280
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £90.00
  • Published Date: April 2020
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800), Legal history, History of ideas, History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Georgian Era (1714-1837), HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Stuart Era (1603-1714), HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Tudor & Elizabethan Era (1485-1603), Legal History, Society & social sciences / Political control & freedoms, North America (USA & Canada), England, Early 19th century c 1800 to c 1850, History, Early Modern History, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Humanities / Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, 18th century, c 1700 to c 1799, 17th century, c 1600 to c 1699, 16th century, c 1500 to c 1599, LAW / Legal History
  • Series: Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain


This collection brings together historians, political theorists and literary scholars to provide historical perspectives on the modern debate over freedom of speech, particularly the question of whether limitations might be necessary given religious pluralism and concerns about hate speech. It integrates religion into the history of free speech and rethinks what is sometimes regarded as a coherent tradition of more or less absolutist justifications for free expression. Contributors examine the aims and effectiveness of government policies, the sometimes contingent ways in which freedom of speech became a reality and a wide range of canonical and non-canonical texts in which contemporaries outlined their ideas and ideals. Overall, the book argues that while the period from 1500 to 1850 witnessed considerable change in terms of both ideas and practices, these were more or less distinct from those that characterise modern debates.


'[...] This is a hugely ambitious book that takes studies of freedom of speech forward in new and refreshing directions and is undoubtedly an addition to the literature worthy of close examination.'
Parliaments, Estates & Representation

'This well-designed collection of original essays by first-rate scholars will appeal to anyone interested in the important and controversial history of free speech.'
Diego Lucci, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Each of these authors raises powerful claims about the historical origins of one of the central elements of modern political thought and practice. Ingram, Peacey, and Barber have done us all a service by bringing them together.'
Andrew R. Murphy, Journal of British Studies


1 Freedom of speech in England and the Anglophone world, 1500-1850 - Jason Peacey, Robert G. Ingram and Alex W. Barber
2 Thomas Elyot on counsel, kairos and freeing speech in Tudor England - Joanne Paul
3 Pearls before swine: limiting godly speech in early seventeenth-century England - Karl Gunther
4 'Free speech' in Elizabethan and early Stuart England - Peter Lake
5 The origins of the concept of freedom of the press - David Como
6 Swift and free speech - David Womersley
7 Defending the truth: arguments for free speech and their limits in early eighteenth-century Britain and France - Ann Thomson
8 'The warr. against heaven by blasphemors and infidels': prosecuting heresy in Enlightenment England - Robert G. Ingram and Alex W. Barber
9 David Hume and 'Of the Liberty of the Press' (1741) in its original contexts - Max Skjönsberg
10 The argument for the freedom of speech and press during the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, 1787-8 - Patrick Peel
11 Before - and beyond - On Liberty: Samuel Bailey and the nineteenth-century theory of free speech - Greg Conti
12 Unfree, unequal, unempirical: press freedom, British India and Mill's theory of the public - Christopher Barker


Robert G. Ingram is Professor of History at Ohio University
Jason Peacey is Professor of Early Modern British History at University College London
Alex W. Barber is Assistant Professor of Early Modern British History at Durham University

Freedom of speech, 1500-1850

Edited by Robert Ingram, Jason Peacey, Alex W. Barber

Hardcover £90.00 / $140.00

Paperback £25.00 / $36.95

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