Dangerous Talk: Scandalous, Seditious, and Treasonable Speech in Pre-Modern England

Paperback | February 15, 2012

byDavid Cressy

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Dangerous Talk examines the 'lewd, ungracious, detestable, opprobrious, and rebellious-sounding' speech of ordinary men and women who spoke scornfully of kings and queens. Eavesdropping on lost conversations, it reveals the expressions that got people into trouble, and follows the fate of someof the offenders. Introducing stories and characters previously unknown to history, David Cressy explores the contested zones where private words had public consequence. Though 'words were but wind', as the proverb had it, malicious tongues caused social damage, seditious words challenged politicalauthority, and treasonous speech imperilled the crown. Royal regimes from the house of Plantagenet to the house of Hanover coped variously with 'crimes of the tongue' and found ways to monitor talk they deemed dangerous. Their response involved policing and surveillance, judicial intervention, political propaganda, and the crafting of new law. In earlyTudor times to speak ill of the monarch could risk execution. By the end of the Stuart era similar words could be dismissed with a shrug. This book traces the development of free speech across five centuries of popular political culture, and shows how scandalous, seditious and treasonable talkfinally gained protection as 'the birthright of an Englishman'. The lively and accessible work of a prize-winning social historian, it offers fresh insight into pre-modern society, the politics of language, and the social impact of the law.

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Dangerous Talk examines the 'lewd, ungracious, detestable, opprobrious, and rebellious-sounding' speech of ordinary men and women who spoke scornfully of kings and queens. Eavesdropping on lost conversations, it reveals the expressions that got people into trouble, and follows the fate of someof the offenders. Introducing stories and c...

Born in England and educated at Cambridge, David Cressy has made his career in the United States, where he is currently Humanities Distinguished Professor of History at Ohio State University. A social and cultural historian of early modern England, concerned with the intersections of elite and popular culture, central and local governm...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:392 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:February 15, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199606099

ISBN - 13:9780199606092

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Sins of the Tongue2. Abusive Words3. Speaking Treason4. Elizabethan Voices5. Words Against King James6. The Demeaning of Charles I7. Dangerous Words, 1625-16428. Revolutionary Seditions9. Charles II: The Veriest Rogue That Ever Reigned10. The Last of the Stuarts11. Dangerous Speech from Hanoverian to Modern England12. Dangerous Talk in Dangerous TimesBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"An important and convincing story, and David Cressy makes many useful reflections along the way upon the nature of early modern popular culture. In all respects this is another solid achievement from a reliably good historian." --Ronald Hutton, History