Life and Law in Early Modern England - Selden’s Historie of Tithes

February 8, 2011

John Selden, 1584-1654. The historie of tithes that is, the practice of payment of them (London, 1618). Collection of the Elizabethan Club of Yale University; gift of the daughters of Samuel Hart Selden, May 1922.

Early modern legal scholarship focused at great length upon the question of whether secular or ecclesiastical courts were supreme. Between 1605 and 1613, a series of ecclesiastical lawyers and scholars drew upon the interpretations of medieval canon lawyers and some historical evidence to make strident attacks upon lay ownership of tithes. John Selden’s 1618 Historie of Tithes, a major work of legal history, responded to this controversy. He analyzed European laws and natural law theory to show that payment of tithes had always been a matter for local secular courts instead of being determined by the laws of God in ecclesiastical courts.

    – Justin Zaremby

“Life and Law in Early Modern England,” an exhibition marking the Centenary of the Elizabethan Club, is curated by Justin Zaremby with Mike Widener, and is on display February-May 2011 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library Yale Law School.

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