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Publication - The highest of time

Regina Pörtner (Department of History & Classics) has had a monograph published that investigates the competing concepts of sovereignty and their practical political consequences for the organisation of government and the formulation of rights of resistance.

The study tracks and analyses the parliamentary debates and royalist responses at the beginning of the 1640s and then explores the radical positions of 1646-49, the Engagement Controversy of 1649-52, the transformation of the concept of ‘mixed government’ during the Protectorate, and the resurgence and failure of utopian republicanism in 1658-60.


The monograph is based on the analysis of a wide range of pamphlets and treatises by prominent thinkers as well as mainstream writers who exerted a demonstrable influence on the debate. One of the major strengths of this study lies in the presentation of fresh evidence demonstrating the influence of Dutch and German legal writers whose ideas of composite sovereignty, based on the model of the Dutch Republic and on that of the Holy Roman Empire helped accommodate the notion of sovereignty within the English legal tradition. A concluding chapter assesses the contribution of mid-century ideas on composite sovereignty to the kind of solution of long-term constitutional problems that was achieved by the Glorious Revolution of 1688/89. 

The book was presented at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair and at the Biannual Conference of German Early Modernists, which was held in Aachen in September this year.

The highest of time’: Verfassungskrise und politische Theorie in England 1640-1660, Historische Forschungen Bd. 90, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2009 Print: 978-3-428-13100-6. E-book: 978-3-428-531004 (= Political thought and the crisis of the constitution in England, 1640-1660)

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