How could mere words send people to court, to prison, or the scaffold? Dangerous Talk shows how private words had public consequence, how malicious tongues caused social damage, seditious words challenged political authority, and treasonous speech imperilled the crown. In early Tudor 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, by a prize-winning social historian, traces free speech across five centuries of popular political culture, and shows how scandalous, seditious and treasonable talk finally gained protection as 'the birthright of an Englishman'.
Introduction; 1. Sins of the Tongue; 2. Abusive Words; 3. Speaking Treason; 4. Elizabethan Voices; 5. Words Against King James; 6. The Demeaning of Charles I; 7. Dangerous Words, 1625-1642; 8. Revolutionary Seditions; 9. Charles II: The Veriest Rogue That Ever Reigned; 10. The Last of the Stuarts; 11. Dangerous Speech from Hanoverian to Modern England; 12. Dangerous Talk in Dangerous Times; Bibliography
Reviews for Dangerous Talk: Scandalous, Seditious, and Treasonable Speech in Pre-Modern England
r s1splendid catalogue of outspokenness ... this engaging book opens a window into the social history of pre-modern politics. John Spurr, BBC History [Cressy's] meticulous research into unruly tongues touches upon village scandal, bawdy gossip and rumours, with colourful cases ranging from cursing in a Cheshire village to a row between Cambridge academics. Jenny Uglow, Financial Times Scholarly in nature and light in tone, Dangerous Talk is an intriguing glimpse into the private thoughts and public punishment of neighbors in pre-modern England. Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century