ńňđ. 7
(âńĺăî 14)



further casuistic response to the contingent authority of global principles
was the generation of meta-rules and procedures to maintain intellectual
order. Casuistry might be restricted to physical locations. Initially the
Jesuits gave it sanctuary in the confessional, but as Sir Simon Harcourt
would argue in defence of Sacheverell in 1710, if there are extraordinary
cases, they should not be aired in the pulpit; it should dwell only on

John Killcullen, Sincerity and Truth (Oxford, 1998), pp. 10ff; David Clarkson, The
Practical Divinity of the Papists Discovered to be Destructive of Christianity and Men’s
Souls (1675), chs. 7, 8; William Reeves, The Nature of Truth and Falsity (1712); also
L’Estrange, The Casuist Uncas’d, p. 51.
Peter Martyr Vermigli, ‘De tyrannide’, Commentary on Genesis 34, in The Political
Thought of Peter Martyr Vermigli, ed. Robert Kingdon (Geneva, 1980), p. 109; Willett,
Harmonie on the First Booke of Samuel, p. 346; Leonard Wright, A Display of Duty
(1616), fol. 20r; Boyle, ‘Aretology’, in Early Essays, p. 38; Reeves, Truth and Falsity, and
Clarkson, Practical Divinity, both make much of this tag. It is cited widely in the
literature discussed in chapters 10, 14 and 15, below.
John Wilson, The Cheats (1662, 1671), 5.4.
Burnet, History, vol. V, pp. 434–5.
Shakespeare, 2Henry IV 2.2.
Rutherford, Lex Rex, Q.24.
176 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
normal morality.25 Casuistry controlled in the confessional might become
acceptable if thrown out of church.
In an earlier discussion I outlined what I took to be two types of
casuistry, exceptional and extensive.26 By exceptional I referred to the sort
of unadorned appeal to emergency or necessity that might excuse wrong-
doing. In Machiavelli’s Prince it is insisted that necessity sometimes re-
quires that princes behave badly. Unadorned, this provides a morally thin
defence, and as Thomas Fitzherbert argued forcibly, as a generalised rule
it was hopelessly incoherent.27
My suggested typology, however, now seems to me to be unhelpful. It
may generally be truer to say that exceptional casuistry is less a clear
type of moral argument than an overly elliptical justification tacitly as-
suming some good end to mitigate desperate means. And the appeal to a
general end, or rationale for a rule in order to override qualms about the
conduct of those in office, was a tactic found across the moral landscape:
‘governors in cases of great extremities’, wrote Richard Beacon of Irish
unrest, ‘may proceede against offendors, without observing the usual
ceremonies of lawes. After this manner did Cicero proceede against
Lentulus, and Cethegus’.28 Such actions, he assures the reader, are not
tyrannous: for Reformation’s sake, hammer the Irish. Necessity, claimed
Robert Darlington, gave a latitude in the management of great affairs.29
Daniel Tuvill wrote that in matters undertaken for the ‘well-ordering of a
State or commonweale, [there] may seeme sometimes, seeme (I say) to
have in them . . . some ruder lineaments and traces of unjustice’ but a
public person must so ‘conforme his carriage that the benefit of the
publicke weale maybe the only . . . scope of his endeavours’.30 When
William Ames referred to the court of equity as having more law
than the law itself because it did not consider the law so much as the ends
of the law, he was making exactly this sort of move.31 He was committing
neither himself nor the court to a type of argument. The great maxim, ‘the
good of the people is the supreme law’ (salus populi suprema lex est), which
reverberated throughout the seventeenth century, proves a reliable guide

See Burnet, History, vol. V, pp. 427–8; John Sharp, ‘The Duty of Subjection to Higher
Powers’ (1700), in Works, vol. II, pp. 34–5.
Condren, Satire, Lies and Politics, ch. 6.
Niccolo Machiavelli, Il Principe (1513), in Il Principe e Discorsi, ed. Sergio Bertelli
(Milan, 1973 edn), ch. 15, pp. 65–6; ch. 18, pp. 73–4; cf. Thomas Fitzherbert, An sic
utilitas in scelere (Rome, 1616), at length.
Beacon, Solon his Follie, p. 16.
Peltonen, Classical Humanism, p. 157.
Tuvill, The Doue, pp. 36–40; see also Peltonen, Classical Humanism, p. 158.
Brown, Donne, p. 21.
Casuistry as the mediation of office 177
to the casuistic insistence on the scope, or end of law to override the
normally binding force of its specifics. So Strafford apparently urged
Charles I that having tried all normal means, in dire necessity, ‘and for
the Safety of Your Kingdom and People, You are loose and absolved from
all Rules of Government’.32 Bring in the Irish. When Bishop Burnet
remarked that Oliver Cromwell was all too willing to excuse his actions
in terms of necessity, and indeed when Burnet himself made much the
same move in justifying the ousting of James II, neither was really relying
on a distinctive type of casuistry, but presupposing the moral impera-
tives and awareness of office that necessity served – the duty of English-
men and Christians to preserve the Reformation and the whole frame of
good government.33 In a different context, Burnet, like Beacon, makes
use of the authority of Cicero to justify dispensing with the niceties of law;
and elsewhere summarises debates in parliament as arguing that ‘real
necessity . . . extraordinary occasions, must supersede the forms of law
. . . Forms were only rules for peaceable times’.34 This was what could be
meant by reference to the supreme law. Even with Machiavelli’s Prince,
my principal example of exceptional casuistry, we find some residual trace
of the office of the good soldier, even if there is little inkling of service to
the state or the public good (see below, chapter 10).
The medieval doctrine of extreme necessity had allowed the appropri-
ation of the means to live because, being God’s property, we could not
wilfully die.35 In early modern England, assertions about natural law
became a way of limiting such casuistry, insofar as natural law theory
was a projection and rationalisation of a world of moral offices. By
natural law, then, we are given rights of self-defence and appropriation,
but for a reason. That is, exceptional casuistry was apt to assume a context
of moral imperatives, and the need to defend action characteristically
led to the justificatory explication that I had called extensive casuistry.
In effect, the appeal to necessity stood between specific infringements and
the scope of an office. We are dealing not with types, but with the
difference between the presupposed and the explicit.
With extensive casuistry, I argued, the casuist redescribes the question-
able course of action in a way that shows it not to be a breach of a moral

Tuck, Philosophy and Government, p. 223, quoting Rushworth, Memorials, vol. VIII,
p. 545.
Burnet, History, cf. vol. I, pp. 78, 136 with vol. III, pp. 227–8.
Ibid., vol. IV, p. 334, and pp. 72–3.
S. G. Swanson, ‘The Medieval Foundations of Locke’s Theory of Natural Rights: The
Rights of Subsistence and the Principle of Extreme Necessity’, History of Political
Thought, 18, 3 (1997), pp. 403–6; see also below on Anthony Ascham, chapter 14; see also
James Tully, A Discourse on Property: John Locke and his Adversaries (Cambridge, 1982).
178 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
requirement at all, but really an adherence to a further, unrecognised
moral value, even the defence of an office. So, for example, Aquinas had
argued that a just cause was needed if rulers were to go beyond the law.36
It may be that this is the point of reiterating the biblical mantra to do
no evil that good may come of it; the reader might be reassured that
what was being recommended was not really evil; hence Tuvill’s crucial
(Thomistic) qualification, already cited, that apparently dubious actions
may seem, ‘seeme (I say)’, to be unjust. Judged by a relevant standard, or
when the activity’s scope is explicated, actions are shown to conform to
the ethics of an office. As John Pym justified his opposition to Charles I in
1643, like Cicero defending Rome against Catalinus, law was broken only
for a greater good. But his enemies, Pym protested, had made his actions
vicious when they were in fact ‘my principal Virtue, my Care to the
publicke Utility’.37

A better, though still slippery distinction now seems to me to be between
what I shall call presumptive casuistry, where an office and its most salient
obligations can be taken for granted, and modal casuistry where the
relevant office is itself the issue. Much of what we recognise to be casuistry
operated under the auspices of a unitary perception of office or moral
persona and so concerned a single line of ethical imperatives. Depending
on circumstances, these might be largely implicit and presupposed, under-
stood precisely, or stretched to accommodate differing patterns of action.
Thus Aristotle’s discussion of to epieiketes had addressed the question
of whether equity is opposed to justice. Because Aristotle concluded that
it is a form of justice opposed only to the application of a given rule, it
was easy to assimilate Aristotle’s text to predominantly presumptive
casuistry. This was ideal for lawyers who could use the discussion to
reinforce the belief that exceptions to the law had to be within the scope
of the law and determined by lawyers.38 Again, a stable and shared set of
values, say those of the Catholic priest, might be assumed, and the ques-
tion becomes how to fit the specific case to it. And if the values pertaining
to the office could be ordered hierarchically, so much the better. If a range
of similar values is accepted (say charity, humility, piety) there may be
nothing in such reasoning to disturb a universalist ethical deontology.

Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, II.i.96.5; II.i.97.4 cited in Wilks, The Problem of
Sovereignty, p. 223.
Tuck, Philosophy and Government, p. 226.
Cromartie, Constitutionalist Revolution, ch. 2.
Casuistry as the mediation of office 179
For simplicity’s sake, or perhaps for the purposes of reassurance, this is
the focus of Gabriel Daniel’s defence of casuistry. As he pointed out, the
bulk of Catholic casuistic reasoning is advice to priests about their con-
fessional duties and not for everyone to use as he or she will. Moreover, he
argues, what might be condemned if considered only in terms of jus-
tice might well be praised if considered under the neighbouring, possibly
greater virtue of charity.39 In this context, prudence becomes the clerical
virtue of discerning when normal rules are inadequate, or when the
implications of governing virtues are not adequately understood.
Frequently, however, casuistic argument was more than a matter of
trading in virtues under the aegis of a single office and its end. When
multiple offices were involved, it could be altogether more difficult to
presume an established hierarchy of virtues as unambiguous criteria for
judgement; a highly generalised virtue term (humility, prudence, love), if
shared, could be given different content in reference to diverging realms
of responsibility. If casuistry is most important where morality is most
difficult, it was most needed where people were caught between conflic-
ting patterns of duty. There might not be just single values at play, but
alternative personae. Thus to return to the seventeenth-century lawyer and
the authority of Aristotle: if it could be argued that the lawyer’s office was
restricted to the application of legal rules, equity in the form, say, of
clemency could be the virtue appropriate to the sovereign who stood
outside the legal framework; so equity belonged to the prerogatives of
the sovereign’s office. This was the line taken by writers deemed ‘absolut-
ist’, and it was the fear of such a virtue to override the application of law
that provided a driving force behind common lawyers’ attempts to encom-
pass equity within legal purview. The clash between common law and
sovereignty was thus partially channelled by the presumptive or more
modal dimensions of casuistry. This modal style of casuistic move was a
natural, if intermittent consequence of positions such as Donne’s, that
wrong-doing was a function of disobedience to proper command. When
authorities commanded differently, the demands had to be weighted in
any definition of sin. So even parricide might be allowable.40 One way to
resolve the possibility of incommensurable moral imperatives was to posit
hierarchies of office beyond hierarchies of virtue within the scope of a
given office. There was, however, something rather ad hoc in such
reasoning, and it could itself be subject to casuistic exception. The force
of the scepticism of Carneades, towards what he had taken to be the

Gabriel Daniel, The Discourses of Cleander and Eudoxus on the Provincial Letters (1694,
1704), p. 444.
Donne, Biathanatos, pp. 10–11.
180 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
naiveties and evasions of stoicism, lay in the persistent tensions between
the ethical demands of adjacent offices. The upshot was his principle that
virtue in any absolute sense is unattainable and paradoxically tainted with
vice. The point had been confronted pretty directly by Cicero, who de-
voted Book III of De officiis to a range of cases in which duties appeared
to be in conflict. Toulmin and Jonsen call it the first ‘case book’ of
casuistry, but correctly point out that Socrates’ dilemma when awaiting
execution was a matter of resolving a conflict between duties in tension.41
Overall, moral theory in the ancient world was noticeably concerned with
the case law needed to supplement and modify the modal morality of
In medieval legal casuistry it was precisely the special status, or office,
of a ruler that permitted actions denied to others. In Book 1 of Utopia, as I
have already discussed, More intimated similar tensions between what is
proper for the scholar and what is needed of the counsellor. Hitchcock and
Raleigh read Machiavelli in such a casuistical tradition. For Hitchcock, a
prince had to assume ‘the skinne of the Foxe and the Lion’. He could
rightly do for his own protection and the public good (Hitchcock’s ethi-
cising adjustment) what in ‘private persons’ would be ‘vicious and unlaw-
full’.42 For Raleigh, also, because a ruler had his chief care in the good of
the people, it was sometimes necessary to do what in a private person
would be reprehensible. But if necessary for some good end, dissimulation
must remain within the bounds of virtue and piety. In a world of craft it
was necessary to presuppose evil intent in others, and a prince must be
prepared to play both fox and lion, up to a point. Any man might be
caught between the requirements of private friendship and public duty: he
might have to ‘omit the Offices due to . . . Country or draw . . . dearest
friends into danger’. In the last analysis (at least on this occasion) the
offices to country must take priority.43 Goslicius made a parallel point
about the citizen: he may in other ways be unjust, intemperate and
cowardly, but as a citizen he is good if diligent in ‘the service of the state’.44
As I will conclude in chapter 10, the so-called autonomy-of-politics thesis
is largely a distorted recognition of such modal casuistry. It is, however,
all more than a matter of politics. The principal mechanism by which
Othello moves to its grisly culmination is Emilia’s entrapment between her
duties as Iago’s wife and as servant to Desdemona. She is, in fact, quite
sanguine about casuistical reasoning: ‘who would not make her husband a

Toulmin and Jonsen, The Abuse of Casuistry, p. 75.
Hitchcock, A Sanctuary, pp. 85–6; discussed in Peltonen, Classical Humanism, p. 158.
Raleigh, Cabinet Council, ch. 20, p. 55, ch. 25, pp. 120, 145–6.
Goslicius, The Counsellor, p. 37; see Peltonen, Classical Humanism, p. 109.
Casuistry as the mediation of office 181
cuckold to make him a monarch? I should venture purgatory for ’t’. Too
late she realises the enormity of Iago’s conduct in which she has connived
out of obedience: ‘’Tis proper I obey him – but not now.’45 Robert
Browne, in writing of the different ‘orbs’ of men and women, attributed
to each appropriate virtues and vices. The ground for such suggestions of
moral modality was prepared by his general fideism, the belief that what
might hold for divinity, might not be acceptable in philosophy.46 This
indirect descendant of the medieval Averroistic two truths doctrine, and
the more recent and much publicised views of Pietro Pomponazzi, ration-
alises a binary modal morality.47
Lying provides a specific focus, especially as before the sixteenth cen-
tury St Augustine’s absolute prohibitions against it were taken by most
writers as universally binding.48 Honesty, then, might seem to have been
a value shared by all offices, and, unlike charity, one that maintained
singular form. Nevertheless, distinctions between types of lie softened
Augustinian demands to differing senses of office. Leonard Wright distin-
guished lying for delight from lying out of spite, lying perniciously and
lying politically.49 Such qualification allowed variable degrees of con-
demnation. The politic lie, which Wright designated as any lie for advan-
tage, was justified casuistically if the scope of the office were considered.
Redescribed as subtlety or prudence, it was accommodated to the ethics
of the office of rule.50 As we have already seen, however, the actor
provided a thorough exception. The player had to lie to be true to his
office. Conversely, if lying was universally to be condemned, acting was
denied official standing; it could only be immoral role-play. At the begin-
ning of the eighteenth century, Dr William Reeves, an obdurate defender
of honesty under all circumstances, allows only Christ the latitude of
allegorical lying; parables were necessary for his office.51
What gave so much casuistry a quasi-utilitarian ethos was not the
proposition that the end justifies the means, but that a questionable act
in one capacity might become allowable if subordinated to the moral
requirements of an office; the means must serve a moral scope. To claim

Shakespeare, Othello 4.3; 5.2.
Browne, Christian Morals, pp. 265, 275; Browne, Religio Medici, p. 122.
See Lohr, ‘Metaphysics’, in Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, pp. 602–7;
Antonino Poppi, ‘Fate, Fortune, Providence and Human Freedom’, in ibid., pp. 653–60.
Peter Abelard seems to be a recently discovered exception, see Peter von Moos, ‘Literary
Aesthetics in the Latin Middle Ages: The Rhetorical Theology of Peter Abelard’, in
Constant J. Mews, Cary J. Nederman and Rodney M. Thompson, eds., Rhetoric and
Renewal in the Latin West, 1100–1540 (Turnhout, 2003), pp. 81–97.
Wright, Display of Duty, fol. 20r.
Rogers, Philosophicall Discourse, p. 107.
Reeves, Truth and Falsity, pp. 8–9.
182 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
office was to lay hold of the defence that, in a given case, one sort of duty
took precedence over another. What the servant could not say, the coun-
sellor must; what the woman could not steal, the mother might. What the
subject must accept, the citizen, or the patriot, might stand against. The
moral discourse of early modern Europe is littered with cases of this sort,
the surviving shards of the constant attempts to control the potent and
contestable rhetorics of office. Richard Baxter in his almost unending
correspondence is persistently taken up with the pastoral work of settling
doubts as to the moral framework in which a man or woman was acting,
as well as the more straightforward cases restricted to what a parent or a
neighbour might do. Voices at law were relentlessly casuistic in both the
presumptive and modal senses.52 By the same token, the moral ties of
honesty might be loosened if unjust demands were imposed by someone
abusing office.53
For Donne casuistry provided a poetic as well as a moral motif. Biatha-
natos is perhaps the most extensive and brilliant example of his grappling
with presumptive casuistry, for suicide is largely pertinent to the office of
the soul; but, as Meg Lota Brown has elegantly argued, the case the poet
puts in ‘The Sunne Rising’ is a casuistic one. Under normal circumstances
one should be up and about one’s work, the conduct of one’s office, even
as the country ants should obey the sun’s beckoning them to their
offices.54 The sun was a constant image of the office of rule that ordered
subordinate spheres of activity.55 Its ‘duties bee/ To warme the world’. The
refusal to let the sun through the curtains and to obey its brazen call is
initially couched in terms of the lovers knowing no limit and being deaf to
moral imperative. ‘Love, all alike, no season knowes, nor clyme’, it recog-
nises only its own demands; the voice of the lover is an appeal to necessity.
The ground for this hostility is prepared from the opening lines; the sun is
personified as an invader (‘Busie olde foole, unruly Sunne’), abusing its
office (‘sawcy pedantique wretch’), and by entering the lovers’ room
provokes a casuistically justified resistance. The poem’s final stanza,

Richard Baxter, The Christian Directory (1673); Ames, Conscience; William Perkins, A
Whole Treatise of the Cases of Conscience (1608); Boyle, ‘The Aretology’, in Early Essays,
pp. 3–143; Lamont, Richard Baxter and the Millennium, esp. pp. 33–40 on Baxter’s
advisory energies.
Toulmin and Jonsen, The Abuse of Casuistry, p. 201, citing Azor, Institutionum, I.x.iv;
Brown, Donne, pp. 112–13.
Bennett, Reviving Liberty, pp. 36–8; the opening lines of Shakespeare’s Richard III
provide an intricate pun on this association; Gosson, The Ephemerides, bk. 2: ‘the Sunne
reciuethe the day to his charge’, 25r; also Bacon, ‘Speech to the Speaker’s Excuse’, in
Works, vol. VI, pp. 70–1; Andrew Marvell, ‘The Last Instructions to a Painter’ (1667), in
Complete Poems, ed. Elizabeth Donno (Harmondsworth, 1978 edn), lines 957–9.
Casuistry as the mediation of office 183
however, resolves the tensions between a range of dichotomous pairings,
human, natural, young, old, inner and outer. It seems to claim an office
higher than princely rule for the lovers themselves (‘Princes doe but play
us’); this at once converts the bedchamber into a microcosm of the world,
and subordinates the sun’s office to their own. The invading sun is invited
in to do its duty and warm them. The invitation is a gracious condescen-
sion to one whose ‘age askes ease’; and so with a play on two metaphors
for office, the walls of a room become the sun’s ‘spheare’.56
I have noted that the stage image of Henry V was of a multiple persona,
an exhibition of seamless movement between offices (chapter 6). Never-
theless a disquieting spectre of casuistry overshadows the centrepiece of
his reign. It is, after all, two plotting clerics who at the outset let loose
the war-like Harry on hapless France. Threatened by a bill that might
impoverish the church, the bishops of Canterbury and Ely decide to
distract the young king by reactivating the questionable claim to his
cousin’s throne. They are themselves compound personae, churchmen
and counsellors, and they justify their proposed manipulation of the
monarch to each other as protection of the church. Henry, however,
reminds them of their solemn obligations as counsellors. Well he might,
knowing that the proposed enterprise would cause ‘much fall of blood
whose guiltless drops/ Are every one a woe’. ‘We charge you in the name of
God take heed . . . that what you speak is in your conscience wash’d/ As
pure as sin with baptism.’57 In this he already exhibits his understanding
of the relationships between rule and counsel. Frank, honest counsel must
be taken seriously; the better the king at listening, the more burdensome
the office of counselling, for the more it is joined in rule.
Had the play started with Henry’s portentous warnings, there would be
no evidence to suggest a casuistic disingenuousness in the advice he gets
and in the detailed genealogical adumbration of the right to the French
crown. But we have already been privy to the whisperings of Canterbury
and Ely whose words have all the moral ambiguity of modal casuistry. In
response to Henry, the cleric/counsellors put their case, sliding between
responsibilities in potential conflict and persuading him his cause is just. It
is not clear that the invasion is ever really just or justified; but having
delegated his responsibility to his counsellors, Henry can proceed with
some moral assurance carrying his potential scapegoats with him.58 His

Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost for a further variation; according to the elegiac
Berowne, who has also appealed to necessity (1.1), love blesses inferior offices with its
power, ‘gives every power a double power,/ Above their functions and their offices’, 4.3.
Shakespeare, Henry V 1.1.
See Hall, Chronicles, p. 46; cited in Mack, Elizabethan Rhetoric, pp. 171, 308.
184 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
victory is their vindication, but this is not a sense of ethical assurance we
now share. A morally autonomous individual cannot delegate such re-
sponsibility, a persona can. As Raleigh put it, in a good state counsel rules.
Shakespeare returned to the difficulties of persona and responsibility in the
debates before Agincourt. It was no business of the ordinary soldier to
understand the justness of the cause. Only his soul was his own, which is to
say directly God’s; for the rest he was but the obedient soldier. Following
orders was a virtue of his office; it was Henry who must carry any weight
of guilt, if it had not already been deflected onto his clerical counsel.
Casuistry was not simply displaced or superseded by alternative theories
of ethics. There has been no simple dialectic or progressive change in the
history of ethical reasoning. This is partly because casuistry has survived
as it has contracted with the restricted scope of office; academically it is
now almost co-extensive with practical ethics. It is partly because the now
commonplace opposition between universalist deontology and conse-
quentialism separates into distinct doctrines, the principles of the right
(honestas) and the useful (utilitas), when traditionally these had been
combined whenever possible. It is also because these more abstract alter-
natives arose from casuistry’s perceived shortcomings; indeed they for-
malise the negative dimensions of casuistry itself. That is, if casuistry was
an idiom of ethical reasoning essential to the mediation of office, it was as
much a part of the armoury of accusation where, in a given case, that
mediation was rejected in the name of office. Hence it is from a world of
offices that we find a clear insistence that casuistry can be the art of
justifying the wrong, of rule-mongering to find exceptions to binding
precepts.59 The Kantian attack on the partiality of casuistry, its inherent
drift towards the evaporation of general moral principles, was at one with
accusations against the art by those fearful for the integrity of official
relationships; casuistry seemed to allow the collar of office to be slipped
and replaced by a cloak of spurious responsibility.60 The elevation of the
consideration of consequence, utilitas, to pre-eminence in moral judge-
ments, associated most emphatically with Bentham, is the isolation of a
procedural principle in much casuistic reasoning. The consequences for
the telos of an office had always to be considered. Somehow, in ethical
reasoning utilitas became opposed to honestas, around which have
hardened oppositional theories of ethical conduct and reasoning, and I

Killcullen, Sincerity and Truth, Essay 1.
On Kant’s critique of casuistry, as well as his failure to escape it, see H. D. Kittsteiner,
‘Kant and Casuistry’, in Edmund Leites, ed., Conscience and Casuistry in Early Modern
Europe (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 185–213.
Casuistry as the mediation of office 185
suspect that it was disputes on the misuse of casuistry that did most to
bring this about.
In a more positive sense, if office can be assumed, what I have called
presumptive casuistry can seem close to universalist deontology rendering
irrelevant problems of ethical modality. If a single sense of office cannot be
assumed, modal casuistry, in stressing ends and differing functions, is
suggestive of utilitarianism. Casuistry, then, was janus-like playing a part
in both the positive and negative registers of the ethics of office. As an
instrument of office it excited as much assiduous attention to perceived
misuse as it was needed wherever moral discourse had practical relevance –
where, in short, there were real problems about what values should guide
one’s action, or in what capacity one should act. The habitual omission of
casuistry from standard histories of ethics is not only distortion, it is the
sacrifice of an opportunity to explain the existence of more familiar moral
positions, the responses to its inescapable but disturbing importance.
Casuistry, then, marked the line between normality, the ordered conduct
under the regimen of an office, and the abnormality, necessity or emer-
gency where rules and principles suddenly seemed problematic. Gross
social abnormality made casuists of everyone. What divided people, and
so their necessarily shifting attitudes to casuistry, was disagreement on the
grossness of the abnormality. This is easily overlooked if political dis-
course is reduced to a clash of principles and ideologies, or as the dramatic
transformation of embedded political dispositions. The question, for
example, of just when the conservative puritans became radical revolu-
tionaries, in advocating resistance to the monarch, is a weirdly anachron-
istic case in point.61 It leads directly to the general issue of resistance: less
as theory, doctrine or ideology than as an illustration of the necessary evil
of casuistry.

William Lamont, ‘Richard Baxter, Popery and the Origins of the English Civil War’,
History, 87 (2002), pp. 336–52.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _The__________ _ _ _case___________ _ _ _of_____ _ _ _resistance___________________________ _ _ _to_____ _ _ _superior_______________________ _ _ power_________________________________

What is the cause that Europe groans at present under the heavy load of
a cruel and expensive war, but the tyrannical custom of a certain nation,
and the scrupulous nicety of a silly Queen.
(John Arbuthnot, The History of John Bull )

If hostility is any guide, resistance theory was pervasive in the early
modern world, but the tacit academic assumption has been that theory
means justification, or advocacy – what else are theories about? In this
ideological guise, resistance has assumed singular significance in narra-
tives about sovereignty, democracy, liberty, liberalism and individualism.
Yet, if scholars have been enthusiastic in its pursuit through the tomes of
early modernity, they have often been left with the task of constructing
theories from fragments and asides in order to do what previous writers
should really have done for themselves.1 Duncan Forbes’s remark, how-
ever, that expecting political philosophy to be preoccupied with resistance
is like expecting treatises on marriage to be about divorce, has more than
witticism to commend it.2 The analogy points to the casuistic nature of the
problem.3 This was not lost on that spouse of Britain James VI&I. The
notion that the people may act to preserve the commonwealth against

Frank Grunnart, ‘Sovereignty and Resistance: The Development of a Right of Resistance
in German Natural Law’, in Ian Hunter and David Saunders, eds., Natural Law and Civil
Sovereignty: Moral Right and State Authority in Early Modern Political Thought
(London, 2002), pp. 123–38.
Duncan Forbes, Hume’s Philosophical Politics (Cambridge, 1975), p. 323.
Margaret Sampson, ‘ “Will you Hear what a Casuist he is?” Thomas Hobbes as Director
of Conscience’, History of Political Thought, 11, 4 (1990), pp. 721–36; Margaret
Sampson, ‘Liberty and Laxity in Seventeenth-Century English Political Thought’, in
Lietes, ed., Conscience and Casuistry, pp. 72–119; Glenn Burgess, ‘Religious War and
Constitutional Defence: Justifications for Resistance in English Puritan Thought, 1590–
1643’, in R. von Friedeburg, ed., Widerstandsrecht in der fruhen Neuzeit (Berlin, 2001),
pp. 185–206, for valuable treatments of political theory as casuistry.

The case of resistance to superior power 187
the Free Monarch is to be condemned, he asserted, for the Bible tells us
that no evil can be done that good may come of it.4 The purpose of this
chapter is to return ‘resistance theory’ to the casuistry of office from
whence it came.
During the early modern era, the term resistance was predominantly a
negotiable, near-empty classifier, argument being largely divided between
competing patterns of redescription: at one extreme, resistance was really
rebellion, at another just defence. Between these lay a good deal of
rhetorical ingenuity, but we need to start with rebellion, for alternative
descriptions were responses to its power. As rebellion, resistance was
emphatically accommodated to the negative register of the vocabulary of
office and the vast majority of statements can probably be placed under
this rubric. With rebellion came accusations of conspiracy, tumult, trea-
son, sedition, insurrection, violence and murder. The motivations explain-
ing this not nice behaviour were equally lurid: ambition, pride, rapacity
and envy. The authority of the Bible was persistently pressed to the
excoriation of rebellion. With rare exception, such as Israel’s rising
against Rehoboam and the house of David (1 Kings 13: 19), rebellion
lurked in the shadow of the ‘son of the morning’ (Isaiah 14: 12), the angel
of the bottomless pit (Revelation 9: 11). Lucifer was the first rebel.5 Under
such circumstances even those openly in arms against authority might
need circumlocutions for apparently overt acts of resistance. Those in-
volved in ‘Kett’s Rebellion’ were but violent petitioners.6 They lost and
were rebels. Predictably, Civil War disruption deepened the almost indel-
ible opprobrium of the words rebellion and rebel, with rare exception.7
The odium of rebellion was such that equation with resistance was itself
condemnation; thus Henry Ferne at the outbreak of the Civil Wars:
parliamentary resistance to the king is rebellion, therefore the deaths it
will cause will be murder.8 Looking back on the wars, Lawson argued that
justifying rebellion was hardly possible. The issue had to be rephrased.9
The question was whether the alleged ‘Devil of Rebellion’ might be

James VI&I, The Trew Law of free Monarchies, in Workes, p. 206.
Anon, Against Wilful Rebellion, in Certain Sermons, p. 352; Heylyn, The Rebels
Catechism, p. 2; see, additionally, Condren, ‘Liberty of Office’, p. 462; J. C. Davis,
‘Religion and the Struggle for Freedom in the English Revolution’, Historical Journal, 35
(1992), pp. 507ff.
Rev. F. W. Russell, Kett’s Rebellion in Norfolk (London, 1859), the documentation in
which shows rebels presenting themselves as petitioners, at one with the king, and only
hostile accounts calling them rebels and traitors, e.g. pp. 48–56.
Sidney, Discourses, ch. 3, sect. 36, p. 519; rebellion is only to re-open a war.
Henry Ferne, The Resolving of Conscience (1642).
Lawson, Politica, ch. 15.8, pp. 230–2.
188 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
described as something like ‘an Angel of Reformation’.10 This issue
of redescription reverberated throughout the early modern world. Ad-
dressing it had been Philip Hunton’s brief in defending the actions of
parliament against Charles I. He was unusual, however, in making the
word resistance the focus of attention.
Hunton distinguished negative from positive resistance arguing that
each must be considered differently in the contexts of absolute and limited
monarchies. Negative resistance covered flight, the appeal to law and
concealment,11 and it stemmed from the recognised virtue of suffering.12
Additionally, the articulate might petition, and the holy might admonish
the mighty.13 Limited, or mixed monarchies gave more scope for such
negative resistance without its being rebellion than did monarchies
tending to absoluteness. Positive resistance was the use of defensive force
and here Hunton imposed major restrictions: it could not be undertaken
in contravention to oaths of obedience; it must stop short of violence to
the person of the ruler.14 Resistance, whatever it amounted to, arose in the
context of these slippery qualifications to obedience. In the same year,
Peter Heylyn’s brief had been to refute every reformulation and casuis-
tic exception to obedience as really cases of rebellion. Assertions about
evil counsel, defence of property, religion and law against alleged tyranny
were all rebellions of heart, hand and mind. And whether hand be armed
with pen, or sword under the pretext of defensive arms, was all one.15
Later, stepping back from Heylyn’s capacious notion of rebellion, Chris-
topher Harvey accepted that a few acts were only so-called rebellion, but
those properly designated remained satanically wicked; while Jeremy
Taylor, who had ways of qualifying most absolute injunctions, insisted
that the rule prohibiting subjects taking up arms against a sovereign was
among the most binding.16 What is called resistance theory, then, was the
casuistry involved in finding descriptive latitude for presumptively re-
bellious acts against office, the attempts to maintain a verbal and moral
space quarantined from Luciferian pollution. The ‘word “rebellion” – it

Charles I, Eikon Basilike, p. 235; A. Sellar, The History of Passive Obedience (1689),
p. 132.
Hunton, Treatise, pp. 4–9, 25 and pt. 2; pp. 8, 14.
Rogers, Philosophical Discourse, p. 156; Willett, Harmonie on the Second Booke of
Samuel, p. 12; Sellar, History of Passive Obedience, p. 132.
Hugh Latimer, sermon (8 March 1549) before King Edward, in Fruitful Sermons, fol.
25v; Thomas Bell, The Regiment of the Church (1606), pp. 4–5.
Hunton, Treatise, pp. 66, 15, 28, 55–61, 64, 65.
Heylyn, Rebels Catechism, pp. 3–9, 10; see also Anon., A Looking Glass for Rebels (1643);
Seth Ward, Against Resistance to Lawful Powers (1661, 1710), pp. 8–9.
Harvey, Faction Supplanted, sect. 7 and pp. 28–9; Taylor, Ductor dubitantium, pp. 149–50.
The case of resistance to superior power 189
had froze them up,/ As fish are in a pond. But now the Bishop/ Turns
insurrection to religion.’17

Nothing illustrates better the ecumenical nature of casuistry than argu-
ments about the limitations of obedience. To be sure, what is called
Catholic resistance theory required the sanction of papal authority, and
within Catholicism there were disputes about whether papal power was
direct or indirect, spiritual or partially temporal. Such questions left
English Jesuits horribly exposed from the last years of Elizabeth’s reign.
But despite the absence of pontifical authority for Protestants, casuistic
justifications were interdenominational. William Barclay’s coinage mon-
archomachi, king killers, applied to the implications of the arguments of
Huguenots and Catholic Leaguers alike.18 David Owen referred to an evil
concord of ‘puritan-Jesuitisme’; James VI&I called Jesuits ‘puritan
papists’.19 Gradually from an intellectual consanguinity grew a
mythic rebellious and regicidal alliance. Owen’s puritan lineage includes
Goodman, Knox and Buchanan, Marsilius of Padua and the ‘lewd learn-
ing’ of pagan antiquity.20 So in writing for a Protestant audience Hunton
had the challenging task of distancing himself from Jesuit contamin-
ation.21 It was no easy matter when the Civil Wars were already pulling
on their marching boots. After the dust had mostly settled during the
Restoration, the accusations about a puritan–Jesuit conspiracy gained
polemical momentum, especially for a very royalist Church of England,
a proclaimed via media between these hated extremes. For a while, the
church even created the illusion that principled obedience could be
immune from casuistic exception (see below, chapter 15).
The strength of Owen’s case had lain in his recognising the largely
common casuistry derived from shared presuppositions of office rather
than upon nosing out any genuine plot. The unwillingness to explore
what casuistry might sanction in emergency, arose from an equally ecu-
menical awareness of how difficult it would be to control the conse-
quences. Accepting extraordinary remedies risked normalising them and

Shakespeare, 2Henry IV 1. 1.
J. H. M. Salmon, ‘Catholic Resistance Theory, Ultramontanism and the Royalist
Response, 1580–1620’, in J. H. Burns, ed. (assisted by Mark Goldie), The Cambridge
History of Political Thought, 1450–1700 (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 219–53, esp. 235.
Owen, Herode, pp. 36–43, 47ff; James VI&I, Premonition, in Workes, p. 305.
20 21
Owen, Herode, pp. 47, 45, 44. Hunton, Treatise, pp. 54–5.
190 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
encouraged accusations of wanting to do so. Argument from implication
was one of the first resorts of polemic.22

In an unstable world, however, total acceptance of a principle of subordin-
ation was difficult to sustain. Unqualified obedience was, theologically,
owed only to God; therefore all human obligations had some limit.23 This
rabbit was always in the hat as it passed around divided Christendom. The
solution to its lurking presence lay in equating some privileged patterns of
human subordination effectively with obedience to God. Nevertheless,
there remained circumstances when even the most acquiescent might need
occasional recourse to a casuistry of non-compliance.
In its presumptive form, this casuistry pleaded that the virtue of sub-
mission to immediate authority had been misunderstood. This form of
argument is common to political documents that are denominationally
poles apart. For the Marian exile Christopher Goodman, as tyrants are
an affront to God, accepting them is complicity with Antichrist. It is
therefore not rebellion but a doctrine of Godly peace that demands of
everyman the eradication of tyranny, a topic to which I will return
below.24 Goodman’s casuistry was taken over in William Allen’s incite-
ment to rise up against Elizabeth I. It is she, Allen declaims, who has
rebelled against God’s laws, and a proper understanding of submission
requires her removal. Catholic resistance is obedience to true religion,
quite unlike heretical rebellion.25 Thomas Bilson and Andrew Willett
would shortly concur. True religion was indeed obeyed by disobeying
the false; they simply tipped the pope from the content of the truth and
poured him into the bucket of iniquity.26 Leonard Wright was adamant
that even the tyrannical must be obeyed: except (he notes parenthe-
tically) in matters contrary to faith and salvation.27 True obedience can

Cooper, Fear and Polemic, pp. 5–7.
Theodore Beza (?), Du droit des magistrats (1573), ed. R. M. Kingdon (Geneva, 1971);
Hunton, Treatise, pp. 8–9. The importance of this limit was underlined by the Israelites’
flirtation with theocratic monarchy, with the kings after David obscuring the place of
God in the minds of his people. It would be a powerful theme in post-Civil War England.
Ponet, Shorte Treatise, pp. 33, 50, 98ff; Christopher Goodman, How Superiours oght to
be Obeyd of their Subjects (1558), pp. 9, 62, 191.
Salmon, ‘Catholic Resistance Theory’, p. 242; Allen, An Admonition; the title seems to
allude to Ponet’s peroration, ‘An exortacion or rather warning to the Lordes and
Commones of Englande’, in Shorte Treatise, p. 147.
Thomas Bilson, The True Difference between Christian Subjection and Unchristian
Rebellion (Oxford, 1585); Willett, Harmonie on the First Booke of Samuel, pp. 293–5.
Wright, Display of Duty, fols. 6v–7r.
The case of resistance to superior power 191
be disobedience, tyranny can really be rebellion. In the wake of the
Gunpowder Plot, Owen found all such arguments anathema. Endorsing
the sort of high monarchical claims that had James VI&I whistling in
the Scottish winds, Owen insisted that God made the monarch and the
rest as subjects owed obedience, full stop. Any qualification invited an-
archy. Such views were current throughout the seventeenth century.
With faith in an office of rule, they offered nothing more complex than
a subject persona whose duty is to obey the office itself. The general
language being shared, what divides writers is who is classified as
what, creating oppositional doctrines from the same resources and pat-
terns of presupposition. As I shall show, they had unexpected doctrinal re-
formulation in the Engagement and oath of allegiance controversies of
1649–50 and 1689–90 respectively (chapters 14, 15). What can be called the
Marian question – who is really guilty of rebellion – retains its contested
vibrancy into the eighteenth century. The true rebels, insisted Defoe, were
those who introduced the novel doctrines of jure divino rule before the
Civil Wars, and those who in reactivating them caused the Revolution of
In casuistry’s more modal manifestations, there is not just a higher but
a somewhat different duty that could be invoked to deflect accusations
of rebellion. As I have argued, the claimed offices of patriot and counsel-
lor could have this protective function. Such forms of redescription had
been a feature of argument during the turbulent years of Angevin kingship
and became a striking aspect of apologetics during the French Wars of
Religion.29 They later cohered the debates between Charles I and his
parliaments in 1629 and from 1640 to 1642. Through counsel it was
possible to draw on the Bractonian and Seysselian metaphors of the
counselling persona as ‘bridling’ the ruler through advice. There emerged,
however, other variations on this theme.

From the sixteenth century, insistence on the corrective duties of lesser
magistrates provided defence against accusations of rebellion. It was,
initially, a less ambiguous claim on the office of rule than counsel allowed.
Calvin saw the Spartan Ephors as a lesser magistracy constraining the
Spartan kings, and exemplifying the necessity that all office under God be

Defoe, Jure Divino, see De Luna, ‘Jure Divino’, pp. 43–66.
Jolliffe, Angevin Kingship, ch. 1; Salmon, ‘Catholic Resistance Theory’, at length.
192 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
limited.30 Beza and Althusius presented more sustained arguments. Al-
though private men might be at most passively disobedient, the lesser
magistracy had a duty of resistance when the office of rule was abused.
Lesser magistrates were plausibly identified in France, and especially in
an imperial context where such figures were armed independent princes
with diplomatic and legal standing.31 Adjustments, however, were needed
for lesser magistracy to be seen as directly relevant to England; once made,
an initially precise and exclusive office became highly accommodating.
Protestant civic hostility to imperial Catholicism, most notably in the
Magdeburg Confession of 1550, extended lesser magistracy to include
elected city officials, which thus became particularly helpful in a polity
with London at its centre. The Marian exiles stretched lesser magistracy
by urging the duty to protect true religion. Peter Martyr feared that
this would allow the wicked to ‘doe violence unto godly Princes: and so
should nothing be left holy and unviolated’. Notwithstanding, he insis-
ted that inferior magistrates should act whenever princes ‘transgresse the
endes and limites’ of their power.32 As precedents, he cited both the
German imperial Electors and the senate and people of Rome. The asso-
ciations between Rome and London need not be laboured further, but
the allusion to Rome left the door ajar for a very humble lesser magis-
trate. Within a generation, Anthony Gilby warned that if magistrates
neglected their duties, men like the one-legged Miles Monopodios, soldier,
that is an officer of Christ, would act in their stead.33
By the Civil War period, references to lesser magistracy were common
in England. Predictably for Peter Heylyn, they amounted to rebellion,
anything but for John Goodwin. He was succinct and inclusive: ‘the
procurement of the publique good, doth not lie by way of Office, or duty,
upon the chiefe Magistrate only, but upon all subordinate Magistrates
also, and Officers whatsoever’.34 In 1649 ‘Philodemius’ endorsed this in a
way that points again to the most extensive scope of office. The efficient

Jean Calvin, Institutes, discussed with an acidic accuracy in Harro Hopfl, The Christian
Polity of John Calvin (Cambridge, 1982), pp. 171–2.
Robert von Friedeburg, ‘Self Defence and Sovereignty. The Reception and Application
of German Political Thought in England and Scotland, 1628–1669’, History of Political
Thought, 23 (2002), pp. 238–65; Kathleen Parrow, From Defense To Resistance:
Justification of Violence during the French Wars of Religion, Transactions of the
American Philosophical Society, vol. LXXXIII, pt. 6 (Philadelphia, 1993), pp. 38–42.
Goodman, Superiours, pp. 43–4; Peter Martyr Vermigli, Political Thought, p. 11.
Anthony Gilby, A Pleasaunt Dialogue Between A Soldier of Berwicke and an English
Chaplaine (1581), pp. A2–B4.
Heylyn, Rebel’s Catechism, p. 15; John Goodwin, Right and Might well Mett (1648) in
Malcolm, The Struggle for Sovereignty, vol. I, pp. 317, 316.
The case of resistance to superior power 193
cause, or womb of all political power is the people, that is, any ‘person
whatsoever’, whether their professions and callings be honourable or ‘base
and extreme’.35 A people as such, however, needs lesser magistrates to act
for it. That every person had some kind of office made it easy for the
corrective powers of the lesser magistrate to include the army. In the 1640s
Miles Monopodios was on the march, or rather hop, and the execution of
Charles was an exercise of magesterial office.
Here it must be reiterated that, as with the related motif of patriotism,
there was no straightforward democratic trajectory, with the doctrine of
the lesser magistrate in the Reformation leading to Locke’s, or more
individualistic insistence on the people’s right to resist. The Marian
exiles, confronting the most exceptional of circumstances had been wil-
ling to give everyman an ad hoc official status in the accommodating
names of religion, love of country and hatred of Queen Mary. There
was, however, little more than a sporadic casuistic application of the
randomly applicable theological axiom that every man has an office:36
sporadic because so potentially disruptive. Moreover, the point of this
theological axiom was often more directed at the powerful who might
place themselves above office than at the lowly who had been denied
it. Designation in terms of office acknowledged accountability for the
onerous exercise of liberty.
During the Civil Wars the Earl of Essex, who by accepting parliamen-
tarian command was particularly exposed to accusations of rebellion,
acted under a local and very exclusive adaptation of lesser magistracy: to
wit, the medieval office (vacant since 1521) of High Constable, whose
responsibility was to keep the monarch to the terms of the coronation
oath.37 His sheltering under this illustrates the easy flow between dis-
tinguishable rhetorics of conciliar control, baronial bridling and lesser
magistracy and, more generally, that wherever there was an office there
was a rhetoric of its defence. As the soul itself could be depicted as in
a relationship of office to God, defence of this could be the rock upon
which any might stand. We come, then, to the polar opposite of resistance
as rebellion, to resistance as really self-defence.38

‘Philodemius’, Original and End of Civil Power, ‘To the Reader’; see also John
Milton, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649), in Complete Prose Works, vol. III,
pp. 190–258.
Anon., in Excess of Aparel, in Certain Sermons, p. 194.
Smith, Constitutional Royalism, p. 191; see below, chapter 12.
Hunton, Treatise, pp. 8–9; von Friedeburg, ‘Self Defence and Sovereignty’, pp. 238–65;
Condren, ‘Liberty of Office’, at length.
194 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
For some, self-defence was a universal right of nature, stemming less from
the gnash of fleshly and fishy teeth, than the axiom that God’s creatures
had no right of self-destruction.39 In practice, defence sanctioned by the
laws of nature and under a Christian dispensation were apt to blur, for it
was the latter that really mattered.40
The result was something much more than a purely individualistic right
of self-defence. Because the self was largely anaphoric for a persona,
defence could also be an expression of the meta-duty to the relevant office,
and this in turn involved the protection of those seen under its aegis.41
The self could be the group in office defending law or religion, the
shepherd guarding sheep, the mother killing for her child. Even as a naked
soul, the self was a locus of responsibility. If such extensive notions of
defence provided a powerful counter to the accusation of rebellion, they
were difficult to disentangle from revenge and feuding. At law, the scope
of defensive homicide was reasonably clear where it was limited to pre-
vious action. In broader contexts, however, analogies from legally justifi-
able defence, against highwaymen, footpads and ravishers in dark alleys,
were more tricky.42
In sixteenth-century France, for example, the notion of the self had
been limited by the extent of the persona of the office deemed threatened.
Self-defence required the perception of a genuine and immediate threat,
whereas feud and revenge could be dishes eaten cold. Because the dis-
tinctions could be difficult to apply, the royal persona was extended
through the fiction of cas royaux: whatsoever touched the crown must
be defended by the crown, and theoretically this took revenge away
from injured parties. In Germany Philipp Melanchthon also saw revenge
as a function of magistracy, separating it from the self-defence allowed
by the law of nature.43 In England, this was affirmed by Peter Martyr.
‘We ought to knowe, that God will revenge our injuries, and that we must
not take upon us his office. But God will declare his wrath, either by
himselfe, or by the Magistrate.’44 Given Peter Martyr’s extensive notion of

William Ames, Conscience, pp. 186–7; Browne, Religio Medici, pp. 73–5.
Rutherford, Lex, Rex, Q.31; Tully, A Discourse on Property, e.g. pp. 22–4, 36–40; Milton,
Tenure, argues from principles of nature and birthright distinct from theological duty, see
Rahe, ‘The Classical Republicanism of John Milton’, pp. 250–1.
Von Friedeburg, Self-Defence, at length.
Ascham, Confusions, p. 49.
Parrow, From Defense to Resistance, pp. 16–21; Philipp Melanchthon, Loci theologici
(1535, 1543); see von Friedeburg, Self-Defence, pp. 58–61.
Peter Martyr Vermigli, ‘De Bello’, in Political Thought, p. 77; Wolfgang Musculus, Loci
communes, trans. John Man as The Commonplaces of Christian Religion (1578), pp. 1332–3.
The case of resistance to superior power 195
the lesser magistrate’s duties to control the ruler’s wrath, his scattered
remarks might seem contradictory, but revenge is not defence. Never-
theless, in practice, the problems separating revenge from defence per-
sisted. The aristocrat’s persona stretched to name and lineage, and
defence of this could easily look like revenge and feud; and so in the
mid-seventeenth century Anthony Ascham found it necessary to condemn
what he prejudicially defined as ‘an insolent delight in the sufferings
or paines of another, whom we judge to have injured us’.45 If defence
was necessary for order, revenge was inimical to it; the basic point was
as old as Aeschylus.
Defensive acts also, like revenge, were definitionally reactive; it was thus
alleged or implied interference that activated the casuistry. But if fear of
wrong was intense, defence could be anticipatory. As Grotius was
abridged, ‘he which prepares to do me injury gives me a right against
himself ad infinitum’.46 The care of office was never a momentary thing.
The response to rumours of Irish invasion around the outbreak of the
British Civil Wars was to make defence talk both inclusive and anticipa-
tory. It was a heady combination. When the Civil Wars broke out in
England, parliament claimed to be involved in a form of self-defence
which was readily decoded, or expanded, to mean a defence of the office
of parliament, the laws of the realm, the Reformation and even the
office of the king against the man – that man of blood and private person,
Charles. Henry Parker’s writings are pretty systematic evidence for this
response to alleged abuses of office. That parliament might be acting
illegally weighed little in Parker’s scales of justice.47 His consistent re-
sponse was a hallmark of casuistic argument: it is the scope of the law that
must be considered more than the minutiae of action. The question
was what maintains the safety of the people, because it is for this that
government exists.
The fear of future threat also allowed a supplementary casuistry;
for true religion’s sake, a neighbouring prince might intervene, as Philip
II attempted in 1588, as William of Orange would one hundred years
later. The casuistic line between rebellion, defence, open war,
invasion and intervention was uncertain. When the Bracton text had
referred to an appeal to Heaven if a people should be desperately op-
pressed, it was clear that they should pray for intervention from

Ascham, Confusions, p. 190.
Mack, Elizabethan Rhetoric, pp. 190–1, on Cecil’s defensive aggression to Scotland in
1559; Sampson, ‘Liberty and Laxity’, p. 95.
Mendle, Henry Parker, p. 93.
196 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
somewhere distant.48 Similarly, Peter Martyr wrote that ‘[Because] powers
be of God, tyrannie must be abbiden.’ For the righteous, appeal is ‘onelie
unto the tribunall seate of GOD’.49 But an appeal to Heaven in the
seventeenth century could well mean a recourse to arms: let God judge
on the battlefield as he would – ‘Providence’ as the New Model Army
proclaimed in defensive battle array.
‘Rebellion!’ was the conventional reply. As Henry Sacheverell insisted
in the notorious sermon that would lead to his trial in 1710, self-defence
was used to avoid calling ‘Rebellion by its Proper Name’.50 And the easy
accusation of rebellion explains the unwillingness of people to admit that
resistance had taken place; it was asking for trouble.51 Henry Sacheverell’s
relentless equation of resistance with rebellion, and therefore his denial
that the Revolution of 1688–9 had been an act of resistance, is a tribute to
the power of this rhetorical synonymity. When Benjamin Hoadly re-
sponded by defending the Revolution in Hunton’s terms as justifiable
defence, there was, remarked an incredulous Burnet, ‘a great outcry . . .
as if he had preached up rebellion’.52 But, on all sides, the response to the
question rebellion or defence, was the creak of jerking knees. This made it
difficult to sustain understandings of social disruption independent of
conversion into either extreme. The proposition that government had
dissolved is the prime example.
The dissolution of government for whatever reason was recognised as
a fact of life. For Hunton, Hobbes and Lawson dissolution was defini-
tionally the absence of sovereignty.53 Therefore, according to Lawson, if
a government dissolves, all predicates of sovereignty, such as resistance
and rebellion, dissolve with it; Hobbes would have concurred.54 Yet, by
the end of the century, this alternative description also becomes drag-
ged into the orbit of rebellion (below, chapter 15). Similarly, if rebellion
was taken to encompass all resistance, Hunton’s negative as well as
positive, crafting an alternative description to either for action in the

Henry de Bracton, De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae, ed. G. E. Woodbine and S. E.
Thorne (Cambridge, Mass., 1968–77), vol. II, pp. 109–10; more generally on the
Bractonian text, see Cary J. Nederman, ‘The Royal Will and the Baronial Bridle: The
Place of the addicio de cartis in Bractonian Political Thought’, History of Political
Thought, 9 (1988), pp. 419–29.
Peter Martyr Vermigli, Political Thought, p. 108.
Sacheverell, Perils of False Brethren, p. 22; see also Heylyn, Rebels Catechism; William
Sherlock, The Case of Resistance to Supreme Powers (1684), pp. 186–96, 203–6.
Russell, The Causes, pp. 22–4, 132–4; Mark Goldie, ‘The Revolution of 1689 and the
Structure of Political Argument’, Bulletin of Research in the Humanities, 83 (1980), p. 489.
Burnet, History, vol. V, p. 424.
Hunton, Treatise, p. 67; for Lawson’s dissolution theory see Conal Condren, George
Lawson’s ‘Politica’ and the English Revolution (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 128–9, 153–68.
Lawson, Politica, pp. 229–33.
The case of resistance to superior power 197
name of true religion was no easy task. William Sherlock put forward
‘non-assistance’, with assurances that ‘this is no rebellion, no resistance’.55
It was probably difficult for most to grasp how non-assistance was not a
species of disobedience, or another ‘softer’ name for negative resistance.
Through a domino effect, by which one description after another is
stained by the associations each was initially developed to avoid, ex-
pressions like dissolution and non-assistance were taken to be semantic
ruses for avoiding the word that, according to Sacheverell, the guilty
would not own.
Ownership appears acknowledged only during the eighteenth century;
as the taint of rebellion faded, the need for alternatives abated. There is
a hint of this in Hume’s essay ‘Of Passive Obedience’ where he refers to
the just provocation of rebellion, but the change is sustained in a Stephen
Case (?) sermon. The author confirms that ‘rebellion is a damnable sin
except where the word is taken in a lax sense’; this he proceeds to do. There
can be ‘a good rebellion and a clear duty’, as with the American rising:
a firm example of an armed defence. The criterion for distinguishing
good from bad lies in whether the rising is against ‘lawful authority’ or
against tyrants, making it a lawful rebellion.56 The sanctity of office
and the horrors of its abuse continue to provide the crucial dividing line;
but, in placing the word rebellion on either side of it, the semantic order
of the language begins to change, and the conditions are established for
the modern roughly neutral synonymity of resistance and rebellion.
In sum, the ingenuity of arguments gathering around counsel, lesser
magistracy or defence were not put forward to justify rebellion; to think in
these terms endorses a denunciation, or mistakes an anodyne idiom of
modernity for something very different. Either way, we hardly grasp what
was going on. Such arguments were casuistic responses to the power of an
accusation, and I want now to turn to the prior, or anticipated deviance
from office that prompted them.

Rebellion generated four basic counter-accusations: illicit acquisition, neg-
lect or alienation, over-assiduous exercise of office, and outright tyranny.
First was the claim that ab initio irregularity in the assumption of office

Sherlock, Case of Allegiance due to Sovereign Powers, p. 50; see Mark Goldie, ‘The
Political Thought of the Anglican Revolution’, in Robert Beddard, ed., The Revolutions
of 1688 (Oxford, 1991), pp. 116–17.
David Hume, ‘Of Passive Obedience’ (1748), in Political Essays (1777), ed. Knud
Haakonssen (Cambridge, 1994), p. 204; Stephen Case (?), Defensive Arms Vindicated
(1783), in Sandoz, Political Sermons, p. 722.
198 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
resulted in an incapacity to exercise authority. From the fourteenth
century distinctions had been drawn between tyranny of acquisition
and conduct.57 It was accepted from St Augustine and from Roman
mythology that most polities were likely to have originated in wolfish
violence. Time might render bloody foundation irrelevant, but this was
no help in the immediate aftermath when it could be argued that there
was sufficient office-abuse to warrant disobedience to rulers without
title. As Peter Martyr remarked, though ‘it be lawfull to resist Tirantes
which assaile a Kingdome, yet when they have obtained the same and
doe beare rule, it seemeth not to belong unto private men to put them
downe’. As he elsewhere insisted, using the case of Jehoiada, the issue
was whether the action came from office. Jehoiada confronted tyranny
not as a private man but as a high priest.58 The argument from incapacity
could also apply to irregularities of election and natural frailty. John
Knox and Christopher Goodman argued that because women were unfit
for rule Queen Mary could not have authority. With a woman of the right
religion the argument required adjustment.
Second, an office might be neglected or alienated: these were technically
different but can be outlined together. John Ponet ominously warned that
neglect of office had brought about God’s intervention in Sodom and
Gomorrah. In running from his calling, as Willett had it, King David
was tarred with the brush of neglect. Charles II defeated after Worcester,
Richard Cromwell abandoning the protectorate, might similarly have
been condemned, much as Mr Hobbes senior was in running from his
cure and dying excommunicate beyond London.59 In extremis neglect
or alienation could lead to the argument that action was not against
authority; for by neglecting office or alienating it to another, a ruler
ceased in its persona, becoming a ‘private’ person, or a pillar of salt, an
entirely conventional process of ethical redescription.60 Such was the
strength of nominal definitions of rule that even those, like Thomas
Bilson most stalwart in defending absolute authority, might add a qualifi-
cation in the case of alienation. Subjects are not rebels if a monarch
has ceased to be by alienating the kingdom. Because of his impeccable

Bartolus of Sassoferrato, Tractatus de tyrannia (c. 1356), in E. Emerton, ed., Humanism
and Tyranny (Gloucester, Mass., 1964), ch. 5, p. 132; Coluccio Salutati, De tyranno
(1400), Humanism and Tyranny, ch. 1, p. 78.
Peter Martyr Vermigli, Political Thought, pp. 100–2, reiterated by Michael Hawke,
Killing is Murder (1658), p. 40.
Ponet, Shorte Treatise, p. 51; Willett, Harmonie on the First Booke of Samuel, p. 303;
Aubrey, ‘Thomas Hobbes’, in Brief Lives, p. 227.
See, for example, the Tractates Eboracenses, and the discussion by McIlwain, in The
Growth of Political Thought, pp. 211ff; John of Salisbury, Policraticus, ch. 17, pp. 190–2.
The case of resistance to superior power 199
orthodoxy, Bilson’s name would almost amount to a proof text during the
Civil Wars.61 This line of argument, used against the papacy in the
fourteenth century, and against James VI&I in the seventeenth, remained
highly serviceable in 1689–90 (see below, chapter 15). For vociferous
nonconformists like Richard Baxter and John Humfrey, owing obedience
to a monarch who could be succeeded by a Catholic made alienation a
crucial concept, and Bilson’s authority was valuable protection. Humfrey
worried that King John had already set the precedent for alienation, and
Baxter drew the line of true Christian subjection before being eaten by the
‘Romish Wolf’.62 Obedience is due to office only insofar as it operates
within its sphere. Neglect or alienation were potent accusations, because
they paraded respect for the office itself. In the late eighteenth century,
the same moves are still being made. William Barclay’s De regno (1600)
is quoted with some glee by Stephen Case (?): ‘if a king will alienate,
and subject his kingdom’, it ‘is actually lost, and the people may not only
lawfully resist, but also depose him’.63
Third, there was over-assiduous exercise of the office. In law most
felonies were potentially capital offences, but a judge who routinely
hanged the guilty would have a severely damaged reputation. This was
the form of tyranny that Antonio’s rule took in Measure for Measure; it
was the legal tyranny Charles I explicitly warned his son against, by way of
affirming his own innocence of the crime.64 In this accusation of office-
abuse, there was a casuistic understanding of the under-determination
of principles, an affirmation of the importance of judgement and dis-
cretion as virtues necessary to the exercise of responsibility. It worried
the very people most likely to rely on casuistries of defence against
what they were apt to call arbitrary power and tyranny.
Fourth, there was rebellion’s doppelganger tyranny. This was the over-
extension of office: simultaneously it damaged the office from which the
tyrant acted, adjacent offices and their personae. The tyrant existed in
the shadow of the Thracian shepherd Gyges. This accusation echoed with
the authority of antiquity and activated the rhetorics of bridling and
counsel as preventatives and self-defence as office defence in its
most obvious forms, deposition and tyrannicide.65 John of Salisbury’s

Bilson, Christian Subjection; See William Lamont, ‘The Rise and Fall of Bishop Bilson’,
Journal of British Studies, 5, 2 (1966), pp. 22–32.
Lamont, Richard Baxter, pp. 98–9.
Case, Defensive Arms, p. 731, citing Grotius, De jure, 1.4; cf. Cumberland, De legibus
naturae, 9.6; trans. John Maxwell as A Treatise of the Laws of Nature (1727), p. 351, where
sovereigns ‘destroy themselves’ by opposing what is necessary for the common good.
Charles I, Eikon Basilike, p. 239.
Plato, Republic, 359D–360B; Hotman, Francogallia, pp. 138–9.
200 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
Policraticus certainly canvasses the possibility of tyrannicide in a way that
makes it clear how tyrants were the real rebels. If the ruler is a shepherd
and the image of God, the tyrant is the image of the first rebel, Satan.
There is no automatic injunction to act, as the imagery might imply,
and John qualifies his position in ways that Salutati would certainly find
unsatisfactory.66 In the face of powerful monarchs like the Angevins,
there was a two-stage defence against high-handed conduct rather than
an immediate escalation to cosmic warfare. The monarch might be ac-
cused of erratic wilfulness (actus per voluntatem) and therefore be in need
of an encouraging bridle, or if he persisted, be held to account for
systematic tyranny and threatened with deposition, or tyrannicide.67
Deposition did not necessarily mean tyrannicide. Rehoboam (1 Kings)
stood as the image of a tyrant who could be deposed without being
killed, and throughout the early modern period there were those who,
although accepting tyranny as a horrid reality, nevertheless refused to
countenance violent action. Wolfgang Musculus, echoing John of
Salisbury’s analogies between God and rule, Satan and tyranny, and his
reluctance to develop an unequivocal commitment to tyrannicide washed
his hands of moral judgement. In circumstances so beyond normality,
there could be no moral legislation.68 Others balked at tyrannicide
by combining arguments from consequence and principle: the possibilities
of immediate confusion and destabilising precedent were unacceptable;
subject status itself was a moral prohibition reinforced by oaths of alle-
giance. It was usually possible to say with Leonard Wright, cited above,
that even tyrants should be obeyed when commanding what lay within
the law, which was at once to express obedience to the law and bracket
the problem of action against tyranny. Overall, the fears for the con-
sequences of instability made calls for tyrannicide less common than
accusations that disobedience would lead to such violence.
There were nevertheless considered arguments that offered destruction
of country and true religion as prospective criteria for tyrannicide. Such
abuse of office made the tyrant an enemy against whom defence is a right
of nature.69 Here we confront the full force of the well-worn formulas

John of Salisbury, Policraticus, bk. 8, cf. chs. 17, 18; Salutati, De tyranno, p. 90.
Jolliffe, Angevin Kingship, pp. 4–5.
Musculus, Commonplaces, cf. pp. 1283–5, 1265 with 1340.
Ponet, Shorte Treatise, pp. 98ff; see also pp. 11, 34, 161; George Buchanan, De jure regni
apud Scotos (Edinburgh, 1579); Johann Gerhard, Loci theologici, 560–1, quoted in von
Friedeburg, Self-Defence, p. 130; John Cook, King Charls His Case (1649), pp. 21–3, on
whom see Glenn Burgess, ‘The Execution of Charles I and English Political Thought’, in
von Friedeburg, Murder and Monarchy, pp. 223–9; the right could be a duty: see, for
The case of resistance to superior power 201
of nominal identity.70 To become a tyrant, summarised Rutherford, is to
cease to be a king. ‘If the office of the tyrant (so to speak) be contrary to
the king’s offices, it is not from God, and so neither is the power from
As with incapacity and alienation, the obloquy of tyranny separated
office from office-holder by redescribing a moral entity. This transmogrifi-
cation into the private was the shared ground on which the topoi of
defence and restitution of office could be run together. For writers like
Buchanan and Rutherford, the polemical edge is sharp enough, but we
find the same structure of argument with Philip Hunton and the compliant
Jeremy Taylor. If a prince abides by the law, wrote Taylor, he can never be
a private person, for private men have no power of punishment.72 The
notions of ruler and ruled are ‘relatives’, Hunton argued, so that if a ruler
goes beyond his authority he becomes a private person, his act one of
private violence. ‘No power can challenge obedience beyond its own
measure; for if it might, we should destroy all Rules and differences of
Government, and make all absolute and at pleasure.’73 The ring of office
becomes the ring of Gyges.
This will now sound familiar enough but it was, nevertheless, always a
delicate issue, for identities contingent upon office were rhetorically un-
stable. Andrew Willett, like Peter Martyr, insisted that only a public office
gave warrant for dealing with a tyrant. Yet, Willett continues, if a private
man is stirred by an extraordinary spirit, he thereby assumes an ‘extraor-
dinary vocation’; dealing with the tyrant makes him a public governor.74
The fluidity of such nominal identities could result in a conditional obedi-
ence even to the most absolute of monarchs. Equally, they made a stable
criterion for tyrannicide difficult to sustain, offering mainly a bridge of
polemical flexibility across confessional divides. Suarez would urge the
same point about the transformation of a private persona into a public
agent when killing a tyrant. The king Willett treated with kid gloves was
the tyrant Suarez had in mind.75

example, Cato’s Letters, vol. II, letter 68, p. 414, summarising widespread sentiments; see
Sullivan, Machiavelli, Hobbes, pp. 236–7.
Tractates Eboracenses (c. 1170), discussed in McIlwain, The Growth of Political Thought,
p. 213; Bartolus, Tractatus de tyrannia, ch. 2, p. 127; on the Leges, see Greenberg, The
Radical Face, pp. 62 ff.
Cf. Rutherford, Lex Rex, Q.24; John of Salisbury, Policraticus, bk. 8, chs. 17, 18.
Taylor, Ductor dubitantium, pp. 111, 107; Hawke, Killing is Murder, p. 40.
Hunton, Treatise, pp. 1, 15, 54–5, 27.
Willett, Harmonie on the First Booke of Samuel, p. 294; cf. Peter Martyr Vermigli, in
Political Writings, pp. 100, 101–2; the argument would be repeated in Anon., Conscience
Puzzl’d (1650), in Malcolm, The Struggle for Sovereignty, vol. I, p. 440.
Francisco de Suarez, Defensio fidei Catholicae et apostolicae (Coimbra, 1613), 4.4.14 (see
below, chapter 13).
202 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
During the Civil Wars, arguments from tyranny surfaced only sporad-
ically and late in the proceedings and, according to John Morrill, it
was Charles who first made capital out of the accusation.76 If so, it was
a superficially safe escalation of verbal hostilities, for the tyranny of
parliament did not carry an obvious injunction to tyrannicide. But the
issue is not that clear-cut. Charles may have been responding to an in-
sinuated accusation. To ‘marry the power or Office of a Prince to his
will’ wrote Henry Parker (?), is unacceptable because the will indiscrimin-
ately includes the good and the bad. What is good about the prince’s
will ‘makes him a king’, what is bad ‘makes him a bloody tyrant’.77 This
is pretty close to name-calling. Again, Charles’s own accusations may
have been reacting to parliament’s early indirect warnings about tyran-
nous conduct. It sponsored a translation of Buchanan’s Baptistes (1579),
a play about Herod’s descent into tyranny on the evil counsel of women.
A copy of this allegorical accusation against Charles and his queen
was presented to him, a gift that would have been difficult to reject,
awkward to refute and impossible to stomach.78 When the deposition
and then execution of Charles became clear possibilities, the question of
the monarch as persona was central to the separation of Charles I from
Charles Stuart. Charles Herle, like Hunton, specifically replying to Ferne’s
equation of defensive resistance with rebellion and murder, had argued
earlier that parliament may defend ‘King, Lawes, and Government’ even
against ‘the King’s personall Command’. Six years later, others justified
Charles’s execution as tyrannicide; abuse of office had brought about
the necessity. Charles is designated an officer with dogged repetition and
the very notion of an unaccountable officer is dismissed as ‘a strange
Beyond the protection of office lay the perversions and shadows of
Satan, his witches and Antichrist. At the least tyranny was ‘monstrous
and unnatural’.80 In Milton’s attacks on Charles, then on Satan in
Paradise Lost, depictions of tyranny are taken to the most dramatic

J. S. Morrill, ‘Charles I and Tyranny’, in The Nature of the English Revolution (London,
1996), pp. 293–6.
Anon. (Henry Parker?), The Observator Defended (1642), p. 9.
George Buchanan, Tyrannical Government Anatomized (1642); see Conal Condren, ‘The
Office of Rule and the Rhetorics of Tyrannicide’, in von Friedeburg, Murder and
Monarchy, pp. 63–5.
Charles Herle, A Fuller Answer to a Treatise (1642), in Malcolm, The Struggle for
Sovereignty, vol. I, pp. 226–7; The Declaration of the Parliament of England (1648), in
ibid., vol. I, pp. 372, 379; see also Cook, King Charls His Case, pp. 20–3, and Monarchy
No Creature of Gods Making (Waterford, 1651) discussed in Burgess, ‘The Execution of
Charles I’, pp. 223–9.
Hunton, Treatise, p. 9.
The case of resistance to superior power 203
extreme.81 Both Charles and Satan are fiends in beguiling shape, each
claims divine right, each is a rebel, enslaved as he destroys. This is all
ultimately in the Platonic idiom: the overreaching inversion of the just
man, the victim of his own lust, and the invisible ring-wearer, transformed
and implicated in any manifestation of evil. This is not paranoia, it is
metaphysics. Milton’s tautology, discussed in chapter 4, that the tyrant is
enslaved by abusing the liberty of others, is central also to Edward Sexby’s
promise to treat Cromwell to tyrannicide, so making him genuinely sig-
nificant.82 Only with the Protector’s death will liberty be restored, the
Reformation furthered and justice cease to be the Thrasymachian sort.
The verbal shape-shifting of the tyrant through radical paradiastole is
complete in Sexby’s work. Tyrants are like beasts of prey that may be
destroyed on sight.83 Thereafter, however, the simile contracts into meta-
phor: the tyrant is made of the skin of the lion, the tail of the fox; he is an
ulcer, a disease, a wild beast, a viper and a devil to be exorcised.84
Lurid, yes, but Sexby’s justification for tyrannicide pivots on
the same kind of nominal transformation outlined by Goodman and
Willett – a private man becomes public by acting against tyranny. The
tyrant converts the commonwealth into a condition of slavery; it loses its
name because the tyrant destroys the end for which men enter society.85
Everyman thus assumes the office of a soldier. The high priest Jehoida,
whose tyrannicidal actions Peter Martyr had justified, becomes a model
for all. Tyranny makes everyman his own magistrate.86 Michael Hawke’s
riposte to the ‘Jesuit’ Sexby is just as revealing. All government origin-
ates from God through force; it is only tyranny of exercise that matters.
Unlike Sexby, Hawke had a precise and more literal understanding of
the marks of tyranny, a dozen or so kinds of action forming a fine mesh
of criteria through which the Protector could not fall into a pit of privacy.
Concomitantly, he refuses to countenance the transformation of the pri-
vate man into the officer, the soldier, armed priest or magistrate. It is
nothing more than the creation of that unthinkable natural condition
against which Hobbes and Cicero warn.87
Joan Bennett, Reviving Liberty, ch. 2.
John Milton, A Defence, in Complete Prose Works, vol. IV, p. 310; The Second Defence,
in Complete Prose Works, vol. IV, p. 373; see Bennett, Reviving Liberty, p. 50; Edward
Sexby, Killing No Murder (1657, 1689 edn).
Sexby, Killing No Murder, Dedicatory Letter, p. 3.
Ibid., pp. 5, 10, 24; see also Abraham Nelson, A Perfect Description of Antichrist (1644?
1660), dedicated to Charles as a precise description of Cromwell.
Goodman, Superiours, pp. 76–7; Willett, Harmonie on the First Booke of Samuel, pp. 294;
Sexby, Killing No Murder, pp. 10, 9.
Sexby, Killing No Murder, pp. 13, 11.
Hawke, Killing is Murder, pp. 18, 26, 40, 7. Hawke may have believed Sexby was a Jesuit,
but the naming might have been discreditation.
204 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
The four distinct denunciations of office-abuse could be run into an
integrated indictment designed to erase or re-direct the notion of rebellion.
Thus John Goodwin: when a ship’s pilot is rendered useless and is ‘un-
capable of acting the exigencies of his place’ any one or more of the
‘inferiour Mariners, having skill, may in order to the saving of the Ship,
and of the lives of all that are in it’ take over.88 By their actions rulers
might cease to be, becoming frenzied or drunken tyrants, private men,
beasts, vipers and ulcers and thus exposed to actions exempt from the
accusation of rebellion. Against a private man rebellion was impossible
and one who so abused office could himself be a rebel against true order.
Equally, in doing right in extremity, even private men might become
public officers, their actions being killings, not murders. In this destabil-


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