Projects of Governance: Garrisons and the State in England, 1560s-1630s
Shannon, Andrea M.
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This dissertation offers the first in depth examination of the government of garrisons in England between the 1560s and the 1630s, via the close examination of three case studies: the garrisons at Plymouth, Portsmouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed. The garrisons located at vulnerable locations along England’s frontier existed to help maintain the internal peace and safety of the realm. The central government, the crown and the privy council, and those who lived in these vulnerable areas agreed about the value and necessity of defence. They also agreed that defence served the larger goal of stable and orderly domestic government. They disagreed, however, over the government of garrisons. The central government and those upon whom it relied to govern in the localities thus entered into negotiations over the nature of garrison government. In these negotiations, the Elizabethan central government regularly and successfully asserted the queen’s right to appoint a garrison captain and successfully maintained him in his jurisdiction once appointed. The regime took specific, goal oriented action to maintain the stable and Protestant polity that was, in their view, established under Elizabeth I. The result was expansion of the state. This study questions, therefore, the extent to which the early modern English state expanded through an undirected process of state formation. While the garrisons under study here reveal that England underwent significant military development during this period, these garrisons still did not constitute a standing army. The Elizabethan central government still lacked the physical coercive power to implement their ambitions without recourse to negotiation. Domestic garrisons reveal, however, that state building occurred not in spite of the fact that power was negotiated, but rather because it was negotiated. The central government’s hand at the bargaining table was not as weak as is sometimes portrayed, particularly with regard to military matters. Defence of the realm was part of the royal prerogative and so actions taken concerning the government of garrisons carried considerable legitimacy. Moreover, as the font of all official authority within the state, the central government was the ultimate arbiter of jurisdictional dispute. Those who possessed official authority in early modern England feared the diminution of that authority, through actions perceived as illegitimate, in the eyes of those over whom they governed. Equally unpalatable, however, was the diminishing of one’s authority through the encroachment of the authority of another. Against this eventuality, one’s only recourse was the central government.