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Eva McVitty

Doctor of Philosophy, (Arts)
Study Completed: 2016
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
Treason, Manhood, and the English State. Shaping constitutional ideas and political subjects through the laws of treason, 1397-1424

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Ms McVitty’s research questioned how the relationship between the English state and its subjects was renegotiated through the laws of treason during a period when political crisis required new constitutional solutions and models of legitimation. She demonstrated that although customary and chivalric understandings of treason as a direct attack on the king remained relevant, these were being displaced by new interpretations of treason as a crime against the nation, the English people, and the public good. These had significant constitutional repercussions: they connected political subjecthood to ethnicised national identity; introduced into common law the concept of treason as a crime against the abstract public authority of the state; and expanded the scope of treason to include verbal and written expressions of political dissent. Ms McVitty also analysed late medieval conjunctions of gender and language to develop a new interpretation of significant changes in the legal treatment of treasonous speech.

Professor Andrew Brown
Dr Karen Jillings