This article examines the emergence of the concept of the state in Elizabethan Ireland and England. It argues that in Ireland early shape was given to both principal assumptions associated with a modern abstract notion of the state, in that government in Ireland came to conceive of its authority as distinct from both the person of the prince and the wider Irish polity. This came about because Irish government had to function at a distance from Elizabeth, who remained resident in England, whilst on the other hand government sought to act independently of a wider Irish polity, which it deemed to be corrupt. This article will argue that such a development preempted a wider shift in English and European political philosophy, and what followed was a use of the term state in Irish government correspondence which reflected the notion that the authority government possessed was distinct from both ruler and ruled.
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