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Journal > Volumes > 38 (2007) / 4 (Winter)
Inventing the British Republic: Richard Beacon’s Solon His Follie (1594) and the Rhetoric of Civilization
D. Alan Orr
Maryland Institute College of Art

Richard Beacon’s Solon His Follie (Oxford, 1594) has stood at the center of efforts to construct a significant republican past for the British Isles prior to the actual experience of republican government during the Interregnum (1649–60). In this interpretation the preeminence of monarchy in late Tudor and early Stuart England did not preclude the development of quasi-republican modes of civic consciousness emphasizing the active life of the citizen, civic virtue, and true nobility. This article offers a critical reappraisal of Beacon’s significance to the development of republican consciousness in both England and Ireland during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The central contention is that, although Beacon emphasized the role of classical eloquence in his program for Ireland, this did not signal the emergence of republican consciousness. Beacon’s objective was not the promotion and preservation of republican liberty in England, but rather the consolidation of royal sovereignty in "Ireland."

Pages: 975 - 994