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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: "Liberties"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0544  Thursday, 8 March 2001

[1]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Mar 2001 16:27:21 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.0543 "Liberties"

[2]     From:   Matt Kozusko <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Mar 2001 15:19:13 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0543 "Liberties"

[3]     From:   Stuart Taylor <
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        Date:   Thursday, 8 Mar 2001 01:03:53 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0543 "Liberties"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Mar 2001 16:27:21 -0000
Subject: 12.0543 "Liberties"
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.0543 "Liberties"

In fact the OED is of help.  I would refer you to definition 7. c.
"...The district over which a person's or corporation's privilege
extends.  Also (in England before 1850), a district within the limits of
a county, but exempt from the jurisdiction of the sheriff... liberty or
liberties of a city: the district, extending beyond the bounds of a
city, which is subject to the control of the municipal authority."  So
this is the exact opposite of Matt's initial understanding.

John Briggs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matt Kozusko <
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Date:           Wednesday, 07 Mar 2001 15:19:13 -0600
Subject: 12.0543 "Liberties"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0543 "Liberties"

John Briggs wrote, in response to my question about the term
"liberties":

>In fact the OED is of help.  I would refer you to definition 7. c.
>"...The district over which a person's or corporation's privilege
>extends. [...]

Oddly enough, I had initially copied the OED entry directly beneath this
one into my query, but somehow passed right over the one you point to.
Thanks very much to a fresh pair of eyes!

The core of this convoluted question remains:  does the City's use of
the term in the 1574 documents refer to city jurisdiction inside of the
twenty-six wards of London *and* in the "liberties," under the umbrella
sense of "area of municipal control," or does it specifically refer to
"the liberties" (at this date, something besides the Clink, Paris
Garden, or Shoreditch)?  The former seems significantly more likely,
especially given that the Common Council Act of 1574, as William Ingram
has pointed out, specifically targets playing in inn yards within the
city, and that playing in "the liberties" as we commonly think of it did
not especially concern the city until closer to 1576.  And of course,
the OED supports this reading after all.

My sense is that the primary usage of the term "liberties" by the
authorities (and others) in early modern London is not at all the same
usage as that made popular by Stephen Mullaney's _The Place of the
Stage_.  In other words, when Stowe says "I am next to speak briefly of
the suburbs, as well without the gates and walls as without the
liberties," he means, by "liberties," the area of city jurisdiction
(Stowe's _Survey_, ed. Morley, reprint 1997, p. 382).

I have received some helpful suggestions off-list, which I am
investigating.  My thanks to all...


Matt Kozusko

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Taylor <
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Date:           Thursday, 8 Mar 2001 01:03:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 12.0543 "Liberties"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0543 "Liberties"

In _Tudor Royal Proclamations_ (Yale, 1969), Hughes and Larkin gloss
'liberty' as "place of franchise" and point to the term's use in several
documents (laws pertaining to alms-gathering, fasting, food-pricing,
games, schools of fencing, wages, etc).  See the Index in Volume 3.

The OED1 does discuss 'liberty' in terms of 'franchise...domain...' and
says, "the district, extending beyond the bounds of the city, which is
subject to the control of the municipal authority" (see #7).

I find "hart of our liberties" somewhat more difficult (but not
impossible) to reconcile with such definitions.  The phrase seems to
take liberty with the term's legal denotation.
 

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