Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of California / Berkeley

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of California / Berkeley
Legal Landscapes of Early Modern England, 1489-1700

Early modern English life has been described by David Rollison as "a culture of households in a landscape". Over the past fifty years, historians have created a nuanced and creative historiography that enriches modern understandings of the social and family lives of those lost households. This dissertation extends that sophisticated work toward understanding how the individuals that populated those households related to the landscapes in which they lived and how that relation, in turn, affected social and governmental interactions among neighbors and their nation. The project begins by asking why representations of the physical world, and landscape in particular, dramatically changed in early modern England and then continues to analyze why and how those changing representations affected the reach and the capabilities of law. This dissertation uses one of the richest yet understudied textual legacies of early modern English history—court records concerned with real property—in conjunction with material artifacts such as surveyors' tools, maps, and the landscape itself as its evidential foundation. Using the law of real property as a way of approaching this history is significant because it brings together otherwise seemingly disparate aspects of human life including the distribution of wealth and well-being, the development of rights, political ideology, commercial enterprise, environmental quality, and the idea of what it means to "own". The English law of real property remains one of the few systems created during the early modern period that remains relatively unchanged, affecting not only English but also global debates over the rule of law, environmentalism, and human rights today.