Private alliances and exchange of favors permeated political, social, economic, and artistic life in early modern Europe. These informal patronage relationships, which helped construct ties between monarchs and political elites, were especially strong in early Stuart England. As court patronage grew, so did opportunities for betrayal and corruption. But was Stuart government really more corrupt than Tudor government? Were the structures of governance becoming unworkable, or were they badly managed by the Stuarts? Did corruption aid modernization?
In "Court Patronage and Corruption in Early Stuart England," Linda Levy Peck tackles these and other questions about the patronage that structured early modern society. She analyzes the language and common metaphors of patronage as well as the structures and networks that made patronage function. She then applies this analysis to studies of factions, favorites, naval venality, impeachment, and monopolies. Finally, she argues that the increase in royal bounty in the early seventeenth century redefined the corrupt practices that characterized early modern administration.
This wide-ranging and thoroughly researched volume goes to the heart of the revisionist debate about the crisis of government that led to the English Civil War. A major contribution to Stuart studies, it will also be essential reading for scholars of early modern history, literature, politics, and economics.