Here’s a new book, Sir Edward Coke and the Reformation of the Laws: Religion, Politics and Jurisprudence, 1578-1616, by David Chan Smith (Wilfred Laurier University, Ontario), published late last year by Cambridge University Press on Coke’s legal thought and the role of religion in the development of his views of church-state relations. The publisher’s description follows.
Throughout his early career, Sir Edward Coke joined many of his contemporaries in his concern about the uncertainty of the common law. Coke attributed this uncertainty to the ignorance and entrepreneurship of practitioners, litigants, and other users of legal power whose actions eroded confidence in the law. Working to limit their behaviours, Coke also simultaneously sought to strengthen royal authority and the Reformation settlement. Yet the tensions in his thought led him into conflict with James I, who had accepted many of the criticisms of the common law. Sir Edward Coke and the Reformation of the Laws reframes the origins of Coke’s legal thought within the context of law reform and provides a new interpretation of his early career, the development of his legal thought, and the path from royalism to opposition in the turbulent decades leading up to the English civil wars.
I’m a bit late in noting this book, but the subject is so interesting that an exception was needed. Danilo Raponi’s (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main) still new Religion and Politics in the Risorgimento: Britain and the New Italy, 1861-1875, was published by Palgrave Mamillan last fall and looks to be a wonderful resource on an insufficiently studied topic. The publisher’s description follows.
This book examines Anglo-Italian political and cultural relations in the years of the ‘Roman Question’, and it analyses the impact and importance of religion in the construction of a British ‘Orientalist’ perception of Italy. It focuses on the British and Foreign Bible Society’s attempts to turn Italy into a Protestant nation, showing how perceived shortcomings in the national character of the Italians convinced the British that such ‘Protestantisation’ was necessary if Italy was ever to achieve nationhood. Their efforts encountered, however, strong popular and intellectual resistance from both the Italian people and the Catholic clergy, who called on Catholic Ireland to intervene in their defence. By looking at the interplay between religion and foreign policy, this book breaks through the boundaries between high politics and culture in a way that has not been attempted so far in the study of modern Italy, and puts religion at the centre of a harsh political and cultural war, one that was fought primarily on a transnational level.
Whatever little I know about the ius commune–continental Europe’s set of perennial legal principles (derived in part from Roman and Canon law) existing in a code-based system of law–I learned from the work of the distinguished medieval legal historian Professor R.H. Helmholz (Chicago). And because it is the 800th anniversary year of King John’s acceptance of the terms of Magna Carta, may I also recommend this podcast wherein Professor Helmholz gives a talk on Magna Carta “from a European perspective” (he begins to speak at just after the 5 minute mark and speaks for about 15 minutes).
Professor Helmholz’s very interesting latest book, Natural Law in Court: A History of Legal Theory in Practice, is being published next month by Harvard University Press. The publisher’s description follows.
The theory of natural law grounds human laws in the universal truths of God’s creation. Until very recently, lawyers in the Western tradition studied natural law as part of their training, and the task of the judicial system was to put its tenets into concrete form, building an edifice of positive law on natural law’s foundations. Although much has been written about natural law in theory, surprisingly little has been said about how it has shaped legal practice. Natural Law in Court asks how lawyers and judges made and interpreted natural law arguments in England, Europe, and the United States, from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the American Civil War.
R. H. Helmholz sees a remarkable consistency in how English, Continental, and early American jurisprudence understood and applied natural law in cases ranging from family law and inheritance to criminal and commercial law. Despite differences in their judicial systems, natural law was treated across the board as the source of positive law, not its rival. The idea that no person should be condemned without a day in court, or that penalties should be proportional to the crime committed, or that self-preservation confers the right to protect oneself against attacks are valuable legal rules that originate in natural law. From a historical perspective, Helmholz concludes, natural law has advanced the cause of justice.
This May, Cambridge University Press will release “Imperial Russia’s Muslims: Islam, Empire and European Modernity, 1788–1914” by Mustafa Tuna (Duke University). The publisher’s description follows:
Imperial Russia’s Muslims offers an exploration of social and cultural change among the Muslim communities of Central Eurasia from the late eighteenth century through to the outbreak of the First World War. Drawing from a wealth of Russian and Turkic sources, Mustafa Tuna surveys the roles of Islam, social networks, state interventions, infrastructural changes and the globalization of European modernity in transforming imperial Russia’s oldest Muslim community: the Volga-Ural Muslims. Shifting between local, imperial and transregional frameworks, Tuna reveals how the Russian state sought to manage Muslim communities, the ways in which both the state and Muslim society were transformed by European modernity, and the extent to which the long nineteenth century either fused Russia’s Muslims and the tsarist state or drew them apart. The book raises questions about imperial governance, diversity, minorities, and Islamic reform, and in doing so proposes a new theoretical model for the study of imperial situations.
This April, De Gruyter Press will release “Crossings and Crosses: Borders, Educations and Religions in Northern Europe” edited by Peter Strandbrink, Jenny Berglund, and Thomas Lundén, (Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden). The publisher’s description follows:
Dealing with different regions and cases, the contributions in this volume address and critically explore the theme of borders, educations, and religions in northern Europe. As shown in different ways, and contrary to popular ideas, there seems to be little reason to believe that religious and civic identity formation through public education is becoming less parochial and more culturally open. Even where state borders are porous, where commerce, culture, and trade as well as associative, personal, and social life display stronger liminal traits, normative education remains surprisingly national. This situation is remarkable and goes against the grain of current notions of both accelerating globalisation and a European regional renaissance. The book also takes issue with the foundational tenet that liberal democracies are by definition uninvolved in matters concerning faith and belief. Instead, an implied conclusion is that secular liberal democracy is less than secular and liberal – at least in education, which is a major arena for political-cultural-ethical socialisation, as it aims to confer worldviews and frameworks of identity on young people who will eventually become full citizens and bearers/sharers of prevailing normative communities.
Next month, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Muslims, Schooling and the Question of Self-Segregation” by Shamim Miah (University of Huddersfield, UK). The publisher’s description follows:
‘Integration’ or the supposed lack of it by British Muslims has been a ubiquitous feature in political, media and policy discourses over the past decades, often with little or no evidence base. This book is particularly timely as it draws on empirical research amongst both Muslim school students and parents to examine the question of ‘self-segregation’ in the light of key policy developments around ‘race’, faith and citizenship. It aims to contribute towards a national debate on segregation, schooling and Muslims in Britain through deconstructing the received wisdom of ‘Muslim separateness’.
This May, Ashgate Publishing will release “Funding Religious Heritage” edited by Anne Fornerod (University of Strasbourg). The publisher’s description follows:
This collection brings together a group of highly respected law and religion scholars to explore the funding of religious heritage in the context of state support for religions. The importance of this state support is that on the one hand it illustrates the potential tensions between secular and religious values, whilst on the other it constitutes a relevant tool for investigating the question of the legitimacy of such financial support. The funding logically varies according to the national system of state-religion relationships and this is reflected in the range of countries studied, including: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
The book provides clarity in the assignment of funds to religious heritage, as well as seeking to define the limit of what relates to the exercise of worship and what belongs to cultural policy. It is clear that the main challenge for the future lies not only in managing the dual purpose of religious monuments, but also in re-using these buildings which have lost their original purpose. This collection will appeal to those interested in cultural heritage management, as well as law and religion scholars.
This May, Brill Publishing will release “The Wahhabis seen through European Eyes (1772-1830): Deists and Puritans of Islam” by Giovanni Bonacina (University of Urbino). The publisher’s description follows:
In The Wahhabis seen through European Eyes (1772-1830) Giovanni Bonacina offers an account of the early reactions in Europe to the rise of the Wahhabi movement in Arabia. Commonly pictured nowadays as a form of Muslim fundamentalism, the Wahhabis appeared to many European witnesses as the creators of a deistic revolution with serious political consequences for the Ottoman ancien regime. They were seen either in the light of contemporary events in France, or as Islamic theological reformers in the mould of Calvin, opposing an established church and devotional traditions. These audacious but fascinating attempts to interpret the unknown by way of the better known are illustrated in Bonacina’s book.
This April, Routledge Press will release “Religion at the European Parliament and in European Multi-level Governance” edited by François Foret (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium). The publisher’s description follows:
This book presents the findings of the first ever survey of the religious preferences of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). An international research team interviewed a large sample of MEPs, with the purpose of investigating their beliefs and how these beliefs have an impact on their role as MEPs.
The findings of this survey are offered in order to discuss, in a non-normative way, some key political and intellectual debates. Is Europe secularized? Is the European Union a Christian club? What is the influence of religious lobbying in Brussels? What are the dynamics of value politics? Contributions also compare MEPs with national MPs and citizens to measure whether the findings are specific to the supranational arena and European multi-level governance. External cases, such as the USA and Israel, are also presented to define whether there is a European exceptionalism regarding the role of religion in the political arena.
In May, I.B.Tauris will release “The Pro-Israel Lobby in Europe: The Politics of Religion and Christian Zionism in the European Union: Volume 22” by Elvira King (The University of Leeds). The publisher’s description follows:
The activities of pro-Israel pressure groups and lobbyists in the US are well-known. But the pro-Israel lobby in Europe is less prominent in both academic and media accounts. In a unique account, Elvira King identifies the pro-Israeli groups which attempt to influence policy-makers and implementers in the EU, specifically examining Christian Zionist groups. Through a detailed study of the European Coalition for Israel (ECI), the only Christian Zionist lobby in Brussels, Elvira King analyses whether and how a religious group can (and can fail to) influence decision-makers in the EU. By exploring the context of European relations with Israel as well as the mechanisms through which pressure groups are able to influence EU-wide policies, King offers an analysis which demonstrates how the EU can be a site where religion and politics meet, rather than just being a secular institution. It therefore contains vital primary research for both those interested in the pro-Israel lobby as well as those examining the role of religion in politics more generally.