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The Politics of Counsel in England and Scotland, 1286-1707$
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Jacqueline Rose

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266038

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266038.001.0001

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Councils, Providence and Political Legitimacy in Early Virginia

Councils, Providence and Political Legitimacy in Early Virginia

(p.211) 11 Councils, Providence and Political Legitimacy in Early Virginia
The Politics of Counsel in England and Scotland, 1286-1707

Alexander Haskell

British Academy

Councils played a significant role in late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century English colonising efforts in America, especially in reinforcing the legitimacy of these endeavours against several challenges. Confronted by English monarchs who were cautious in asserting their sovereignty across the Atlantic, Spanish and papal threats to would-be intruders in the Indies, and frightening signs that God resented such voyages as violations of his providential plan, colonisers relied on councils to lend their project an aura of propriety and authority. This legitimising impulse led to Virginia’s particular governing structure of a pair of councils charged with the duty of advising the governor and king in the proper governance of a colony that initially was idealised as a new kingdom in the making. Virginia’s councils became especially important as an implicit refutation of the early Stuarts’ growing view that colonies should be sources of revenue rather than states.

Keywords:   Council of Virginia, Robert Cecil, Sir John Harvey, Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Virginia Council of State, Virginia General Assembly, Richard Hakluyt, William Cecil, Sir Francis Walsingham

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