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Sir John Fortescue

Fortescue, Sir John (fôrˈtĭskyō) [key], c.1394–1476, English jurist. A supporter of the Lancastrian king Henry VI, he was chief justice of the Court of King's Bench from 1442 until 1461, when Henry was deposed by the Yorkist Edward IV. Fortescue was attainted and fled to France with the royal family. It is likely that while there he was tutor to the crown prince, Edward, and that his De laudibus legum Angliae [in praise of English law] was written (c.1470) for the prince's instruction. An important work in the history of English law, it was not published until the reign of Henry VIII. He joined the abortive attempt at a Lancastrian restoration (1471), but he was pardoned by Edward IV and later admitted to the council. His Difference between an Absolute and Limited Monarchy (c.1471) was an early plea for limited monarchy and a perceptive analysis of the bases of the Lancastrian monarchy and the reasons for its failure. First published in 1714, it was later issued as The Governance of England (1885).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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