The Invention of Criminal Blasphemy: Rex v. Taylor (1676)

Representations, Vol. 103, pp. 30-52, Summer 2008

23 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2009  

Elliott Visconsi

Yale Department of English & Yale Law School

Date Written: July 3, 2008

Abstract

This article provides an account of the emergence of the common law jurisdiction over blasphemy, arguing that the blasphemy laws first developed in Rex v. Taylor had an explicitly secular purpose. Instead of understanding this crucial decision as an emblem of the early modern fusion of church and state, this article reads Sir Matthew Hale's famous axiom that 'Christianity is parcel of the laws of England' as a step towards the emergence of an English civil religion.

Keywords: blasphemy, common law, civil religion, secularization,

Suggested Citation

Visconsi, Elliott, The Invention of Criminal Blasphemy: Rex v. Taylor (1676) (July 3, 2008). Representations, Vol. 103, pp. 30-52, Summer 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1429506

Elliott Visconsi (Contact Author)

Yale Department of English & Yale Law School ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

HOME PAGE: http://visconsi.org

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