John Fortescue

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Fortescue, John


Born circa 1394; died circa 1476. English jurist, political thinker, and statesman.

In 1442, Fortescue became chief justice of the King’s Bench. In 1460 he was made lord chancellor. At the beginning of the War of the Roses (1455–85), Fortescue sided with the house of Lancaster. In 1461, after the Lancastrians had suffered a defeat, he fled from England. Upon his return in 1471, Fortescue supported the house of York.

Fortescue’s political concepts constitute a transitional link between the ideology of the class-structured monarchy and the doctrine of absolutism. He held that the state should be governed by the monarch in agreement with Parliament. At the same time, Fortescue proposed a number of political measures aimed at increasing the real power of the king and converting the class-representational institutions from a means of controlling and limiting the king to a means of strengthening royal power.


On the Governance of England. Oxford, 1885.
De laudibus legum Angliae. Cambridge, 1942.
References in periodicals archive ?
His topics include Cicero and the politics of the public orthodoxy, Sir John Fortescue and the English tradition, and the natural law tradition and the American political experience.
In particular Cromartie analyzes the views of Sir Edward Coke, Sir John Fortescue, Richard Hooker, Christopher St.
Sir John Fortescue died in 1476 and the tomb is finely carved with tracery and shields.
Between 1468 and 1471, Sir John Fortescue, appointed Lord Chancellor by the Lancastrian government in exile, instructed the young Prince of Wales, Edward, the son of Henry VI, on the state of things as they were then and how he could improve on them when he was restored to his rightful place and became king.
Other interesting things in the church are a tomb to Sir John Fortescue who was a Lord Chief Justice and busts of members of the Keyt family.
Later Sir John Fortescue (Royal Librarian) was chosen as official historian, but unfortunately he was too honest and outspoken; Edmonds, subtle and devious, replaced him.
So consider for a moment, a debt of pounds 89,000 which was incurred by Sir John Fortescue for purchases made on behalf of the Royal Wardrobe during the first six months of the reign of James I.