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.
WORKSOn the Governance of England. Oxford, 1885.
De laudibus legum Angliae. Cambridge, 1942.