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Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: law
Drawing upon primary and secondary historical material, this paper explores the role of intelligence in early modern government. It focuses upon developments in seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century England, a site-specific genealogical moment in the broader history of state power/knowledges. Addressing a tendency in Foucauldian work to neglect pre-eighteenth-century governance, the analysis reveals a set of interrelated processes which gave rise to an innovative technique for anticipating hazard and opportunity for the state. At the intersection of raison d’État, the evolving art of government, widespread routines of secrecy and a post-Westphalia field of European competition and exchange, intelligence was imagined as a fundamental solution to the concurrent problems of ensuring peace and stability while improving state forces. In the administrative offices of the English Secretary of State, an assemblage of complex and interrelated procedures sought to produce and manipulate information in ways which exposed both possible risks to the state and potential opportunities for expansion and gain. As this suggests, the art of intelligence played an important if largely unacknowledged role in the formation and growth of the early modern state. Ensuring strategic advantage over rivals, intelligence also limited the ability of England's neighbours to dominate trade, control the seas and master the colonies, functioning as a constitutive feature of European balance and equilibrium. As the analysis concludes, understanding intelligence as a form of governmental technique – a way of doing something – reveals an entirely novel way of thinking about and investigating its myriad (historical and contemporary) formations.
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    • 13 In the seventeenth century…the administrative duties performed through [the secretary's] office steadily increased. As the privy council declined in importance as an administrative body owing to its large numbers and the increased complexities of government…the secretaries of state…emerged in the forefront of political life as heads of the chief executive offices of the state. (Higham, 1925, p. 366)
    • 14 It has been said that from the appointment of the first Secretary of State, England was governed 'not through peers of ancient lineage' but by a new 'gentlemanly class' of Cromwells, Sadlers, Petres, and Cecils (Dicey, 1760, p. 42; see also, Brown, 1968; Kleimola, 1987).
    • 15 These powers were drawn from Sir Robert Beale's 'Treatise on the office of a Counsellor and Principal Secretarie to her Majestie'. Beale was Chief clerk to Queen Elizabeth's principal secretary Francis Walsingham.
    • 16 Throughout the Restoration period, which began in 1660 after Charles II was (re)installed as King of England, there were two Secretaries of State; one for dealing with northern Europe (the Northern Department) and one for dealing with southern Europe. Both Secretaries shared responsibility for domestic and colonial affairs.
    • 17 British Library Manuscript #47133. Egmont Papers (1576-1733), Vol. CCXIV (ff. ii+276).
    • 18 Moreland is writing after the Restoration of the English monarchy.
    • 19 Moreland is here referring to the beheading of Charles I in 1649.
    • 20 This from a letter written by Isaac Basire to Sir Phillip Musgrave, 17 May, 1665. Durham University Library, Cosin Letter Books, 1(b): 132.
    • 21 Thus did one Mr. Cockin, a preacher to a gathered Congregation, constantly for divers years together discover to Mr. Thurloe (though with all secrecy imaginable) all the proceedings and consultations of his Independent brethren, and had a salary of 500lb. per annum for his pains; and thus did Sir Richard Willis betray all the Councills and undertakings of the Royallists. (from John Wildman's 'brief discourse concerning the business of intelligence', printed in Firth, 1898).
    • 22 This is taken from 'A brief discourse concerning the business of intelligence and how it may be managed to the best advantage', authored sometime during the Restoration, likely by John Wildman (printed in, Firth, 1898).
    • 23 From John Wildman's 'brief discourse concerning the business of intelligence' (printed in Firth, 1898).
    • 24 From Thomas Scot's account of his actions as an intelligencer during the Commonwealth (printed in Firth, 1897).
    • 25 From the 1663 lease of the office to Daniel O'Neil.
    • 26 From John Wildman's 'brief discourse concerning the business of intelligence' (printed in Firth, 1898). See also the 'confession' of Thomas Scot (printed in Firth, 1897) and Hobman (1961, p. 19).
    • 27 From John Wildman's 'brief discourse concerning the business of intelligence' (printed in Firth, 1898). See also the 'confession' of Thomas Scot (printed in Firth, 1897).
    • 28 After learning of the practice, a French official advised his Court in Paris to consider carefully future correspondence, as the English had developed, …tricks to open letters more skillfully than anywhere in the world. Some even go the length of fancying that it is the thing to do, and that it is not possible to be a great statesmen without tampering with packets. (from documents printed in Jusserand, 1892, p. 50)
    • 29 From a document found in the Secretaries office, now in the British Library (see also Fraser, 1956, p. 59).
    • 30 Taken from a letter from Secretary Coventry to Lord Arlington, September 18, 1677.
    • 31 From John Wildman's 'brief discourse concerning the business of intelligence' (printed in Firth, 1898).
    • 32 From Moreland's Discourse; British Library Manuscript #47133. Egmont Papers (1576-1733), Vol. CCXIV (ff. ii+276).
    • 33 To protect their identities, The manner how he corresponded with spyes either beyond sea, or from the countries here in England was thus: the said Moreland gave them some false addresse whereby to direct all their letters…and at the same time sent the same addresse to Mr Dorislaus at the post office to put it down upon his list, that so when he opened the maile, and found such an addresse, he might know whether to send them.
    • 34 From Thomas Scot's account of his actions as an intelligencer during the Commonwealth (from Wildman's Discourse, printed in Firth, 1897).
    • 35 Largely by virtue of their higher social standing. A collection of the sorts of letters written by intelligencers has been compiled by Thomas Birch, who found them to be a more interesting account of history than official state papers (see Birch, 1849).
    • 36 Translated from the anonymous 1736 Discours historique a Monseigneur le Dauphin sur le Gouvernement interieur du Royaume; see Brian (1994, p. 155).
    • 37 These instruments included a new 'diplomatic' form of warfare, a system of diplomacy which sought to preserve the 'greatest possible stability', the creation of permanent standing armies, and an information apparatus (see Foucault, 2007, p. 301-306).
    • 38 This fourth dimension of the military-diplomatic apparatus is mentioned only in the original manuscript for 22 March, and is for some reason not taken up in the lecture (see Foucault, 2007, p. 306 and footnote).
    • 39 As John Wildman noted in his discourse on intelligence: Another intrigue in the businesse of Intelligence is this: All Ambassadors and publique Ministers, are for the most part but great spies, and one of the most acceptable services they can doe their masters, is to gaine for mony some of the Ministers, Councellors, Secretaries, or other Officers of that Kingdome or state where they reside. And therefore there ought to bee a strickt watch upon them, and their letters constantly opened, and it were not difficult to place in their houses by some other hand at a distance some trusty person, who might be entertained as their domestique servants, and by that means discover who come into them at back dores in the night and the like.
    • 40 The struggle between private printers and the English Secretaries of State has been dealt with at length by Levy (1985) and Stephens (2007).
    • 41 As Thomas Scot confessed after the Restoration: I had much to doe and much of my time was spent … in suppressing the swarming number of pamphleteers, which sooner or later I always got into my power (printed in Firth, 1897, p. 121)
    • 42 After the English Revolution of 1688, state control over printing was more difficult to justify and to sustain, as 1689-1690 saw a number of private pamphleteers and publicly available gazettes spring up in and around London. The onslaught of print after the Revolution was facilitated by both the Penny Post (originally established in London in 1680, and long considered a threat to Secretarial control over printed matter) and the opening of 'coffee-houses' in which patrons gathered to talk, and in which professional intelligencers plied their trade (Fraser, 1956). With the accession of William and Mary in 1688, the monopoly on print that the Secretaries had enjoyed disintegrated as private licenses were handed out and the 'private press' began to emerge (Williams, 1908).
    • 43 Prohibitions date back at least the early 1500's, and some even proscribed 'spoken news'. In 1538 King Henry VIII decreed that all printed matter had to be approved by the Privy Council, and in 1557, Queen Mary granted a Royal Charter to the Company of Stationers which restricted the right of owning a press. As Clarke (2004, p. 13) notes,
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