Sir Thomas Smith 's Seminal Work

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De Republica Anglorum is Sir Thomas Smith’s seminal work, a striking social commentary on the order of English society in the 16th Century. It dissects in great detail the “four sorts” of the social order, and provides us with several great insights into Early Modern Englishmen’s opinions on power, social mobility and their places within society. Sir Thomas Smith was a scholar and diplomat of the 1560s, and a man in possession of “a precocious intellect” . He came from small means, as the son of a sheep famer, and managed to elevate his status through education, entering Cambridge from the early age of 11 to peruse law and politics. De Republica was written during his time in the French court, where he was appointed ambassador. This period was rife with scepticism, particularly towards the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth, and it is possible that De Republica was written defensively in reaction to the whispers of the French court. Her claim to the throne was hotly debated and there was speculation that English society could not function properly under a female ruler. There is also evidence to suggest it was a criticism of the French court, as seen in the subtle nods to tax paying gentlemen (quote). The circulation of the book is also important to consider. It was written between 1563 and 1565, but not published officially until 1583. It gained popularity and acclaim through manuscript circulation, and was widely ready throughout England and France. Smith paints a very detailed

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