Political Patents of Monopoly: Parliamentary and Public Discourse of Economic Policy, 1628-1648
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Discussion of patents of monopoly during the reign of Charles I reflected the changing political environment from the 1620s through the 1640s. Members of parliament and merchant pamphleteers described monopolies as representative of excessive regulation of trade. For tradesmen authors of printed pamphlets in the 1640s, monopolies oppressed by restricting subjects’ rights to participate in trade, and abused the commonwealth by concentrating wealth for a few people at the expense of the rest of the state. Parliamentary representatives attributed to monopolies such varied effects as arbitrary government, abuses to subjects’ personal and property rights, excesses of the crown, and attempts to collect revenue without the approval of parliament. This study complicates existing historical literature by illustrating how patents of monopoly tie together existing debates on economic history, pre-civil war narrative, and the public sphere.