This paper considers the constitutional and political significance of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, in the context of fin-de-siècle Elizabethan rule, during which period the jurisdiction of the prerogative courts threatened to supersede that of the courts of common law. I examine juristic belief in the existence of an unwritten law, superior in authority to imperial edict: a theme which resonates throughout Titus, but which also underscores The Reports of Sir Edward Coke, which he was compiling in the 1590s. I analyse also the symbolic importance of ancient Rome to the development in England of a body of literature that might loosely be termed republican. The story of the destruction of Troy and its re-emergence in London as Troynovant is a literary device that was employed by Elizabethan writers as a means of establishing the ancient credentials of the English state and English common law.
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