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Response to Review of Martial Law and English Laws, c.1500-c.1700

I would like to thank Dr. Williams for his thoughtful review of my work. It gives me great pride to think that such a serious and erudite scholar has combed over my book. I am further grateful that he thinks my work helps to confirm Christopher Brooks’ thesis. I have read Law, Politics and Society so many times. I am deeply indebted to that generational historian of the law.

I am happy that he is continuing a conversation I began about martial law and related issues. I hope that future scholars take up these problems further. There is certainly much more to do. As Dr. Williams notes, I leave some questions unanswered.

I would like to only comment on two of Dr. Williams’ last major points: the similarity of martial law to England’s other laws and the absence of comparison between martial law and other forms of law. These were two of the biggest challenges for me writing the book. I realized early on that what constituted martial law at any given moment changed, and at times dramatically. I also realized that it was often informed by other English legal practices, which were also in motion. This made the project enormously difficult but also intellectually rewarding as I had to track the concept across time and space. I also realized that due to space constraints a full comparison between martial law and England’s other laws was probably impossible. While I try to note where courts-martial are consistent with other legal practices, I never engage in a full-scale comparison. I completely agree that those comparisons should be done and that much will be gained from such an exercise.

Again, I would like to thank Dr. Williams for his review.