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‘Partialitie in a Iudge, is a Turpitude’: Partial Judges and Judicious Revengers in Early Modern English Drama

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Chapter Summary

The author briefs on some examples of impartiality as an ideal drawn from within early modern legal discourse, before looking beyond the legal profession to find instances where this ideal is tested and critiqued. The ultimate example of judicial impartiality comes from the Old Testament, with King Solomon refusing to be swayed by the opposing claims of two women, and instead offering to divide an infant between them. The fact that Solomon acts in the role of judge made the subject 'highly relevant to the legal profession', so much so that a late sixteenth century painting of the scene is known to have hung in the hall at Middle Temple, a central space in the life of any of the Inns of Court. William Lambarde also wrote on the importance of judicial impartiality, in a legal treatise aimed at amending corrupt practices within the profession.

Keywords: Judge; judicial impartiality; King Solomon; William Lambarde



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