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Misinformation and Disinformation in Late Jacobean Court Politics

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Abstract This article explores the role of rumor in late Jacobean court politics. It argues that misinformation and disinformation were not incidental to the jostling for power and the interplay of faction that took place at court, but were instead major political forces, capable of affecting the fortunes of even the most powerful courtiers. Perception, as this article demonstrates, was everything at court, since false rumors that individual courtiers would be granted offices or would soon fall from power had a self-fulfilling potential. While contemporaries were quick to assume that rumors were spread deliberately, this paper demonstrates that such false reports were sometimes mere speculation and wishful thinking passed on as fact. False rumors made decisions about court appointments or the disgrace of ministers much more of a collective act, and much less the preserve of the king, than historians have hitherto realized.

Affiliations: 1: Durham University


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