Trust and Distrust

Mark Knights


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Oxford University Press
9 December 2021
ISBN: 9780198796244
512 pages

From the publisher

Trust and Distrust offers the first overview of Britain's history of corruption in office in the pre-modern era, 1600-1850, and as such will appeal not only to historians, but also to political and social scientists. Mark Knights paints a picture of the interaction of the domestic and imperial stories of corruption in office, showing how these stories were intertwined and related. Linking corruption in office to the domestic and imperial state has not been attempted before, and Knights does this by drawing on extensive interdisciplinary sources relating to the East India Company as well as other colonial officials in the Atlantic World and elsewhere in Britain's emerging empire. Both 'corruption' and 'office' were concepts that were in evolution during the period 1600-1850 and underwent very significant but protracted change which this study charts and seeks to explain. The book makes innovative use of the concept of trust, which helped to shape office in ways that underlined principles of selflessness, disinterestedness, integrity, and accountability in officials.