‘Du concept à l’institution: Les spécifités du mot “police” en langue anglaise’

Emsley, Clive (2018). ‘Du concept à l’institution: Les spécifités du mot “police” en langue anglaise’. In: Cicchini, Marco and Denis, Vincent eds. Le Nœud gordien. Police et justice: des Lumières à l’État libéral (1750-1850). Chêne-Bourg, Switzerland: Georg, pp. 47–69.

Abstract

The word ‘police’ has its origins in the languages of Classical Greece and Rome. Through to the Enlightenment it had a broad conceptual meaning relating to the general well-being of a city or wider territory. The early historians of the English institution known as the police seem to have had little or no awareness of this early usage. Most of them assumed that eighteenth-century England was suffering from a serious rise in crime and disorder and that the creation of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 constituted a solution to the increasing problems.
Maintaining throughout comparisons and contrasts with continental Europe, this essay explores the responsibility for the maintenance of order and the enforcement of law in England from the late medieval period to the development of the police institution. Drawing on recent research it addresses English attitudes to civic duty in the realms of policing, English perceptions of events regarding police developments in Europe and pre-police organisations before 1829.

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