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Excerpts from the Lawes Divine, Morall, and Martiall (1611)

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Written in 1611, this document outlines some of the original laws governing the Jamestown colony. These laws were intended to govern all aspects of the colony, from theft to blasphemy. As maintaining prisons was often impractical, there was usually a death sentence for breaking one of the "laws divine."

A close reading of this document offers insight into the kinds of things colonists felt were important. For example, the author believed that there were two sources for knowledge and wisdom: "divine nature" and "instruction and tradition from others." Thus, the foundation for this document is drawn from the author's views on the divine (Christianity) and European traditions. What were the fundamental principles of government and law developed by leading European political thinkers?

How are the "laws divine" reflected in our society today? Do we still follow any of them? What are the characteristics of a good citizen? What are duties expected of all citizens?

Source: Sir Thomas Gates and Sir Thomas Dale, "Excerpts from the Lawes Divine, Morall, and Martiall," Virtual Jamestown (accessed October 19, 2009).

How to Cite This Source
Sir Thomas Gates and Sir Thomas Dale, "Excerpts from the Lawes Divine, Morall, and Martiall (1611)," in Virginia Civics, Item #247, http://vagovernmentmatters.org/primary-sources/247 (accessed September 20, 2018).
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