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Professor Quentin Skinner


Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities



I have broad interests in modern intellectual history, and have also published on a number of philosophical themes, including the nature of interpretation and historical explanation, and on several issues in contemporary political theory, including the concept of political liberty and the character of the State.

My CV and list of principal publications 


Postgraduate Teaching


Research Interests:

My historical research centres on early-modern Europe, and one of my principal interests lies in the Italian Renaissance.  I have published books on Machiavelli, on early Renaissance political painting, on ideals of civic virtue, and I have edited Machiavelli’s The Prince.  The other main focus of my research is on seventeenth century England.  I have written extensively on the relations between rhetoric and philosophy, and my most recent book is on Shakespeare and forensic eloquence.  I have also published three books on the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes.  My best-known work, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, attempts to span the whole early-modern period.

  • Philosophical interests: speech-act theory; the nature of interpretation and historical explanation
  • Political-theoretical interests: the concept of representation; theories of political liberty; the character of the State.
  • Historical interests. European intellectual history of the early-modern period. Special interests: classical rhetoric in the Renaissance; the political theories of Machiavelli, Hobbes and others.



1. The Foundations of Modern Political Thought: Volume I: The Renaissance (link is external) xxiv + 305pp., Cambridge University Press, 1978. Translated into Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Greek, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish,Turkish

2. The Foundations of Modern Political Thought: Volume II: The Age of Reformation (link is external) vi + 405pp., Cambridge University Press, 1978. Translated into Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish. Turkish translation forthcoming. 

3(a) Machiavelli  (link is external) vii + 102pp., Oxford University Press, 1981.

3 (b) Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction (link is external)[A revised version of 3 (a)] x + 110pp., Oxford University Press, 2000.Translated into Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Malay, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish. 

4. Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes (link is external) xvi + 477pp., Cambridge University Press, 1996 Translated into Chinese, Italian, Portuguese. 

5. Liberty before Liberalism (link is external) xiv + 142pp., Cambridge University Press, 1998. Translated into Chinese, Farsi, French, Greek, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish.

6. [with Yves-Charles Zarka], Hobbes: The Amsterdam Debate (link is external), ed. Hans Blom 87pp., George Olms, Hildesheim, 2001.

7. Visions of Politics: Volume I: Regarding Method (link is external) xvi + 209pp., Cambridge University Press, 2002. Translated into Chinese, Farsi, French, Italian, Korean, Polish Portuguese and Spanish translations forthcoming

8.Visions of Politics: Volume II: Renaissance Virtues (link is external) xix + 461pp. (with 12 colour plates), Cambridge University Press, 2002. Translated into Italian; Chinese and French translations forthcoming

9. Visions of Politics: Volume III: Hobbes and Civil Science (link is external) xvii + 386pp., Cambridge University Press. Chinese and French translations forthcoming. 

10. L’artiste en philosophie politique (link is external) 187pp. (with 8 colour plates), Editions de Seuil, Paris [Raisons d’agir Éditions], 2003.

11.Hobbes and Republican Liberty (link is external) xxiii+245pp. (with 19 illustrations), Cambridge University Press, 2008. Translated into Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish. Japanese and Romanian translations forthcoming.

12.. Uma Genealogia do Estado Moderno (link is external) 62pp., Imprensa de Ciências Sociais, Lisbon, 2011.

13.. Die drei Körper des Staates (link is external)112pp., Wallstein, Göttingen, 2012.

14. La verité et l’historien (link is external), ed. Christopher Hamel 67pp., Editions EHESS, Paris, 2011.

15. Forensic Shakespeare  (link is external), xii+356pp., Oxford University Press, 2014. 

Books Edited

1. (Co-editor and contributor), Philosophy, Politics and Society (link is external): Fourth Series Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1972.

2. (Co-editor and contributor), Philosophy in History (link is external) Cambridge University Press, 1984. Translated into Spanish.

3. (Editor and contributor), The Return of Grand Theory in the Human Sciences (link is external)Cambridge University Press, 1985. Translated into Greek, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish.

4. (Co-editor and contributor), The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy (link is external) Cambridge University Press, 1988.

5. (Co-editor), Machiavelli, The Prince (link is external) (trans. Russell Price) Cambridge University Press, 1988.

6. (Co-editor and contributor), Machiavelli and Republicanism (link is external) Cambridge University Press, 1990. Translated into Chinese.

7. (Co-editor and contributor), Political Discourse in Early-modern Britain (link is external) Cambridge University Press, 1993 Translated into Chinese.

8. (Co-editor) Milton and Republicanism (link is external) Cambridge University Press, 1995.

9. (Co-editor and contributor), Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage (link is external) Volume I: Republicanism and Constitutionalism in Early Modern Europe (link is external)Cambridge University Press, 2002.

10. (Co-editor and contributor), Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage (link is external) Volume II:  The Values of Republicanism in Early Modern Europe (link is external) Cambridge University Press, 2002.

11. (Co-editor and contributor), States and Citizens: History, Theory, Prospects (link is external)Cambridge University Press, 2003. Translated into Chinese.

12. (Co-editor), Thomas Hobbes: Writings on Common Law and Hereditary Right (link is external) Edited by Alan Cromartie and Quentin Skinner (The Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes, Volume XI) The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2005.

13. (Co-editor and contributor) Sovereignty in Fragments: The Past, Present and Future of a Contested Concept (link is external) Cambridge University Press, 2010.

14. (Editor) Families and States in Western Europe (link is external) Cambridge University Press 2011

15. (Co-editor and contributor) Freedom and the Construction of Europe (link is external) 2 volumes, Cambridge University Press, March 2013.

Editorial Positions

Member of the Editorial Board of

PhD Supervision

I welcome applications from candidates interested in doctoral research in any of the philosophical, historical or political-theoretical areas I mention above.

Recent PhD pupils have worked on such topics as selfhood, Renaissance melancholy, political interests, freedom and property, Renaissance political counselling, English national character, the history of early-modern republicanism, colonisation and empire and the philosophies of Hobbes and Locke.

Current PhD Students

  • Vanessa Lim – Shakespeare's Strategies of Deliberation

Current PHD Students

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