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School of History

Professor Quentin Skinner


Emeritus Professor of 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.

Q. Skinner CV 2023 [PDF 277KB]


Research Interests:

I have written extensively on questions about historical method and historical explanation, and many of these essays have been collected in the volume edited by James Tully, Meaning and Context: Quentin Skinner and his Critics (1988) and in my book Regarding Method (2001).

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 on the relations between rhetoric and philosophy, including a book on Shakespeare’s use of classical rhetoric, and on debates about political liberty in the English revolution. 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.

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

   (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. 

(c) Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction, second edition xvii+ 120pp., Oxford University Press, 2019. ISBN 978-0-19-883757-2.

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

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

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

15. From Humanism to Hobbes: Studies in Rhetoric and Politics, xiii+432pp., Cambridge University Press, 2018.

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) Freedom and the Construction of Europe, Volume I: Religious and constitutional liberties Cambridge University Press, 2013. 

16. (Co-editor) Freedom and the Construction of Europe Volume II: Free Persons and Free States, Cambridge University Press, 2013. 

17. (Co-editor) Popular sovereignty in historical perspective, Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Editorial Positions

Member of the Editorial Board of


I am no longer accepting PhD students.

Previous PhD students (degree awarded) at Queen Mary:

  • Elliott Karstadt, Private Interests and the Common Good in early-modern England.
  • Lorenzo Sabbadini, Property, Liberty and Self-Ownership in the English Revolution.
  • Joanne Paul, Counsel and Command in Anglophone Political Thought, 1485-1651.
  • Clare Whitehead, Power and Performance at the early Jacobean court.
  • Alexandra Chadwick, Mind, action and politics: Thinking through Hobbes
  • Signy Gutnick Allen, Crime and Punishment in the Work of Thomas Hobbes
  • Vanessa Lim, Shakespeare's Strategies of Deliberation
  • Katie Ebner-Landy, The Theophrastan Character-Sketch as moral and political philosophy.

Public Engagement


Numerous contributions to BBC talks programmes, including:

  • The Essay
  • In Our Time
  • Night Waves
  • Start the Week


Podcasts and YouTube appearances

What Intellectual History Teaches Us (link is external)

Art of Theory: interview with Teresa Bejan (link is external)

Word and Image in the Philosophy of Hobbes (link is external)

Interview with Ming Wong, Oxford Political Review (link is external) 

On Machiavelli, The Prince - Philosophy bites (link is external)

Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction (link is external)

Thomas Hobbes: Picturing the state (link is external)

A Genealogy of the State (link is external)

A Genealogy of Liberty (link is external)

Exploring the Humanities (link is external)

Talking to thinkers: Quentin Skinner (link is external)

Quentin Skinner interviewed by Alan Macfarlane: Cambridge Repository (link is external)

  • Quentin Skinner: Meaning and Understanding: The British Academy Conference 2021




  • 2008: The Bielefelder Wissenschaftspreis
  • 2007: The David Easton Award, American Political Science Association
  • 2006: The Balzan Prize
  • 2006: The Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize, British Political Studies Association
  • 2001-04: Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship
  • 2001: Officier, Palmes académiques
  • 2001: The Lippincott Award, American Political Science Association
  • 2001: The Pilkington Teaching Prize of the University of Cambridge
  • 1997: The Medal of the Collège de France
  • 1979: The Wolfson History Prize


Named Lecture Series

  • 2015: The Agnes Cuming Lectures, University College Dublin
  • 2014: The Spinoza Lectures, University of Amsterdam
  • 2013: The Academia Sinica Lectures, Taiwan
  • 2012: The Clark Lectures, Trinity College Cambridge
  • 2011: The Clarendon Lectures, University of Oxford
  • 2005: The Adorno Lectures, University of Frankfurt
  • 2005: The Robert P. Benedict Lectures, Boston University
  • 2003: The Page-Barbour Lectures, University of Virginia
  • 2003: The Ford Lectures, University of Oxford
  • 1995: The T. S. Eliot Memorial Lectures, University of Kent
  • 1984: The Tanner Lectures, Harvard University
  • 1983: The Messenger Lectures, Cornell University
  • 1980: The Carlyle Lectures, University of Oxford
  • 1980: The Gauss Seminars, Princeton University


Named Lectures

  • 2019: The Royal Danish Academy Annual Lecture in the Humanities
  • 2018: The Annual Lecture, The German Historical Institute, London
  • 2017: The Avineri Lecture, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • 2016: The Harry Camp Memorial Lecture, Stanford University
  • 2016: The J. H. Burns Lecture, the University of St Andrews
  • 2016: The Mudd Center for Ethics Lecture, Washington and Lee University
  • 2015: The Carl Schmitt Lecture, The Humboldt University, Berlin
  • 2015: The Balzan Lecture, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome
  • 2015: The Max Weber Lecture, European University Institute, Florence.
  • 2015: The Director’s Lecture, Neubauer Collegium, University of Chicago
  • 2014: The John Burrow Memorial Lecture, University of Sussex
  • 2013: The AMIAS Lecture, The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
  • 2013: The George S. Parthemos Lecture, University of Georgia
  • 2012: The T. M. Knox Memorial Lecture, University of St Andrews
  • 2012: The 1814 Lecture, University of Bergen
  • 2012: The Creighton Lecture, University of London
  • 2011: The Kantorowicz Lecture, University of Frankfurt
  • 2010: The Sheffield Lecture, University of Sheffield
  • 2010: The Roy Porter Memorial Lecture, University College London
  • 2009: The Sykes Lecture, Pembroke College Cambridge
  • 2008: The BBC History Lecture, University of London
  • 2008: The Lady Margaret Lecture, Christ’s College Cambridge
  • 2008: The Ramsay Murray Lecture, Selwyn College Cambridge
  • 2008: The Annual British Academy Lecture
  • 2008: The Una’s Lecture, University of California at Berkeley
  • 2008: The Lansdowne Lecture, University of Victoria, Canada
  • 2008: The Anson G. Phelps Lecture, New York University
  • 2008: The James A. Moffett Lecture, Princeton University
  • 2007: The Research Institute in Humanities Lecture, University of Bristol
  • 2007: The Dr. Lee Seng Tee Lecture, Wolfson College Cambridge
  • 2007: The Årets Sløk Lecture, University of Aarhus
  • 2007: The Rubinstein Lecture, Queen Mary University of London
  • 2006: The Kossmann Lecture, University of Gröningen
  • 2006: The Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture, University of Sydney
  • 2005: The Morrell Address, University of York
  • 2004: The Annual European Journal of Philosophy Lecture
  • 2003: The Lady Margaret Lecture, Christ’s College Cambridge
  • 2003: The John Coffin Memorial Lecture, University of London
  • 2001: The Isaiah Berlin Memorial Lecture, The British Academy
  • 2001: The Rowland Egger Memorial Lecture, University of Virginia
  • 2001: The Marc Bloch Lecture, École des Hautes Études, Paris
  • 2000: The Neale Lecture, University of London
  • 2000: The Henry Tudor Memorial Lecture, University of Durham
  • 2000: The Patrides Lecture, University of York
  • 2000: The John Passmore Lecture, Australian National University
  • 1999: The Lionel Trilling Seminars, Columbia University
  • 1998: The Judith Shklar Memorial Lecture, Harvard University
  • 1998: The Martin Hollis Memorial Lecture, University of East Anglia
  • 1998: The Bickley Memorial Lecture, St Hugh’s College Oxford
  • 1996: The A. B. Emden Lecture, St Edmund Hall Oxford
  • 1995: The Charlton Lecture, Warwick University
  • 1994: The F. W. Bateson Memorial Lecture, Corpus Christi College Oxford
  • 1993: The Iredell Lecture, University of Lancaster
  • 1991: The Matthew Vassar Lecture, Vassar College
  • 1991: The Hannah Arendt Lecture, University of Southampton
  • 1990: The Dawes Hicks Lecture on Philosophy, British Academy
  • 1989: The Prothero Lecture, Royal Historical Society
  • 1988: The Warrender Lecture, University of Sheffield
  • 1988: The H. L. A. Hart Memorial Lecture, University of Oxford
  • 1986: The Raleigh Lecture on History, British Academy
  • 1985: The James Ford Special Lecture, University of Oxford
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