Professor Quentin Skinner

Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities

Location ArtsTwo 3.12


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 


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.

Current PhD Students

  • Vanessa Lim – Shakespeare's Strategies of Deliberation

Postgraduate teaching

Postgraduate 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.



1. The Foundations of Modern Political Thought: Volume I: The Renaissance  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  vi + 405pp., Cambridge University Press, 1978. Translated into Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish. Turkish translation forthcoming. 

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

3 (b) Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction [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  xvi + 477pp., Cambridge University Press, 1996 Translated into Chinese, Italian, Portuguese. 

5. Liberty before Liberalism  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 , ed. Hans Blom 87pp., George Olms, Hildesheim, 2001.

7. Visions of Politics: Volume I: Regarding Method  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 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  xvii + 386pp., Cambridge University Press. Chinese and French translations forthcoming. 

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

11.Hobbes and Republican Liberty  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  62pp., Imprensa de Ciências Sociais, Lisbon, 2011.

13.. Die drei Körper des Staates 112pp., Wallstein, Göttingen, 2012.

14. La verité et l’historien , ed. Christopher Hamel 67pp., Editions EHESS, Paris, 2011.

15. Forensic Shakespeare , xii+356pp., Oxford University Press, 2014. 

Books Edited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. (Co-editor), Thomas Hobbes: Writings on Common Law and Hereditary Right  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  Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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

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

Postgraduate teaching


Honorary degrees:

  • University of Copenhagen, 2014
  • University of Oslo, 2011
  • Universidad Adolfo Ibáňez, Santiago, 2009
  • University of Aberdeen, 2007
  • University of Athens, 2007
  • University of St Andrews, 2005
  • Harvard University, 2005
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2004
  • University of Oxford, 2000
  • University of Helsinki, 1997
  • University of East Anglia, 1992
  • University of Chicago, 1992

Membership of professional associations or societies

Editorial Positions

Appearances in the media

4. Interview with Professor Alan McFarlane

5. Interview with Professor Alan McFarlane part 2

6. On the Liberty of Republics

7. A Genealogy of the State

8. So, what does freedom mean to us?

9. How Machiavellian was Machiavelli?

10. Who’s afraid of Machiavelli? 

11. Belief, Truth and Interpretation