Front Page Titles (by Subject) Quintin Skinner and Western Political Thought - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1979, vol. 2, No. 3
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Quintin Skinner and Western Political Thought - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1979, vol. 2, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Quintin Skinner and Western Political Thought
Review article of Quintin Skinner's The Foundations of Modern Political Thought. In Journal of the History of Ideas 40 (Oct.-Dec. 1979): 663–673.
Quintin Skinner's recent two-volume work on the development of political theory in early modern Europe is likely to achieve the status of a classic. Its stress upon resistance to the state in this period provides an important background for modern concepts of liberty, revolution, constitutionalism, and republicanism.
Skinner shows that republicanism was not the product of Renaissance humanism, as Hans Baron and others have argued, but had already emerged among the Italian city states during the Middle Ages. Also, the defense of the de facto sovereignty of the city republic by the jurist Bartolus was especially influential.
Skinner's first volume culminates in an analysis of Machiavelli, whose stress upon the role of the prince Skinner shows to be in the tradition of Italian humanism. One of the strongest features of Skinner's method is his careful presentation of the secondary writers in a given period. Instead of concentrating on a few great theorists, as many historians of political and social philosophy do, he develops the complete intellectual and cultural context in which the major theorists wrote. For example, one is in a position after reading Skinner to understand Machiavelli's true originality, by seeing how he modified the existing paradigm of political writing.
Skinner gives an elaborate treatment of resistance to the state during the sixteenth century. He shows that the Calvinist opponents of royal authority in France often relied on scholastic writers in the work; he maintains that there was no distinctively Calvinist political theory as such. Similarly, as Lutheranism developed, its devotees met the increasing opposition of the Emperor by advocating resistance by the Protestant princes to the mandates of the Imperial Diet.
Besides the tradition of constitutional resistance to authority, the sixteenth century was also characterized by the rise of absolutism. Skinner views Jean Bodin as the leading absolutist theorist, although he is careful to present the remnants of constitutionalism present in his work. Skinner regards George Buchanan as exemplifying the opposite tradition, that of resistance to political authority, to its highest degree, because of Buchanan's secular approach. It is questionable, however, whether Skinner is correct, since the Calvinist writers of the sixteenth century seem more radical.
Skinner should be commended for his use of a variety of historical sources. He at times perhaps fails to distinguish adequately between legal materials used to make a case and works of political theory.