Phil Withington

Phil Withington’s most recent book is Society in Early Modern England: The Vernacular Origins of Some Powerful Ideas.

Modernity’s Bodyguard: Hobbes

Phil Withington, 3 January 2013

Four historians in a Cambridge bar, c.1998: one literary, a second legal, the third political, and the fourth a social historian. All specialise in the 16th and 17th centuries. The social historian, desperate for something to say, asks: ‘So who’s the most important writer of the early modern period?’ Without hesitation the legal and political historians reply, in unison:...

Societies, it is sometimes said, get the politics they deserve. Can the same be said for their history? If contemporary Britain is anything to go by then the short answer is probably yes. Certainly, something happened to British history in general, and the history of 17th-century Britain in particular, when I was growing up. I remember, as a teenager in the 1980s, if not quite lying ‘in...

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