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By Quentin Skinner

This prolonged essay via one of many world's prime historians seeks, in its first half, to excavate, and to vindicate, the neo-Roman thought of loose electorate and loose states because it built in early-modern Britain. This research leads directly to a strong defence of the character, reasons and ambitions of highbrow heritage and the heritage of principles. As Quentin Skinner says, 'the highbrow historian may also help us to understand how a ways the values embodied in our current lifestyle, and our current methods of considering these values, replicate a sequence of selections made at diversified instances among assorted attainable worlds'. This essay offers probably the most large statements but made in regards to the value, relevance and power pleasure of this manner of ancient enquiry. Liberty sooner than Liberalism relies on Quentin Skinner's Inaugural Lecture as Regius Professor of contemporary historical past within the collage of Cambridge, introduced in 1997.

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86 8 7 88 28 Copyrighted material The neo-roman theory of free states each individual citizen. As Harrington puts it, 'the people, taken apart, are but so many private interests, but if you take them together they are the public interest'. Nor are they so naive as to assume that we can always - or even very frequently - expect these wills and interests to converge on any one outcome. Rather they assume that, when we speak about the will of the people, we must in effect be referring to the will of the majority.

34, p. 514. 23 Copyrighted material Liberty before liberalism writers is to vindicate 'the excellency of a free state'. The clue to understanding what these writers mean by predicating freedom of entire communities lies in recognising that they treat as seriously as possible the ancient metaphor of the body politic. 73 Nedham opens The Excellency of a Free State by comparing 'motions in bodies natural' with those in bodies civil, and repeatedly speaks of the body of the people' and 'the whole body of a commonweal'.

For the clearest statement among the writers I am considering of the idea that the people may have to be force d'etre libre, see Milton 1980, esp. p. 455. [Osborne] 1811, p. 163. 33 Copyrighted material Liberty before liberalism supreme power of the nation', while Milton never ceased to thunder out the same message. We still find him proclaiming as late as 1660 that a free Commonwealth without single person or house of lords, is by far the best government', and thus that in England the House of Commons constitutes 'the only true representatives of the people, and thir libertie'.

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