Leviathan Against the City Commonwealth

Jonathon Matthew Hoye

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Thomas Hobbes tends to be read through the lens of the nation-state. Recently, historians of urban politics have shown that borough politics were essential elements of the British politics, culminating in the civil wars. The purpose of this article is to contextualize the developments in Hobbes's political theory within that urban history. Against the widespread interpretation that Hobbes's theory of the state in Leviathan responds only to the ideology of national popular sovereignty, I argue that it also amounts to an assault on the practices of urban republican politics. To make my case, I triangulate the theory of the state in Leviathan using European ideological, local historical and textual coordinates. This perspective affords new insights into Hobbes's understanding of democracy, republicanism, popular sovereignty and the state.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)419-449
Number of pages31
JournalHistory of Political Thought
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


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