Max Skjönsberg works on concepts of political party in eighteenth-century discourse. His research interests incorporate a contextual reading of thinkers such as Lord Bolingbroke, David Hume, Adam Ferguson, Edmund Burke, and others.
Dr Skjönsberg holds an MA in the History of Political Thought from University College London and Queen Mary University London (2013) and a BA in Contemporary History from Queen Mary and City University (2012). On 11 April 2018, Mr Skjönsberg’s thesis was recommended for the award of a doctoral degree with no corrections.
Internecine Discord: Party, Religion and History in Hanoverian Britain, c.1714-1765
My thesis is a study of the place of ‘party’ and different ways of understanding this phenomenon in eighteenth-century British political discourse, especially between 1714 and 1765. Party is one of the most basic concepts of politics. If we are looking for party in any form, the idea of partisan division may be at least as old as the earliest societies where there was competition for office. But what did ‘party’ mean in the eighteenth century? While ancient factions usually denoted interest groups representing different orders in the state, party in the eighteenth century had a range of meanings, some general and others more specific. Broadly speaking, it could either mean a parliamentary constellation vying for power, or carry the more sinister connotation of civil war-like division, with roots in the Reformation and its aftermath. In spite of the fact that the emphasis was on principles and beliefs rather than organisation in both cases, modern historians have tended to focus on the latter. The party debate was considered by political writers at the time to be profoundly important, and political life in the period simply cannot be understood without reference to party. Although ‘party spirit’ waxed and waned, ‘party’ was consistently a key word in political debate. By concentrating on the writings of Rapin, Bolingbroke, David Hume, John Brown, and Edmund Burke, in the context of political developments, my thesis presents the first sustained examination of the idea of party in eighteenth-century Britain. Engaging with a number of important historiographical themes - including the ‘long’ Reformation, the ‘long’ eighteenth century, and the nature of the post-revolutionary fiscal-military state in Britain, and especially the nature of the Whig-Hanover axis after 1714 – this project demonstrates that attitudes towards party were more diverse, penetrating and balanced than previous research has managed to capture.