Dr Max Skjönsberg

Dr Max Skjönsberg

PhD Alumnus

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Key Expertise
History of Ideas, Enlightenment, Early Modern Europe

About me

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.

Thesis title

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.

Expertise Details

Intellectual History; History of Political Thought; History of Ideas; Long Eighteenth Century in Britain; Enlightenment; Early-Modern Europe; Political History; History of Literature; History of Historiography; Political Theory


Papers & Talks

  • “The Debate about Instructions and Mandate Representation in the Walpole Era”, at ‘”Parliaments and Popular Sovereignty” Conference, People’s History Museum, Manchester, 3-4 November, 2017.
  • “Hume and the Eighteenth-Century Party Debate”, at the 113th Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA), San Francisco, CA, USA, 30 Aug-3 Sep 2017.
  • “Hume on Party Systems of Thought and their Consequences for Allegiance to Government”, at the 44th International Hume Conference, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA, 17-21 July 2017.
  • “David Hume’s ‘Of the Liberty of the Press’ (1741) in its Original Context”, at the “Freedom of Speech, ca. 1550–1850” Conference at Ohio University, Athens, OH, USA, 7-8 April 2017.
  • “The Septennial Act of 1716 and Eighteenth-Century Toryism”, at the Early-Career Workshop in the History of Political Thought 1600-1800, Institute of Philosophy at KU Leuven, Belgium, 20-21 February 2017.
  • “Conflict and partisanship in Adam Ferguson’s social and political thought” at the Ninth Annual Cambridge Graduate Conference in Political Thought & Intellectual History, 13 May 2016.
  • "Adam Ferguson’s reading of Montesquieu on Party Conflict in Roman and European Contexts” at the 2016 Conference of the International Society for Intellectual History, University of Crete, Rethymnon, Greece, 3-5 May 2016.
  • “Political journalism in the Age of Walpole: the Case of Bolingbroke” at Words Matter, a Literary Festival arranged by jointly by the Literature Society and the History Society at LSE, 1 March 2016. (Invited speaker.)
  • “Adam Ferguson on Partisanship and Party Conflict” at the 45th Annual Conference of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS), St. Hughe’s College, Oxford, 6-8 January 2016.
  • “Lord Bolingbroke’s Theory of Party and Opposition” at the Inaugural Postgraduate Conference in Early Modern Intellectual History at Newcastle University, 18-19 June 2015.


  • LSE Studentship 2014-2018


  • The Martin Abel Gonzalez Prize and Highly Commended Class Teacher, LSE Class Teacher Awards, 2017.
  • The Hume Society Young Scholar Award, 2017.
  • Recipient of the PhD Scholarship from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, Virginia, 2016.
  • Recipient of the Skinner Prize for first place in the University of London MA in the History of Political Thought in 2013