The formation of the modern state, the rise of capitalism, the Renaissance and Reformation, the scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment - all these have been credited to the "early modern" period. Nearly everything about its history remains controversial, but one thing is certain: it left a rich and provocative legacy of political ideas unmatched in Western history. Ideas of liberty, equality, property, human rights and revolution born into those turbulent centuries continue to shape, and to limit, political discourse today. From Machiavelli, Luther and Calvin to Spinoza, the Levellers, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, Meiksins Wood vividly explores the ideas of the canonical thinkers, not as philosophical abstractions but as passionately engaged responses to the social conflicts of their day.
ELLEN MEIKSINS WOOD is the author of a number of books, including The Pristine Culture of Capitalism, Peasant-Citizen and Slave, The Origin of Capitalism, Empire of Capital and the first of her multi-volume social history of political thought, Citizens to Lords: A Social History of Western Political Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.