Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Harrington, James

Born: 7 January 1611, Upton, Northamptonshire
Died: 11 September 1677, London
  • Alessandro ArienzoEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_502-1


A political theorist, James Harrington expressed his ideas in his The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656), a constitutional utopia through which he drafted institutional and political principles meant to guarantee social and political stability. According to Harrington, political systems are somehow dependent on the distribution of property among the people and if property is in the hands of the many, stability will thus require a republican form of government. Harrington aspiration was to set up the principles of a new “art of lawgiving” based on the equal and balanced distribution of property, orders, and offices that is deemed to be the true reason of the states.


Political System True Reason Trinity College Political Stability Political Theorist 
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Primary Literature

  1. Harrington, James. 1977. In The political works of James Harrington, ed. J.G.A. Pocock. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  1. Blitzer, Charles. 1960. An immortal commonwealth: The political thought of James Harrington. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Campos Boralevi, Lea. 2012. James Harrington’s ‘Machiavellian’ anti-machiavellism. History of European Ideas 37(2): 113–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fink, Zera Silver 19621945. The classical republicans: An essay in the recovery of a pattern of thought in seventeenth century England, 2nd ed. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Pocock, John Greville Agard. 1975. The Machiavellian moment. Florentine republican thought and the atlantic republican tradition. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
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  8. Russell Smith, Hugh Francis. 1914. Harrington and his Oceana: A study of a seventeenth century Utopia and its influence in America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesUniversità degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”NaplesItaly