J G A Pocock: the Antipodean’s view of Europe: John Pocock defended Britain in its broadest sense (Yuan Yi Zhu, 19 December, 2023, The Critic)

[H]e fell under the influence of Sir Herbert Butterfield, who steered him toward the history of historiography, or in other words the history of the history of history. Abstruse though it may seem to laymen, it is, as Pocock put it, nothing less than “the history of all the ways in which men have felt committed to their past”. The result was a brilliant dissertation, published as The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law: A Study of English Historical Thought in the Seventeenth Century (1957), which examined late Elizabethan and early Stuart lawyers’ belief that there existed an “ancient” constitution of England, dating from time immemorial and therefore immune from interference by the king’s prerogative, not unlike how modern academic lawyers insist that judicial review can never be ousted by Parliament. […]

But it was not long before Pocock made his mark on America. In The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (1975), he deftly chartered the influence of early modern republican thought of Florence, typified by Machiavelli, and of its preoccupation with how to maintain civic virtue against the inevitability of decay, on English republicans and American revolutionaries. The American Revolution and the framing of the republican constitution were, to Pollock, “the last act of the civic Renaissance”.