In this article the author examines the way in which concepts of citizenship and rights have been transmitted not only by conquest, but also by the imitation of Greek and Roman models. Also, the article discusses the way in which early modern empires, modelling themselves on the classical Roman empire in particular, bring these two elements together. Extensive historiographical work on the reception of European thought in the New World has been produced on both sides of the Atlantic and some important contributions that deal with the impact of the New World encounters in European thought have recently been made. However, the author argues that little work has been done on classical modelling as a vehicle for the transmission of concepts. The long tradition of classical learning, revived in the European Renaissance, made Latin the lingua franca of Europe, and school curricula across Europe ensured that members of the Republic of Letters were exposed to the same texts. This, together with the serviceability of the Roman model as a manual for Empire, ensured the rapid transmission of classical republican and imperial ideas. The author takes England and the British Empire as a case study and provides a variety of examples of classical modelling.