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"Nothing nobler then a free Commonwealth": Milton's Later Vernacular Republican Tracts

Keeble N (2009) "Nothing nobler then a free Commonwealth": Milton's Later Vernacular Republican Tracts. In: McDowell N & Smith N (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Milton. Oxford Handbooks of Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 305-324.

First paragraph: ‘Cromwell, our chief of men’:2 in the early 1650s Milton shared with a large body of radical and republican opinion in England an admiration for Oliver Cromwell as the agent of religious and political transformation. ‘Brave’ Cromwell, the conqueror of Ireland, had figured in the Defence of the English People of 1651 (4.1:458), and in the Second Defence of 1654, in which Milton takes the insult that he is ‘“worse than Cromwell”’ as ‘the highest praise you could bestow on me’ (4.1:595), the Lord Protector is famously eulogised as the one man upon whom the state depends (4.1:666-72). 3 Thereafter, however, Milton kept his counsel. His silence on the occasion of Cromwell’s death on 3 September 1658, and, apparently, for the four preceding years, has exercised commentators concerned to determine whether Milton’s earlier laudatory view of Cromwell survived the experience of the Protector’s later rule, with its Privy Council, second chamber indistinguishable from a House of Lords, courtly etiquette and increasingly monarchical characteristics. Though some have held that it did,4 the prevailing view has been that Milton’s silence betokens disillusion.5

Milton, John; Republicanism; Restoration; Prose tracts; English literature Early modern, 1500-1700 History and criticism; Royalists in literature; Milton, John, 1608-1674 Political and social views; Republicanism Great Britain History 17th century

Author(s)Keeble, Neil
Title of seriesOxford Handbooks of Literature
Publication date31/12/2009
PublisherOxford University Press
Publisher URL…rtby=bestMatches
Place of publicationNew York
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