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Milton's History of BritainRepublican Historiography in the English Revolution$
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Nicholas von Maltzahn

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198128977

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198128977.001.0001

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Milton on the Ancient Britons

Milton on the Ancient Britons

(p.91) 4 Milton on the Ancient Britons
Milton's History of Britain

Nicholas von Maltzahn

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses John Milton's writings on ancient Britons. The dispute over British history is demonstrated. Milton's early references to the British myth give it increasing political significance. In the late 1630s, his high regard for the British legends remains untroubled. In addition, Book I and Book III of the History of Britain is also described. In this book, Milton dissociates his authority as historian from the texts on which he must rely. The early Britons' lack of records shows a corresponding lack of civil virtue. Milton's History forbids any heroic interpretation of the Arthurian age. Milton's impatience with the patriotic myths indicates his growth as a reformer dedicated to the truer understanding of English history, with a historical perspective enhanced by an open-eyed view of his compatriots, ancient and modern.

Keywords:   John Milton, ancient Britons, History of Britain, Arthurian age, historian

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