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Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England$
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Blair Worden

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199230822

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199230822.001.0001

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Milton and Cromwell

Milton and Cromwell

(p.241) 11 Milton and Cromwell
Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England

Blair Worden

Oxford University Press

The civil wars, which ended persecution by the bishops, raised, in John Milton's perspective, ‘new forcers of conscience’: ‘new presbyter’, which is ‘but old priest writ large’. At Pride's Purge the programme for a uniform and compulsory Presbyterian Church was seen off, at least for the time being. However, the Rump did not repeal the post-war legislation which had paved the way for the Presbyterian system; indeed it came within one vote of giving it its official blessing. Presbyterian influence in high places persisted. In 1652 what Milton now called ‘new foes’ to liberty of conscience rose again, when parliament considered a scheme for the ‘propagation of the gospel’. It was submitted to parliament in February, published in March, and debated through the spring. The terms were given to the bodies appointed by Oliver Cromwell to vet candidates for church livings and to remove unsatisfactory ministers from the parishes.

Keywords:   civil wars, John Milton, Pride's Purge, Presbyterian Church, liberty, conscience, Oliver Cromwell

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