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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 the Fall of England

Milton and the Fall of England

(p.384) 16 Milton and the Fall of England
Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England

Blair Worden

Oxford University Press

John Milton's England had declined so low as to betray the God-given opportunity of the revolution. The History seeks the causes of its degeneracy. It does so above all in the ‘Digression’. The ‘Digression’ is an exercise in comparative history. In the 1640s, it explains, God ‘had drawn so near a parallel’ between the state of the Britons upon the removal of the Romans. The same point is made at the start of the third book of the History, in a passage which the ‘Digression’ echoes and which calls to be read alongside it. The first book covered remote and legendary history, the second the Roman occupation. It is in Book III, which traces the collapse of the British state in the aftermath of the Roman occupation, that Milton departs most radically from conventional thinking.

Keywords:   John Milton, England, History, degeneracy, Digression, British state, Roman occupation

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