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Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century England and the Making of the Modern Political Imaginary$
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Feisal G. Mohamed

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198852131

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198852131.001.0001

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Milton’s Unitary Sovereignty

Milton’s Unitary Sovereignty

Chapter:
(p.91) 3 Milton’s Unitary Sovereignty
Source:
Sovereignty: Seventeenth-Century England and the Making of the Modern Political Imaginary
Author(s):

Feisal G. Mohamed

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198852131.003.0004

This chapter complicates the received image of Milton as firebrand republican, showing a consistent sympathy in his thought with “red” unitary sovereignty. That sympathy displays itself differently at different points in his career, from an early acceptance of royal prerogative in the Ludlow Maske, to mid-career arguments for the sovereignty of Parliament, to a late godly republicanism anticipating the rule of a spiritual elect. Illumining these developments of Milton’s thought are, respectively, the precarity of the Council in the Marches of Wales, of which Milton’s patron the Earl of Bridgewater was president; a Tacitist approach to liberty and prudentia; and the manuscript writings of Sir Henry Vane, the younger, which include a lengthy commentary on the Book of Job. In closing, the role of the “people” in popular sovereignty is considered, as the category appears in Milton and in Schmitt.

Keywords:   John Milton, Maske, Comus, Council in the Marches of Wales, Tacitus, Sir Henry Vane, people

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