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date: 25 June 2019

Introduction: Critical Framework and Issues

Abstract and Keywords

This introductory article first sets out the purpose of this book, which is to expand the range of texts normally considered under the rubric of the literary to include cookery books and conversion narratives, prophecy and political theory, polemical prose and dramatic dialogue. The book examines not only the political and religious ideas but the imaginative and aesthetic qualities of writings from the republicanism of James Harrington and Marchamont Nedham, to the royalism of Thomas Hobbes, to the radical formulations of Gerrard Winstanley, John Lilburne, Abiezer Coppe, Anna Trapnel, and Margaret Fell. The article then discusses the literature of the English Revolution; the definition of ‘literature’ in considering literature and the English Revolution; the impact of printed texts on public opinion; and the readers of printed texts in the 1640s and 1650s. The organization and structure of this book is also described.

Keywords: English Revolution, literature, public opinion, readers

William Dobson's portrait of Charles II as a 12‐year‐old Prince of Wales (Figure I.1) exudes the elegance and authority of the van Dyck courtly portraiture upon which it draws, adapted to a wartime setting.1 The three‐quarters‐length portrait shows the Prince dressed in a breastplate over a buff coat, with white satin sleeves and red breeches decorated with gold braid. He wears a crimson royalist sash and holds a commander's baton in his right hand; his left hand is placed upon a gold‐trimmed helmet, held up by a page. The resplendent light and the gold, silver, and crimson colouring, the massive pillar and the imposing draperies, and the Prince's direct gaze and central, forward position underscore his royal authority. The visually striking portrait exemplifies a masculine, martial mode, with the accoutrements of page, baton, and armour.

One of the portraits done in wartime Oxford, to which King Charles I and his court had retreated, the Dobson portrait is traditionally thought to be commemorating the Prince's experience of the first major battle of the English Civil Wars, the Battle of Edgehill (near Banbury) between royalist troops under Charles I and his nephew Prince Rupert and parliamentarian forces under the Earl of Essex on 23 October 1642.2 The left‐hand background of the portrait shows a cavalry battle under a high sky, while the crowded lower left foreground shows a pile of weapons and colours captured in the battle, along with a severed Medusa's head that evinces the horrors of rebellion while also showing its defeat. The portrait thus transmutes into visual form royalist confidence and even bravura, the accomplishment of an initial (claimed) victory.

IntroductionCritical Framework and IssuesClick to view larger

figure I.1 William Dobson, Charles II (When Prince of Wales, with a Page), Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Yet the Medusa head, unlike the captured weapons and colours, remains sentient, almost grotesquely so, with a glassy stare of the bulging eyes, open mouth, and hair of vivified snakes that move outward toward the viewer. The Medusa's downward gaze (p. 2) breaks the triangular composition, which otherwise would pull the viewer's eye back to the Prince, as in the case of the page who gazes upward. It is virtually impossible to focus on the Prince and the Medusa at the same time. Far from confirming the royalist victory and parliamentarian defeat, the Medusa head startles and unsettles the viewer, disrupting the visual focus and the painting's celebration of royal prowess.

Indeed, both sides claimed victory at Edgehill: the very inconclusiveness of the battle prompted an outpouring of texts and images that competed for and sought to sway public opinion. The first major battle of the war shocked people into the realization that this would be a costly, protracted, and hard‐fought struggle: that parliamentary forces would not spare the King's person on the battlefield. The military inconclusiveness made the propaganda contest even more important, and a range of texts—newsbooks, pamphlets, letters, printed speeches, proclamations, and sermons—addressed the Battle of Edgehill, alongside visual images such as Dobson's and public performances such as the King's triumphal entry into Oxford. The dispute over the Battle of Edgehill is an early instance of the new and newly politicized genres, rhetoric, and language that (p. 3) would constitute a revolution in print and literature broadly conceived from 1640 to 1660. Dobson's portrait provides a window into art and literature as emerging from but also responding to the political, religious, and social upheaval of the English Revolution.

Since the 1990s, a stream of monographs, essay collections, and journal articles (including work by the contributors to this volume) has challenged the old literary historical canard that 1640–60 was a lost era, with theatres closed, court poets dying or in exile, the epic in abeyance, the Muses fled. Rather, both historians and literary scholars have examined how literary genres were created or transformed, how republicanism took an aesthetic form, how polemic writers infused their texts with rhetorical flair and literary emplotment, and how radicals and royalists alike drew on the powers of imagination to mythologize civil war and redefine the meaning of England.3 This volume takes the measure of that energetic and innovative criticism, as well as gesturing toward future research paths.

The rubric of the English Revolution allows us to consider a broad range of royalist and republican writings, high and low forms, new and revised genres. We will trace a trajectory of radicalization in history and literary history. Thinking about literature and the English Revolution brings challenges as well as opportunities for students and scholars in both literature and history. Following recent scholarship, this Handbook will expand the range of texts normally considered under the rubric of the literary to include cookery books and conversion narratives, prophecy and political theory, polemical prose and dramatic dialogue. We will examine not only the political and religious ideas but the imaginative and aesthetic qualities of writings from the republicanism of James Harrington and Marchamont Nedham, to the royalism of Thomas Hobbes, to the radical formulations of Gerrard Winstanley, John Lilburne, Abiezer Coppe, Anna Trapnel, and Margaret Fell. Our Handbook chapters look not only at the articulation of political values, but at how shared literary affiliations and values cross differing political positions.

At the same time, canonical literary genres and authors will be brought into new conversations and juxtapositions, showing how literary genres such as lyric and narrative poetry, drama, and prose fiction respond to the pressures of revolutionary times. A range of well‐ and now‐lesser‐known literary authors—Sir John Denham, Richard Lovelace, Edmund Waller, Robert Herrick, Henry Vaughan, William Davenant, Percy Herbert, John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Samuel Butler, John Dryden, Lucy Hutchinson, Margaret Cavendish, and John Bunyan—will be examined in new contexts, highlighting aspects of their work particularly important in the context of revolution, as well as attending to their aesthetic, lyric, dramatic, and narrative achievements. Such re‐examination of the literary aspects of a wide range of writing, and of the political genesis of high literature, can in turn shed new light on historiographical questions regarding the events of mid‐seventeenth‐century England.

Our exploration of contexts, texts, authors, and genres shows that literature is not constrained but generated by civil war. Rather than a lull, the 1640s and 1650s in England evince a flourishing of political writing and of new forms and uses of lyric and narrative poetry, epic, drama, and romance. Indeed, there could be an inverse (p. 4) relation between political success and literary achievement. That some of the most imaginative and influential texts came from moments of crisis and defeat ensured that after 1660, the literary impact of the Civil Wars, regicide, and republic would continue, even flourish, not only in royalist recuperations but in ongoing oppositional discourse.4

Our volume ends, then, not at 1660 with the return of the monarchy, but with texts written in the 1660s and 1670s that continue to show the cultural impact of the mid‐century change. The break at 1660 makes sense only in the most narrow constitutionalist terms, as legislatively the clock was turned back to 1641, retaining the changes agreed to by Charles I after the initial parliamentary effort to curb the abuses of Personal Rule. Yet in religion and culture, and in the nature and role of popular politics and print, the mid‐century crisis had an ongoing impact, and the legacy of the 1640s and 1650s continued. Indeed, some recent scholars have suggested that the energies released in the 1640s provided the impetus for a long revolution, stretching through the Exclusion Crisis of 1678–81 (in which the alleged threat of a ‘Popish Plot’ against Charles II led to attempted legislation to exclude the Catholic James, Duke of York, from the throne) and the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688–9, which brought about the exile of James II and the accession of William and Mary.5 Our Handbook thus not only expands the range of texts considered literary and newly considers the political uses of literary texts, but also rethinks how the impact of revolutionary literature continued long after the return of the King.

This Handbook aims for a broad audience of advanced students and scholars in literature and in political, religious, and cultural history. The chapters discuss both primary texts and secondary scholarship, giving a sense of current debate and charting avenues for future research. In doing so, contributors examine the revolutionary nature of the events in mid‐seventeenth‐century England and explicate their long‐term cultural significance. It is hoped that such a broad view and reassessment will be of use both in research and in the classroom, for scholars and students alike.

Debating the English Revolution

What do we mean by the English Revolution and, by extension, the literature of the English Revolution? How is the rubric of ‘English Revolution’ useful in considering the writings that emerged in the 1640s, 1650s, and 1660s? And, in turn, how does understanding literary production and the aesthetic qualities of polemical texts contribute to an understanding of political, religious, economic, and social change? Under any rubric, the years 1640–60 evinced a maelstrom of change and upheaval: war between England and Scotland, two civil wars in England, the public trial and execution of the King, disestablishment of episcopacy, abolition of monarchy and of the House of Lords, continuing wars in Ireland and Scotland, and new institutions and political structures.6 From the Council of State and Rump Parliament that ruled the English (p. 5) republic 1649–53, to Oliver Cromwell's dissolution of the Rump, the brief tenure of a nominated ‘godly’ Parliament, the first and second Protectorates under Oliver Cromwell, the brief succession of Richard Cromwell, and months of near‐chaos after Richard's forced resignation before Charles II was welcomed back, the Three Kingdoms of England, Ireland, and Scotland saw political, religious, economic, and social change and transformation. Most pertinent to our interest, such upheaval prompted an explosion in the printed word and image.

Contrary to common assumptions, ‘revolution’ and ‘revolutions’ were contemporary, if hotly contested, terms for describing the events in England from 1640 to 1660.7 When Oliver Cromwell sent his first Protectoral Parliament packing in January 1655, disappointed in their unwillingness to accept the Instrument of Government by which the new regime had been established and in their lack of legislative progress, he rebuked them by holding up a standard of divinely guided revolution. Objecting to critics who claimed that ‘It is an easie thing to talk of necessities when men create necessities; would not the Lord Protector make Himself great, and his Family great? doth not He make these necessities?’,8 Cromwell waxed eloquent on the divine agent behind revolution in England:

And I say this, not only to this Assembly, but to the World, that that man liveth not, that can come to me, and charge me that I have in these great Revolutions made necessities; I challenge even all that fear God; And as God hath said, My glory I will not give unto another, Let men take heed, and be twice advised, how they call his Revolutions, the things of God, and his working of things from one Period to another, how I say, they call them necessities of mens creation, for by so doing, they do vilifie and lessen the works of God, and rob him of his Glory, which he hath said, he will not give unto another, nor suffer to be taken from him. (29)

Cromwell appeals to divine agency behind the events of mid‐seventeenth‐century England to chastise nay‐sayers. And he warns ominously that ‘God knoweth what he will do with men when they shall call His Revolutions, humane Designs, and so detract from his Glory’ (29). Bundled back off to their provinces, however, the MPs might well have differed from Cromwell's definition of God's ‘Revolutions’ and particularly its indirect endorsement of his own actions. Rather, they might have agreed with an early Leveller critique (later a full‐blown attack on Cromwell the Machiavel), that ‘You shall scarce speak to Crumwell about anything, but he will lay his hand on his breast, elevate his eyes, and call God to record, he will weep, howl and repent, even while he doth smite you under the first rib.’9

Regardless of its immediate effectiveness, Cromwell's impassioned speech nonetheless shows that the idea of revolution as change and upheaval, not simply as a natural cycle or return, was, in fact, contemporary with the events of mid‐seventeenth‐century England. Indeed, the language of revolution was both powerful and contested, appearing in texts by both royalists and ‘roundheads’, and in genres from political theory to radical religious writings to fictional romance.

Cromwell might well have drawn the language of revolution from a text that he recommends in his parliamentary speech, Marchamont Nedham's The Case of the (p. 6) Common‐wealth of England, Stated.10 Writing after the regicide to defend the new republic, Nedham drew upon a more traditional definition of ‘revolution’ as natural rotation or circularity. And yet his use of the term boldly undergirds the de facto power in England, a power whose rise is presented as part of a natural process. Nedham's first chapter examines the proposition ‘that Governments have their Revolutions and fatall Periods’ (1), part of a broader natural process of growth, perfection, and dissolution. For Nedham, the historical ‘Rise and Revolutions’ of various governments point to the basic principle ‘That the Power of the Sword is, and ever hath been the Foundation of all Titles to Government’ (6). History also shows, Nedham argues, that ‘the People never presumed to spurne at those Powers [of the sword], but (for publique Peace and quiet) paid a patient submission to them, under their various Revolutions’ (16). The lesson for England is clear.

Significantly, Nedham evinces a heightened sense of Englishness and of the moral imperatives facing England itself that can be seen elsewhere with uses of the language of revolution. From republicans to religious radicals, the language of revolution enabled a rethinking and reimagining of the English nation and its identity. Indeed, the language of revolution became an important tool for advocating social, political, economic, and religious change.

But interest in the term ‘revolution’ was by no means restricted to radical writers. Rather, the language of revolution was labile, shifting, and contested. If, after the Restoration, Quaker William Smith saw the change in rulers as a cyclical turn that showed the vanity of human pretensions—‘And now the Revolution is gone about, and that which was out of sight is come up, and that which was above is gone down and over‐shadowed; so vain a thing is man before his Maker’11—the staunchly royalist clergyman Thomas Pierce hailed the King's return as ‘our late happy revolution’.12 While the Quaker Smith urged repentance for present sin—‘Oh England! thou art traced thorow,…and thou art found to be exceeding wicked in thy heart, and exceeding vain in thy imaginations’ (7)—Pierce lauded a ‘Revolution, by which we all are transported with joy, and wonder’ (11).

Debate over the term ‘revolution’ not only characterized the seventeenth‐century crisis itself, but has long been part of historiography. Multiple questions mark this debate. What caused the events of the mid‐seventeenth century in England, Ireland, and Scotland? Were the causes and effects long‐term and structural or short‐term and contingent? Was this a revolution or a rebellion? Was it driven primarily by class, religion, politics, or economics? How much weight must be placed on a functional breakdown in the Three Kingdoms? To what extent can we frame a narrative in England alone or speak of an ‘English’ revolution? In the broadest terms, Civil War historiography has moved from Marxist and Whiggish teleologies of long‐term structural breakdown and consequences, to a ‘revisionist’ challenge emphasizing consensus and short‐term triggers of occasion and personality, as well as the centrality of civil wars fought within the three Stuart kingdoms and the importance of relations between them.13 Most pertinent to our volume, ‘post‐revisionist’ scholarship has turned to religious, cultural, and ideological differences and to print and political culture more (p. 7) broadly.14 As such, the idea of revolution has been recovered and redefined in cultural terms.

The prolific and influential work of long‐time Oxford don and historian Christopher Hill shaped the scholarly discussion of literature and the English Revolution not despite but because of revisionist challenges to Marxist and Whig teleology. Having begun with a Marxist framework, Hill eventually retreated from his early formulation of a ‘bourgeois’ revolution that paved the way for capitalism. But Hill never gave up on the idea of revolution. Rather, by vastly expanding the scope of the political, forging connections between social ideas, religion, economics, and literary texts, Hill turned to a broader cultural revolution. Hill found revolutionary ideas and impulses in the radical nature of Puritanism; in plebeian thinkers; and in literature itself, especially as it implicitly encoded dissent under conditions of repression and censorship.15 Highly influential on literary scholars was Hill's view that ‘there was a revolution in English literature’ as well as in science, politics, economics, and society.16

With the expansion of scholarly focus from high politics to a broader political sphere and from the legal processes of Westminster and Whitehall to a more broadly conceived political culture, the concept of ‘revolution’ has taken on new life. In the past two decades, both historians and literary scholars have refined and built upon this expansion of the political to include the literary, bringing new attention to genre, aesthetics, literary convention and texture, print history, and the history of readership. Drawing upon this scholarship, and while acknowledging the Scottish and Irish impetus to and ongoing experience of the Civil Wars, this volume tells the story of literature and revolution in mid‐seventeenth‐century England.

Literature and Revolution

How do we define ‘literature’ in considering literature and the English Revolution? First, explicit consideration under the broad rubric of the English Revolution is appropriate and productive because so much of the writing not only reacted to the events of 1640 to 1660 but used rhetorical modes and literary techniques to do so. The English Revolution challenges us to expand our idea of the literary, to consider the breadth and range of texts, change and continuity, and (as we shall see) increased radicalization over time. Under the rubric of the English Revolution, scholars have explored the literary merit and use of a number of genres, from prophecy to political prose to conversion narratives. The ‘literature’ of the English Revolution can first be broadly defined as writing chronologically of this period, including writing directly or indirectly on the subject of the revolutionary times.

Literature defined as belles‐lettres, writings in canonical literary genres or drawing on the principal classical texts of polite or humane learning, is also relevant to consideration of literature and the English Revolution. We can see how canonical texts were not above the pressures of their time. Whether directly addressing the (p. 8) conflict or not, literature registers the pressures, upheaval, freedoms, and promise of mid‐century change, while also transmuting and going beyond the historical moment. The rubric of literature and the English Revolution thus brings together canonical and non‐canonical texts and authors under a broadened definition of the political, aligning literary writing with other kinds of cultural production, while also recognizing its distinctive linguistic play, narrative power, and aesthetic achievement.

Writings on the Battle of Edgehill, the event commemorated in the Dobson portrait of Prince Charles with which we began, offer an apt example of how political tracts deploy literary techniques and literary genres are politicized. The very characteristics that frustrated early military historians on Edgehill prove valuable for a study of literature and the English Revolution. Seeking to determine the most basic facts of the battle, e.g. the number of regiments and troops of horse and dragoons, which regiments took part in the fighting, how the two armies were drawn up, what tactics they employed, and the numbers of those killed, wounded, and captured, early military historians bemoaned the plethora of inconsistent and contradictory texts.17 Yet these inconsistencies often stem from materials rich for literary analysis: constructions of protagonist, plot, character, and theme, as well as rhetorical devices and legitimating languages, deployed for political ends.

As evinced by their titles, early parliamentary accounts of Edgehill grounded their legitimacy on an appeal to the truth. Yet it is precisely in their straying from facts and figures that the accounts are most rhetorically powerful. An Exact and True Relation (28 October 1642), sent from six parliamentary officers to John Pym in the Commons, opens with a divine protagonist, taking the ‘first occasion’ to ‘declare [God's] goodnesse, in giving so great a blessing as he hath now done to the resolute and unwearyed endeavours of our Souldiers, fighting for him in the maintenance of his truth, and for themselves and their Country, in defence of their Liberties, and the Priviledges of Parliament’.18 The appeal to divine agency and shared values (country, liberties, and the privileges of Parliament) allows the writers to gain legitimacy, buttress their political identity, and occlude the bloody indeterminacy of this first protracted battle. Rather than dwelling on hunger and pain, wounded men dying of cold in the night, unburied corpses, frightened runaways, and a cessation of battle from sheer exhaustion, they offer ‘a Narration of a blessed Victory which God hath given us upon the Army of the Cavaliers’ (3). Similarly, A Full and True Relation of the Great Battle (4 November), written by Captain Edward Kightley, frames its narrative with a title‐page Bible verse, ‘Judges 5.31. So let all thine enemies perish O Lord, but let them that love him, be as the Sun when he goeth forth in his might.’19 The text intersperses its account of human action—infantry and cavalry charges, troops running away, the capture of the royal standard, and heaps of slain enemies—with attribution of victory to the divine: ‘God did give the victory to us’ (4) or ‘It was Gods wonderfull worke that wee had the victory’ (6). Eight Speeches Spoken in Guildhall combines appeal to the divine with turning the language of ridicule back against the enemies of Parliament. Master Strode asserts that ‘as God did this great worke, and we ascribe to him the honour, so you will looke upon the persons by whom he did it…these were the men that were ignominiously (p. 9) reproached by the name of Round‐heads, and by these Round‐heads did God shew himself a most glorious God’.20

Royalist accounts of Edgehill, though fewer in number, deploy similar legitimizing languages and literary devices to claim victory for their own side and to stigmatize their opponents. In pre‐battle speeches to his lords and captains, Charles I swears to ‘maintaine and defend the Protestant Religion, the Rights and Priviledges of the Parliament, and the Liberties of the Subject’.21 For the King, divine bestowal of victory will attest to the rightness of his cause: ‘Let Heaven shew his power by this days victory to declare me just, and as a lawfull so a loving King to my subjects’ (3). Speaking to the soldiers, the King embraces the terms of opprobrium, as did the Parliament in adducing a God of the ‘Round‐heads’. Given that they are ‘called Cavaliers in a reproachfull signification and ye are all designed for the slaughter if you do not manfully behave yourselves in this Battell’ (5), the King urges his men to ‘shew your selves, therefore now couragious Cavaliers, and beat backe all opprobrious speeches and aspersions cast upon you by the Enemy’ (5). Of course, the royalist soldiers needed to beat back much more than ‘opprobrious speeches’, but weaponry, wounds, and casualties are largely elided. A Prayer of thanks giving for his Majesties late Victory over the Rebells likewise credits the divine for the King's proclaimed victory, turning its gaze away from the carnage of battle: ‘O Thou God of Hosts, who goest forth with our Armies, and pleadest the cause of thine Anoynted against them that strive with Him…it is thy Hand alone that hath dispos’d of Victory to thy Servant the King, that hath covered his Head in the day of Battaile, and hath kept His Crown from being thrown down to the ground.’22 Despite opposed views of who had won the battle, royalists and parliamentarians thus shared the use of literary devices of plot and character, as well as powerful religious language, to deflect the horrors of battle and mobilize support.

In the aftermath of Edgehill, John Milton even more fully deployed literary resources, as London itself braced for attack by the King's army, and parliamentary declarations adjured the people to be ready to defend themselves.23 Waiting in the panic‐stricken city, Milton composed a sonnet, ostensibly a paper to be pinned to the door of his house in Aldersgate Street. The sonnet's opening octave appealed directly to the expected royalist invader:

  • Captain or Colonel, or Knight in Arms,
  • Whose chance on these defenceless dores may sease,
  • If ever deed of honour did thee please,
  • Guard them, and him within protect from harms,
  • He can requite thee, for he knows the charms
  • That call Fame on such gentle acts as these,
  • And he can spred thy Name o’er Lands and Seas,
  • What ever clime the Suns bright circle warms.24

While parliamentary propaganda depicted royalist soldiers as papists, marauding plunderers, and potential rapists,25 Milton boldly appropriates and reworks the Italian sonnet, métier of Petrarch, Dante, and Tasso, to address not a beloved lady, but a (p. 10) royalist soldier, metamorphized from ‘Captain or Colonel’ to an honour‐bound ‘Knight in Arms’. Here, the expected ‘charms’ of the lady in the sonnet tradition are transmuted to the charms (incantations) of the poet's verse. ‘Fame’ comes not from deeds of war but from ‘gentle’ acts and the voice of the poet.

The sestet of Milton's sonnet flatters and mythologizes both poet and royalist commander with a double analogy to ancient and heroic Greece:

  • Lift not thy spear against the Muses Bowre,
  • The great Emathian Conqueror bid spare
  • The house of Pindarus, when Temple and Towre
  • Went to the ground: And the repeated air
  • Of sad Electra's Poet had the power
  • To save th’Athenian Walls from ruine bare.

According to Plutarch, when Alexander the Great sacked the city of Thebes, he instructed his soldiers not to destroy the house of the poet Pindar; similarly, Plutarch recounts that upon hearing the first Choral Ode from Euripides’ tragic drama Electra, the victors in the Peloponnesian wars spared the city of Athens that had produced such men.26 Such are the heroic predecessors for Milton as poet and for the imagined royalist commander whom he hopes to persuade.

What should be obvious, then, is that even the turn to belles‐lettres and the great classical tradition of poetry and drama is not a turn away from but an embrace and transformation of the historical moment.27 Milton boldly and brilliantly politicizes the sonnet tradition of love poetry.28 His sonnet sets up the poet as a public figure who uses his rhetorical and poetical skills to speak out against violence and plunder, to re‐imagine himself and his nation in heroic mode. The sonnet shows the civic role of the poet, constituting a speech act that evinces the power of poetry to interpret and mythologize, to bring meaning to the threat of chaos and disorder.

Print and Public Opinion

Milton's hope that his sonnet might save a city, or at least his own house, may have been overly optimistic, and in the event was not tested, as the King at first delayed his assault on London and then was stopped by a numerically superior force of soldiers and Trained Bands at Turnham Green. But the poem constituted a different sort of speech act when it appeared in print, under the title ‘When the Assault was intended the City’, in Milton's 1645 Poems, published by the well‐known literary publisher Humphrey Moseley.29 By this time, Londoners no longer feared an immediate royalist assault, sacking, and pillaging. But Milton's audience now expanded from the potential ‘Captain or Colonel’ to a broader reading public. A topical moment had become art, or, rather, art was deployed to universalize and moralize the topical moment. In his early anti‐prelatical tract, Reason of Church‐Government, Milton had claimed for poetry the (p. 11) power ‘to imbreed and cherish in a great people the seeds of vertu and publick civility’.30 Despite the seeming self‐deprecation of his prose writing as ‘but of my left hand’, Milton made no binary distinction between his poetry and his prose.31 If the private voice of lyric poetry speaks to the public in Milton's politicized sonnets, his political tracts became aestheticized prose epics, which equally sought to persuade through voice and character, imagery and metaphor, allusion and analogy.

Scholars on the English Revolution have become particularly interested in appeals to public opinion, the opening up of an emergent public sphere with the print explosion of the early Civil War years.32 After 1641, as is well known, the mechanisms of censorship broke down with the abolition of the prerogative Courts of Star Chamber and High Commission.33 The number of printed texts, including domestic newsbooks and pamphlets, rose sharply, generating political opinion and debate in London, in the English provinces, and in the kingdoms of Scotland and Ireland.34

While news travelled in newsletters, letters, satiric verse, and other manuscript writings, print was key to the appeal to a politicized public. The spate of pamphlets being rushed into print after Edgehill, for example, not only deployed literary techniques to shape a narrative that swayed public opinion, but, even more self‐consciously, modelled or staged public responses within the text. In January 1643, several months after the initial tracts and at a moment when there was a push‐back for peace, two ‘wonder’ texts reported on an airy battle between infernal horsemen in the skies above Edgehill. A Great Wonder in Heaven: Shewing the late Apparitions and Prodigious Noyses of War and Battels, seen on Edge‐Hill, gives a graphic account: ‘first the sound of Drums a far off, and the noyse of Soulders, as it were, giving out their last groanes…[then] appeared in the ayre the same incorporeall souldiers that made those clamours, and immediately with Ensignes displayed[,] Drums beating, Musquets going off, Cannons discharged, Horses neighing…the alarum or entrance to this game of death was struck up.’35 Shortly thereafter, The New Yeares Wonder: Being a most Certaine and True Relation of the Disturbed Inhabitants of Keaton, and other Neighbouring Villages Neere unto Edge‐hill presents even more graphically the infernal airy re‐enactment of Edgehill, ‘whose troubled peece of earth plastred with English goare and turned unto a golgotha of bones is now become the plot of feare and horror…and sends both feare and horour round about to terifie the living with dead soules’.36

In self‐consciously attempting to shape public opinion, both Edgehill texts of January 1643 provide the reaction of witnesses, virtual stand‐ins for the reading public. In A Great Wonder in Heaven, the infernal soldiers appear to horrified shepherds, parodying the angelic heralding of the birth of Christ. More expansively in The New Yeares Wonder, the shepherds’ account brings mockery and disbelief, until a week later when the townspeople are themselves suddenly awakened with ‘the dolfull and the hydious groanes of dying men…crying revenge and some againe to ease them of their paine by friendly killing them’ (6). As the townspeople hide in corners, half‐smother themselves in their beds, or peep out of their windows, even gentlemen sent by the King from Oxford bear witness to the sight and depart ‘wonderous fearfull amaized and affrighted’ (8). Faced with such horrors, both wonder texts express the hope that God (p. 12) will end the unnatural civil wars in England and ‘send a sudden peace between his Majestie and Parliament’.37

Other responses to Edgehill remind us that news travelled well beyond London to the English provinces, and into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. In Aberdeen, Scotland, the Presbyterian minister and royalist sympathizer John Spalding eagerly copied down what he read and heard about the Battle of Edgehill.38 Early military historian T. Arnold denounced use of Spalding's History ‘as if it were a source of prime importance’, adducing its claim that the parliamentary army ‘wes rowtid and all defeat[ed]’ as typifying ‘the absurd statements such as a diary of the kind can hardly escape being full of’.39

Yet modern‐day scholars might see these alleged faults as precisely the virtues of Spalding's account. Spalding shows the fluidity of oral, manuscript, and print culture, as he reads and (probably) listens to accounts of the Battle of Edgehill and writes down full or partial accounts in his diary. Spalding copies long excerpts from Three Speeches Made by the Kings Most Excellent Majesty, the royalist text on Edgehill that we examined earlier. He adds in the wry detail that, preceding these speeches, the ‘king goes to his counsall of war, [and] resolves to fight on Sonday aganes his will, saying, “Then, since it is so resolved, let God fight his owne battellis upone his owne day” ’ (91). We also see current opinion as Spalding characterizes the King's speeches to his troops as a ‘brave and comfortable oration’ (91). Spalding transcribes the King's speech about the ‘Cavaliers’ and adds that, after having made his third speech, the King commanded that Psalm 7 (‘save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me…’) be publicly sung, ‘to the gryte joy of his people, who threw ther capes in the air, saying and crying out, “God save the King, Forduard, Forduard” ’ (92). An enumeration of the battle, including the claim of royalist victory, follows.

Finally, another royalist sympathizer in London shows how political opinion after Edgehill was manipulated not only by print but by display and oral performance. On 26 October 1642, in a fast sermon in St Margaret's, Westminster, before members of the House of Commons, Puritan clergyman Thomas Case drew upon Psalm 68: 1–2—‘Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered, let them that hate him, flee before him’—to blacken royalists and legitimize the Parliament's cause.40 Referencing a wide range of biblical texts, Case characterizes parliamentarians as followers of Moses, the children of Jacob, the Lord's Remembrancers, beloved Christians, ancient Christians, the seed of the Woman, Worthies of the Lord of Hosts, and captives in Babylon. Conversely, royalists are part of the kingdom of Sin and Satan, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, seed of the Serpent, incarnate devils, lions, bears, wolves, haters of God, heathen, thieves and murderers, and enemies of Jesus Christ. A dramatic delivery in the midst of the sermon of a note with the ‘news’ of parliamentary success at Edgehill allowed the Reverend Case to shift from a call to repentance to effusive thanksgiving for divinely bestowed victory.

Yet for all of the rhetorical and exegetical excess, at least one listener to Case's sermon in St Margaret's remained unconvinced. In a manuscript newsletter written shortly thereafter on the Battle of Edgehill, a royalist in London comments that, having been given a paper ‘to give G[od] thanks for the Victory, being 3000 slain on the K[ing]s (p. 13) side and 300 on theirs’, Case ‘did it an houre together, throwing such abominable dirt on private men & making such strong expressions to alm[ighty] G[od] that I tremble to think on them’.41 Print, manuscript, oral delivery, and word of mouth contributed to shaping public opinion on Edgehill, and on the English Revolution more broadly.

Revolutionary Readership

In appeals to public opinion, printed texts in the 1640s and 1650s both manipulated and empowered readers. And these readers—imagined or real, sympathetic or resisting, commenting in manuscript or responding in print—have received considerable recent attention in scholarship on the English Revolution. Building on a broader interest in the materiality of print culture, books, and reading, scholars have looked at reception and habits of reading as well as at the dialogic nature of much cheap print in the mid‐century crisis.42

As we shall see, important acts of print were also acts of reading. The Kings Cabinet Opened, the notorious publication of the secret and incriminating correspondence between Charles I and Henrietta captured after the Battle of Naseby in June 1645, was both a ‘print event’ and an act of reading, complete with highly tendentious annotations of the royal letters.43 The overwhelmingly successful Eikon Basilike: The Pourtraicture of his Sacred Majestie in his Solitudes and Sufferings portrayed Charles I as a pious and conscientious reader of the Bible, particularly the Psalms and Gospels, as he meditated upon and prayed over the crises of civil war; the King's book was framed as a last testament for his son and heir, and it was in turn read and annotated by scores of loyal, grieving subjects.44

Politicized uses of reading and explicit attention (positive and negative) to readers can also be seen in Milton's revolutionary prose, nowhere more so than in Eikonoklastes, his officially commissioned response to Eikon Basilike.45 Much of Eikonoklastes is dialogic, quoting from and engaging Charles's own words. But Milton also reads the King's book—and the King's life—through other texts, including the Bible and classical Roman history. Two epigrams to Eikonoklastes are drawn from the Roman historian Sallust. From Sallust's War with Jugurtha, Milton adduces Memmius, tribune of the commons elect, who speaks out against condoning the crimes of the Numidian king Jugurtha through the influence of a few (bribed) Roman partisans. Appealing to the people's sense of honour and their own liberties, Memmius (as cited by Milton) urges that they recognize and punish the guilty: Impune quælibet facore, id est regem esse (For to do with impunity whatever one fancies is to be a king).46 Milton draws another epigram—Regibus boni, quam mali suspectiores; semperq[ue] his aliena virtue formidolosa est (For kings hold the good in greater suspicion than the wicked, and to them the merit of others is always fraught with danger)—from Sallust's War with Catiline.47 Sallust had underscored the irony that, after the defeat of Carthage, the late Roman republic was corrupted from within, spawning the political conspiracy of the penniless (p. 14) aristocrat Catiline against Cicero and the Senate, and paving the way for eventual return to monarchy. Milton thus aligns himself not only with Sallust but with Cicero, whose orations to the Senate and the people were crucial in uncovering Catiline's plot and in exiling him as hostis and enemy to the state, as well as in summary execution of the conspirators remaining in Rome.48 Charles becomes a Catiline, stripped of the rights of a citizen, and appropriately executed.

Milton not only brings his own reading to bear in Eikonoklastes, but he puts considerable energy into addressing, indeed deriding, readers of the King's book.49 In his impassioned peroration, Milton excoriates those who gaze upon the frontispiece of Eikon Basilike as ‘an inconstant, irrational, and Image‐doting rabble…a credulous and hapless herd, begott’n to servility, and inchanted with these popular institutes of Tyranny, subscrib’d with a new device of the Kings Picture at his praiers’.50 Yet Milton holds out hope that the rest, the remaining few, ‘may find the grace and good guidance to bethink themselves, and recover’.51

But Milton in turn had his own revolutionary, or at least resisting, readers. On one extant copy of Eikonoklastes, beneath the final sentiment wishing for recovery of the misguided, an early hand has written: ‘which it is to bee feared ye Author hereof John Milton never did but is gone to his owne place[.] usque quo Domine.’52 As he implicitly consigns Milton to hell, this reader strikingly matches Milton in his own learning, and the classical text to which he alludes carries a special sting. The Latin words constitute the famous beginning of Cicero's first speech against Catiline in the Roman Senate: ‘Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra’ (In heaven's name, Catiline, how long will you take advantage of our forbearance?).53

In opening his first oration by asking ‘how long’ or ‘to what extent’ Catiline will abuse them, Cicero brilliantly presupposed the reality of the conspiracy and of all the charges—from personal immorality to plotting murder and sedition—that he would bring against Catiline. Cicero skilfully constructed dual opposed characters: the evil character of Catiline out of which bad deeds would flow and the wise and virtuous consul, Cicero, who protected the state.54 This resisting reader of Eikonoklastes thus boldly turns Milton's own literary and historical analogue against him, aligning Milton not with Sallust or Cicero but with Catiline as hostis: a conspirator, traitor, and enemy to the state.

Significantly, however, the application to Milton has a twist. It is not the deceased Milton, gone to ‘his owne place’, but his text that offends. Eikonoklastes takes on the life of the author, text, and person as interchangeable as in Milton's 1644 Areopagitica when he protested ‘as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye’.55 If for Milton ‘a good Booke is the pretious life‐blood of a master spirit, imbalm’d and treasur’d up on purpose to a life beyond life’,56 for this early reader that ‘life beyond life’ continues the damage, the insurrection, the treason of the man himself. Such is the strongest possible condemnation of Milton's republicanism. Yet in condemning the book as the man, the reader (p. 15) paradoxically affirms the central Miltonic belief in the public power of texts to challenge, transform, and revolutionize.

It is that powerful role of texts—and in particular the flourishing, transformation, and achievements of the ‘literary’—that this Handbook will address. It is the assumption of this volume that the writings of mid‐seventeenth‐century England grow out of and respond to the events of civil war, regicide, and republic and are best understood in that context. Yet at the same time, such texts transmute and go beyond their historical moment. In thirty‐seven chapters, historians and literary scholars from North America, the United Kingdom, and Ireland examine texts and contexts, authors and genres, movements and moments, capturing the innovation and excitement, as well as the aesthetic achievements and lasting contributions, of mid‐century literature. As such, we aim to provide an up‐to‐date, capacious, and authoritative guide for students and scholars of literature and the English Revolution.

Description of Handbook Parts

Our volume begins with contextual essays on England at home and in the world, 1640–60. Early chapters consider the cultural influence of the English Revolution on Europe and elsewhere, beginning with the reactions of Dutch, German, French, and Italian writers (including literary writers) to the war's violent conclusion and its far‐reaching political implications. We also see the interacting histories of the Three Kingdoms of Scotland, Ireland, and England, linked by economic and political interests and by shared experience of the destruction and displacements of war. The Civil Wars also impact connections and interchanges within the English Atlantic, particularly shipping, trade, religion, imperial politics, and the rhetoric of identity. Intellectual movements examined in Part I include religion, political thought, and science. During the years of revolutionary turmoil, English political thought strove to find constitutional order and stability, but also to ensure that this order was compatible with divine mandate. As an internecine Protestant conflict, the English Civil War had its roots in the ambiguities of the European and the English Reformations; religious concerns were at the forefront of the revolution, albeit intertwined with political and constitutional issues and concerns. Mid‐seventeenth‐century England also saw the emergence of medical or scientific concerns in literary texts, including Paradise Lost, which registers Milton's animist materialism and his interests in physiology, natural history, and medicine. The early 1640s mark a significant increase in print, including topical, controversial material that both reflected and contributed to the current crises: print was also a commercial business that depended on less controversial ‘steady sellers’, warranting examination in terms of consumption as well as production. Finally, mid‐century literature emerges at a time when Civil War disruptions inevitably influenced women's roles in the household, church, and politics.

(p. 16) The Handbook sections that follow this first, contextual part turn to revolutionary moments and movements, proceeding largely chronologically from the outbreak of civil war into the Restoration years. Part II looks at the First and Second Civil Wars in England, 1642–8, intertwined with events in Scotland and Ireland. This period evinces a new public audience and the development of news, pamphlets, and public opinion. Milton's appeals for liberty in Areopagitica evince a tension between principle and pragmatism, as he responds to the Presbyterians in Parliament and his own recent experience with the divorce tracts. Cavalier verse thrives in civil war, finding a public voice and print audience and responding deftly (e.g. Sir John Denham's Coopers Hill) to the progression of events. Autobiographical writing flourishes in the 1640s, and letters and diaries draw upon various genres (sermons, mother's advice books, history, devotional writing) in responding to political and religious turmoil. Andrew Marvell's shifting alignments mark the exigencies and complex political allegiances of civil war and its aftermath, yet his lyric and public verse shows accommodation and generic decorum, rather than simple equivocation. The Leveller movement grows out of engagement with parliamentary thought, the mid‐century boom in print and petitioning, and Puritan culture, particularly the gathered churches.

Part III of our volume turns to the regicide and republic, 1649–53. By virtually any standard, 1649 constituted a revolutionary moment. The King was put on trial and publicly executed in January 1649. In March, monarchy was officially abolished and the House of Lords disestablished. As wars continued in Ireland and Scotland, England struggled in print and propaganda. Scholars debate the extent to which England achieved a new republican aesthetic and to what extent royal modes continued. It is certainly the case that Charles I lived on in image and text, especially in Eikon Basilike, the most powerful and influential text of the seventeenth century, with a fascinating history of composition, strategy, and dissemination.

At the same time, political writings responded to ongoing events with bold new formulations, explored in the chapters in this Handbook sections. As a defender of the regicide, and spokesman for a movement that claimed, but never gained, popular support, Milton turns to various rhetorical manoeuvres in defining ‘the people’. As the key leader of the Digger movement, Gerrard Winstanley gives eloquent expression to some of the most radical ideals of the English Revolution, especially the potential for dramatic social transformation. Abiezer Coppe and other Ranters deploy violent, martial, and sexual imagery, along with wordplay, to express religious experience and community, but such writings also gave rise to fears and exaggerations among their contemporaries (as well as modern‐day historians). Political allegiances and identities register the pressures of the times. A stress on literary aspects as well as ideological issues shows continuities across shifts of allegiance in the work of journalist and political writer Marchamont Nedham. Rather than being a straightforwardly royalist work, Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan develops a comprehensive framework of rights and duties for both sovereigns and subjects. And, at the same time that non‐traditional genres employ literary techniques, lyric verse turns political. Henry Vaughan's distinctively ‘Welsh’ poetry responds to current politics, even in its most seemingly inward (p. 17) and spiritual moments. Finally, conversion narratives, drawing upon the models of St Augustine and St Paul, become increasingly important with English sectarians and New England Congregationalists in the early 1650s, pointing toward development into fuller narratives with such writers as John Bunyan.

Our fourth Handbook part looks primarily at texts written under the Cromwellian Protectorate, 1653–9, a time no longer seen as an inevitable march back to kingship, but as politically and culturally experimental.57 Chapters in this part explore a range of genres and texts. In addressing his two Latin Defences to a broad European audience, Milton appeals to the ‘better part’ of the people and evinces a continual concern with reformation and toleration. Prophetic writings, including by women, call to account the powers‐that‐be and predict events that would soon unfold. Marvell's three major poems on Oliver Cromwell evince the issues of patronage and allegiance faced by poets and writers in the shifting political contexts of the 1650s. The closure of theatres opens up other kinds of theatrical spaces in the 1640s and 1650s: plays move into pamphlets as a means of attacking parliamentary grandees, and above all, the ground is set for reformist aristocratic entertainment. Deliberately nostalgic printed recipe books of the 1650s offer access to medicinal and culinary culture, as well as to experience of the body, and are, rather than a domestic retreat, part of the political story of Revolution.

Political texts under the Protectorate continue to break new theoretical ground. James Harrington challenges conventional republican assumptions about virtue when (following Hobbes) he sees humans acting out of passion and self‐interest, and aims to design a system that would channel this self‐interest for the good of government. Less overtly in the Protectoral period, the seemingly escapist genre of royalist prose romance engages political issues through narrative and such aspects as the language of interest, critiquing Cromwell's ambition and royalist errors alike. Quaker’s pamphleteering shows the impact of print in English society in the 1650s and the dialogic nature of their writings challenges prevailing views of the Quakers as eccentric outsiders.

Our fifth and final part looks at writing leading up to and following the restoration of King Charles II in May 1660. Our focus on political culture allows for a reorientation of the 1660s and 1670s to consider an England that is less secular, less moving in a straightforward trajectory toward Enlightenment than is often thought. Attention to the ‘literariness’ of Milton's late prose tract, The Readie and Easie Way, shows how its intense rhetorical language works not only as lament but as satire in the tradition of Juvenal. John Dryden's triumphs and tribulations demonstrate how the conflicts of the English Revolution reverberate into the Restoration. In his grand epic poem, Paradise Lost, Milton draws upon both his Civil War experiences and literary tradition, yet neither of these ‘origins’ can account for the brilliance of the poem's heterodox theology, the marriage of Adam and Eve, the rebellion in hell, and its redefinition of epic heroism. Samuel Butler, Andrew Marvell, and John Dryden use satire to analyse the predicament of chaos at the top and to redefine an authority that is neither natural nor heroic, yet shared respect for literary skills links the three writers across differing political allegiances. Royalist writer Margaret Cavendish turns to natural philosophy as a remedial vantage point not only on the losses suffered during the English Civil Wars (p. 18) but also on disappointments after the Restoration. Lucy Hutchinson's emphasis on maternal authority in her epic Order and Disorder counters royalist uses of Genesis and shows how writings on the household and family are interlinked with republicanism. Finally, John Bunyan's career as a best‐selling author is made possible by the English Revolution: his appeal to common readers and aim to transform ordinary lives are part of the ongoing impact of the revolutionary moment. This section thus concludes with texts of the 1660s and 1670s and beyond, evincing the ongoing cultural impact of the mid‐century revolution.

Revolutionary Outcomes

William Dobson died in poverty in London in 1646. Many of the royalists he had earlier painted with bravura died on Civil War battlefields or lost fortunes in the King's cause and retreated to penurious exile. Charles II, whom a later account claims actually had to be rescued at the Battle of Edgehill, escaped a second time as a young adult, in the somewhat undignified dress of a serving woman, after defeat in the Battle of Worcester in September 1651. But, after the Restoration, Dobson's portraiture found an analogue in multiple depictions of Charles II in armour, despite his never having won a battle. Restoration court painter Peter Lely (who had earlier executed a sombre head‐and‐shoulders portrait of Oliver Cromwell) established visual continuity by adapting the grace and elegance of van Dyck Caroline portraiture to the far differing court of Charles II.58

The continuities in portraiture were part of an effort, also seen in print and literature, to depict the naturalness and inevitability of the return of the monarchy. Yet such efforts to insist upon return and inevitability belied their own intent. If the message was of continuity since the 1630s, the struggle over print and image demonstrated an ongoing appeal to public opinion that was itself a legacy of revolution. The literature that had been generated by the very ruptures and dislocations of revolutionary times continued both to reflect and to shape political, religious, and social change. And, as in the revolutionary years, such literature also continued to reach beyond the historical moment in its aesthetic, rhetorical, and imaginative achievement. It is the aim of this Handbook to give that achievement its full historical and analytical due.

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(1.) See Rogers, William Dobson; and Dobson, ODNB. On Sir Anthony van Dyck and Caroline court portraiture, see essays in Hearn (ed.), Van Dyck & Britain.

(2.) See the detailed accounts of the Battle of Edgehill in Young, Edgehill 1642; and Davies and Stuart, ‘Battle of Edgehill’. On the Verney family correspondence and Whitelocke's diary relating to Edgehill, see the chapter by Helen Wilcox in this volume.

(3.) See e.g. Smith, Literature and Revolution, on the revolution in literary genres; Norbrook, Writing the English Republic, on the language of republicanism; Corns, Uncloistered Virtue, on the politicization of literature; Potter, Secret Rites and Secret Writing, on royalist modes; Loewenstein, Representing Revolution, on aesthetics in religious polemics; and McDowell, The English Radical Imagination, on the strategic rhetoric and learning of prominent radicals such as Overton, Walwyn, and Coppe.

(4.) On nonconformist literature growing out of defeat, see Keeble, Literary Culture of Nonconformity, and Achinstein, Literature and Dissent.

(5.) Braddick, ‘The English Revolution and its Legacies’ and God's Fury, England's Fire.

(6.) See Morrill, Nature of the English Revolution; Keeble (ed.), Cambridge Companion to the English Revolution; Woolrych, Britain in Revolution; and Ohlmeyer, Civil War and Restoration in Three Stuart Kingdoms, as well as the contextual chapters in Part I of this volume.

(7.) Two scholars who do recognize mid‐seventeenth‐century radical uses of the term ‘Revolution’ are Hill, ch. 5 in A Nation of Change and Novelty; and Rachum, ‘The Meaning of “Revolution” ’.

(8.) Cromwell, His Highness Speech, 28–9. On Cromwell and the Bible, see Morrill, ‘How Oliver Cromwell Thought’.

(9.) The Hunting of the Foxes, 12. On the Levellers, see also the chapter by Rachel Foxley in this volume.

(10.) Nedham, Case of the Common‐wealth. On Nedham, see also Joad Raymond's chapter in this volume.

(11.) Smith, The True Light Shining in England, 7–8.

(12.) Pierce, Englands Season for Reformation of Life, 2.

(13.) For overviews of the issues, see Hughes, ‘The English Revolution of 1649’; Cust and Hughes (eds.), Conflict; Richardson, Debate on the English Revolution; and MacLachan, The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England. On long‐term causes, the classic text is Stone, Causes of the English Revolution. Broadly ‘revisionist’ challenges include Russell, Unrevolutionary England. Important work on the new British histories includes Russell, Fall of the British Monarchies; and Ohlmeyer, Civil War and Restoration in Three Stuart Kingdoms.

(14.) On the revolution in print culture, see Smith, Literature and Revolution; Raymond, Pamphlets and Pamphleteering; and Hughes, Gangraena and ‘A “lunatick revolter from loyalty” ’. On political culture more broadly, see Braddick, ‘The English Revolution and its Legacies’ and Walter, ‘The English People and the English Revolution Revisited’.

(15.) See e.g. Hill's Puritanism and Revolution; World Turned Upside Down; and Milton and the English Revolution.

(16.) Hill, Collected Essays, i. 3.

(17.) Arnold, ‘Battle of Edgehill’.

(18.) An Exact and True Relation, 3.

(19.) A Full and True Relation, title page.

(20.) Eight Speeches Spoken in Guild‐Hall, 11–12.

(21.) Charles, I, Three Speeches, 3.

(22.) A Prayer of Thanksgiving for his Majesties late Victory, broadsheet.

(23.) For example, Die Lunæ 24 October 1642, in which the Parliament orders that everyone in the cities and suburbs of London and Westminster ‘shut up their shops, and forbeare their Trades and other ordinary Imployments, that so they may with the greater diligence and freedome for the present attend the defence of the said places’ (broadsheet), and the amply titled A Declaration of the Lords and Commons Assembled in Parliament, for the Speedy Putting this City into a Posture of Defence, and to Fortifie All the Passages into the Same, Divers Rebels, Traytors, and Other Ill‐Affected People, in Pursuit of a Wicked Designe to Alter Religion, Being now Marching against the Parliament for Destruction of the Same, and of the City of London.

(24.) Sonnet 8, in John Milton: Complete Shorter Poems, ed. Revard, [67].

(25.) For example, for Lord Say and Seale, ‘it cannot bee doubted…that their intentions are, that this rich glorious City should bee deliver'd up as a prey, as a reward to them for their treason against the Kingdome and the Parliament, and that your lives should satisfie their malice, your wives, your daughters, their lust, and religion it self the dearest thing of all others to us, should be made merchandize of, to invite Papists, to invite forreigners’ (Eight Speeches Spoken in Guild‐Hall, 17–18).

(26.) See Milton, Complete Shorter Poems, [67], nn. 2 and 3.

(27.) Or, as Patterson, ‘That Old Man Eloquent’, puts it, in constructing his sequence of sonnets, Milton ‘articulated a specialized poetics…a theory of how literature cannot be understood except in the perspective of history’ (37).

(28.) On the move away from the literary historical into the political with this sonnet, see Mueller, ‘On Genesis in Genre’.

(29.) On Milton's 1645 Poems and Moseley, see Dobranski, Milton, Authorship, and the Book Trade, 82–103.

(30.) Milton, Reason of Church‐Government (1642), Complete Prose Works, i. 816. Hereafter cited as CPW.

(31.) Ibid. 808.

(32.) Scholars draw the concept of an emergent public sphere from Jürgen Habermas, Transformation, albeit with qualifications and changes. See e.g. Raymond, ‘The Newspaper, Public Opinion and the Public Sphere’ and his Invention of the Newspaper; and Zaret, Origins of Democratic Culture. Peacey, Politicians and Pamphleteers, however, finds an inverse relationship between rational public debate and propaganda (331–2).

(33.) On licensing and censorship, see Jason McElligott's chapter in this volume.

(34.) On newsbooks, pamphlets, and political debate, see the chapter by Jason Peacey in this volume.

(35.) A Great Wonder in Heaven, 5.

(36.) The New Yeares Wonder, 5.

(37.) A Great Wonder in Heaven, 7.

(38.) Spalding, History of the Troubles, 91–3.

(39.) Arnold, ‘Battle of Edgehill’, 140.

(40.) Case's sermon was printed in 1644 as God's Rising, His Enemies Scattering.

(41.) Royalist newsletter on Edgehill (1645). British Library, Harleian MS 3783, fo. 62.

(42.) On readers, see Achinstein, Milton and the Revolutionary Reader; on the dialogic character of cheap print, see Raymond, Pamphlets and Pamphleteering.

(43.) On the tendentiousness of the parliamentary reading in The Kings Cabinet Opened, including selection, omission, translation, and framing of the holograph letters, see Knoppers, Politicizing Domesticity, ch. 2.

(44.) On readers of Eikon Basilike, see Knoppers, Politicizing Domesticity, ch. 3. On the making and impact of the King's book, see also the chapter by Robert Wilcher in this volume.

(45.) On Eikonoklastes, see also the chapter by Stephen Fallon in this volume.

(46.) Milton, Eikonoklastes, title page, in CPW, iii. 337. See the Latin text (from which Milton's text varies slightly) and translation in Sallust, The War with Jugurtha, in Sallust, Works, 204–5.

(47.) Milton, Eikonoklastes, title page, in CPW, iii. 337. See the Latin (from which Milton varies slightly) and translation in Sallust, The War with Catiline, in Sallust, Works, 12–13.

(48.) Cicero's Catilinarian Orations thus may have been one source for Milton's recurrent use of ‘enemy’ as an epithet for Charles I, a striking usage to which Martin Dzelzainis, ‘Milton and the Regicide’, has recently called our attention.

(49.) For the suggestion that Milton's denunciation of the reader may be a rhetorical strategy that models by contrast an apt reading public, see Shore, ‘ “Fit though Few” ’. On Milton's readers more broadly, see Achinstein, Milton and the Revolutionary Reader; Dobranski, ‘Milton's Ideal Readers’, and von Maltzahn, ‘Milton's Readers’.

(50.) Milton, Eikonoklastes, CPW, iii. 601.

(52.) Milton, Eikonoklastes (1649). The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, The University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign. Call # 821M64.P16.1649 copy 1.

(53.) Cicero, 1st Catilinarian Oration. I am grateful to Bruce Swann, classics librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign, for assistance in deciphering the Latin and for pointing out the allusion to Cicero's oration.

(54.) On ethos and the persuasiveness of Cicero's Catilinarian Orations as based on character, see May, Trials of Character, 51–3.

(55.) Milton, Areopagitica, CPW, ii. 492.

(56.) Ibid. 493.

(57.) See Knoppers, Constructing Cromwell; Coward, The Cromwellian Protectorate, and the essays in Little (ed.), Cromwellian Protectorate.

(58.) See Alexander and MacLeod (eds.), Politics, Transgression, and Representation.