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“A Warr So Desperate”

John Milton and Some Contemporaries on the Irish Rebellion

Author(s): Jim Daems

Book Description

“A Warr So Desperate”: John Milton and Some Contemporaries on the Irish Rebellion examines the political and colonial contexts of Milton’s Observations Upon the Articles of Peace, as well as the relatively brief, but significant comments on the Irish Rebellion that occur elsewhere in his work. Commissioned by the Council of State in March, 1649, Milton’s Observations puts forward the Commonwealth’s justifications for the reconquest of Ireland which would soon follow with Oliver Cromwell’s campaign. In doing so, Milton covers some familiar ground – for example, the trial and execution of Charles I, and the intolerance and political hypocrisy of the Presbyterians. However, the Irish Rebellion leads Milton to engage with these in a way which does not fit particularly well with how his views of personal, political, and religious liberties are generally perceived. Beginning with Milton’s pragmatic reading of the documents he cogently critiques in the tract, this book then situates Observations within the polemical contexts of the 1640s and early 1650s, particularly the frequent representation of Irish atrocities (reliant on both anti-Catholic and ethnic prejudices) and Eikon Basilike’s justification of Charles I’s handling of the rebellion, arguing both Milton’s agreement with and complicity in the reconquest.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-3510-7
ISBN-10: 1-4438-3510-2
Date of Publication: 01/02/2012
Pages / Size: 165 / A5
Price: £34.99


Jim Daems teaches in the English Department at the University of the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada. He is the author of Seventeenth-Century Literature and Culture (Continuum) and co-editor of Eikon Basilike (Broadview Press). He has also published articles on Milton, Spenser, Rochester, Bradford, and Winthrop.