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The History of Britain,

that part especially now call'd England. From the first traditional beginning, continu'd to the Norman Conquest. Collected out of the ancientest and best authors thereof.

printed by R. E[veringham] for R. Scot, R. Chiswell, R. Bently, G. Sawbridge; and are to be sold by A. Swall, and T. Child, London , 1695 Stock Code: 137206
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Third edition, following the first of 1670; one of two issues with variant title imprints. Milton drafted the first four books of the History of Britain in the six weeks between the execution of King Charles I on 30 January 1649 and his own appointment as Latin secretary on 13 March, and the final two books in the mid-1650s. Written with the full strength of Milton's politics and beliefs, the History displays a strong anti-clericalism and a puritanical Protestantism. Milton treats his mediaeval sources with contempt both for their style and their monkish assumptions. It is an ideological history, yet it is also "a journey away from grand narratives. Milton abandons the myth of England as a chosen and privileged nation. He abandons the legacy of sixteenth-century Protestant historiography, the legacy of John Foxe and John Bale, with its patient chronicling of the sufferings and triumph of the godly in the providential progress towards an English reformation. He virtually abandons a providential view of history altogether. Good men frequently suffer; bad men may triumph, few are punished for their actions but each successive civilisation ends in disaster... Milton's is a narrative without heroes and without consequence" (Gordon Campbell & Thomas N. Corns, John Milton: Life, Work, and Thought).

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Octavo (170 x 106 mm). Contemporary calf, rebacked and recornered preserving 19th-century paper label.


Inked note of the price of a different copy sold by Pickering in 1895 to front pastedown; a few very minor early marginal annotations including manicules. Bound without half-title. Light worming at head of first few leaves, small ink stain to p. 157, 5 cm tear slightly affecting text to pp. 193/194, short closed tear not affecting text to 345/346. A very good copy.


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