Milton and the European Contexts of Toleration

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter provides a framework for the other chapters in this volume by locating Milton in a broad tradition of intellectual freedom of belief associated with elite groups in Europe. From this tradition, Milton derived his understanding of religious toleration and persecution, of free will, Socinianism, and antitrinitarian theology. While challenging Whig accounts of Milton, this study orients the poet-polemicist's views on toleration in terms of cutting-edge thinkers on the Continent, particularly in Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, and France, as well as England. Fusing classical republicanism and advanced Protestantism, Milton's writing is dedicated towards inculcating freedom and belief as anti-idolatrous, anti-popish, and hence anti-enslaved activities; a perpetual source of renewal for a free state. At the same time, the message that liberty means some things are not to be tolerated is also everywhere evident in Milton's poetry and prose.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationMilton and Toleration
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191712210
ISBN (Print)9780199295937
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Anti-Catholicism
  • Antitrinitarianism
  • France
  • Poland
  • Socinianism
  • Spain
  • The Netherlands
  • Whig history


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