Censored and incomplete, Milton's History of Britain stands as a broken monument to the controversies of the seventeenth century, as well as to the political and religious ambitions of Milton himself. This book is a comparative study of the History's composition and publication which allows new perspectives on Milton's republican allegiances from the 1640s to the 1670s, and beyond. Now the History can be seen as Milton's response to the crisis of the English
Revolution in 1648-49. This examination of the History also permits a wider view of the publication and reception of Milton's work in the Restoration; in particular, the work's censorship makes it a central text in the study of Restoration publishing. This first full-length study
makes Milton's History available to scholars as never before. Because early modern histories can only be understood with reference to the texts they recycle, the History has hitherto proved largely impenetrable. This study provides the contextual information with which we can make sense of the composition and publication of the History.
`Von Maltzahn's systematic and heavily annotated study is the first book-length scholarly analysis ... the book is a comprehensive, clearly written treatment of scholarly issues that surround Milton's historiography, and Von Maltzahn has done a genuine service to Milton scholars.'
`The History ... deserves the full scholarly treatment that Nicholas von Maltzahn has accorded it, and most of his study displays scholarship of a high order ... this book is the best thing yet published.'
Times Literary Supplement
'Von Maltzahn's measured and penetrating scholarship presents the writing of the History as a meditative exercise in national self-instruction ... Von Maltzahn's study, unassuming in manner yet far-reaching in its implications, reveals the inner despair behind Milton's bold propaganda of the Commonwealth period.'
London Review of Books
`Von Maltzahn has provided a careful study of the background and composition of the history ... Through a dexterous comparison of editions, and an acute awareness of immediate historical context, Von Maltzahn has produced what now stands as the authoritative work on this highly misunderstood History. ... let me reiterate that there is a great deal to be learned from this fine book, and that it, like Sharon Jansen's investigations of an even
murkier set of texts, has much to offer the historian of early modern England.'
D.R. Woolf, Canadian Journal of History
'In this revised version of Nicholas von Maltzahn's Oxford doctoral thesis, an outstanding study of Milton's History of Britain, the author deftly explores such key questions as dating, methodology, sources, and historical context.'
Richard L. Greaves, Florida State University, The Historian, Vol. 55, No. 4, Summer '93
'In his exemplary and exact work of scholarship Nicholas von Maltzahn gives us the fullest and most persuasive account we have of the text and contexts of Milton's History of Britain ... he also greatly enriches our sense of Milton's intellectual development in general and of his political thought in particular ... constantly illuminating study which will surely find a secure and lasting place in the secondary literature on Milton.'
N.H. Keeble, University of Stirling, Notes and Queries, September 1993
'In the course of working out his analysis, von Maltzahn examines the historiographical context of Milton's book in great detail; he also searches out the other historical references elsewhere in the poet's works. All this is valuable, and produces much the best study we have of Milton, the historian.'
F.J. Levy, University of Washington, Albion, Summer 1993, Vol. 25
'the most welcomed addition to the Milton field'
Gregory W. Bredbeck, University of California, Riverside, English Language Notes, June 1993
'The book is an excellent, lucid introduction ... Dr Von Maltzahn gives us the first full-length study of the History ... The book will become an essential starting point for further research into these, and other topics.'
Sharon Achinstein, Northwestern University, Prose Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2, Aug '93
'an important study of rather an unimportant book ... a beautifully written study ... The arguments von Maltzahn advances are strong ones.'
John Morrill, Selwyn College, Cambridge, Review of English Studies, Vol. 45, No. 177, Feb '94
v. Maltzahn's first full-length study of the History, its composition and publication is a welcome and valuable contribution to Milton scholarship...v. Maltzahn's refreshing analysis of the History is a must for all Milton scholars.
`likely to be the definitive work on Milton's History of Britain.'
English Historical Review Feb 95
Milton's "History" (1670) and "The Character of the Long Parliament and Assembly of Divines" (1681); Milton's "intereign" - the date of the "History"; the background to Milton's "History"; Milton on the ancient Britons; Milton and Gildas; Milton and the Early Church; culture and conquest - Milton and the Saxons; the reticent "History" - Milton, the ancient constitution and the feudal law.