XXI. End as of 11/10/95
To Notes as of 11/10/95
XXII. After the fall: Milton and Paradise Lost
A. It will undoubtedly surprise you that, despite Vergil, the Roman Empire declined and fell under a series of plagues, famines, and the attacks of a great many beer-drinking people on horseback.
1. What books the monks had been able to convince themselves were part of the Preparatio Evangelica survived in the Monasteries
2. The Arabs saved what they liked, and
3. Some material got out of Constantinople (fell 1453)
B. Around 918 or so Charlemagne and others began to get things politically stabilized again, and by the the 1300's people were beginning to check the books out of the Monasteries and not return them.
1. People like Charlegmagne felt and promulgated the idea that they were doing god's work, and the old Roman link ofsupernatural power to control of the empire resurfaced as "The Divine Right of Kings," hearkening back to David and Saul's anointing.
2. About the only check to a strong monarchy came in the 1200's, something called the Magna Carta, which basically boiled down to "No taxation without representation."
C. Culturally things were on the upswing.
1. Latin as a language had survived in the West, and so resurrecting Vergil was easy--he'd even survived in legend as a sort of proto-Christian Wizard.
2. Homer was harder--the great Italian humanist Petrarch, sort of Vergil reborn, kept a copy of Homer with him always. Shame he never QUITE learned how to read it, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
3. Thanks to the work of people like Petrarch, and refugees from Constantinople, people COULD read the surviving epics again, or have them read and translated to them.
4. Epic came raging back, the link to antiquity painfully (heh) obvious in Dante's absolutely magnificent Divine Comedy.
5. Dante, with Vergil to lead him by the hand, kept to the old Roman tradition of using epic for more than just storytelling, as in putting his worst enemies into flaming graves.
6. That's still being done. I highly recommend Niven & Pournelle's modern re- make of the Inferno, with its absolutely devastating slam at Kurt Vonnegut (who I don't like, either).
XXIII. The Scene now changes to 17th Century England
A. As I told you, Henry VIII and Leo VI got into a rather unpleasant disagreement in ____ and Henry broke the Church of England off from the Catholic Church.
1. First came Jack Horner's feast of confiscated church lands
2. Then came the task of trying to combine spiritual and secular authority while at the same time responding to the concerns that had brought on the Protestant Reformation of 1574.
3. It didn't work too well, in case phrases such as 'Ireland,' 'Bloody Mary,' 'the Spanish Armada,' etc., don't mean anything to you.
B. By the Reign of Charles I, scion of one of the dumbest families ever to control the crown of England (descended from Mary Queen of Scots), the task was getting a little difficult.
1. A strengthening group of English thinkers, politicians, and thinkers were questioning the areas in which the Kings of England had kept the Church of England similar to the Catholic Church.
a) The Puritans came to believe that no one needed a priest or a pope or a Saint to intercede with God on their behalf: everyone was in control of their own salvation (vs. Tetzel and his indulgences)
b) They also believed that anybody was competent to understand God's written word, again, as James I came to agree.
2. They would come to rally around one Oliver Cromwell, hereditary enemy of my house.
C. Oliver Cromwell: Rebel and then Lord Protector
1. His father and mother came from Protestant families who had profited from the destruction of the monasteries during the reign of King Henry VIII, and it is probable that they influenced their son in his religious upbringing.
2. Read a lot of history and became convinced (as was popular at the time) that the hand of God was manifest in both history and current events.
3. Poor until the age of 39 when inherited land, then trying not to be poor afterwards.
4. Charles I and his court were taxing the snot out of everybody to pay for political involvement abroad, $200 haircuts, and requisite graft.
5. Just as Cromwell got elected to Parliament in 1628, Charles got into a terrible budget battle with it and dissolved it for 11 years. What's the use of talking?
6. Charles eventually had to recall parliament, dissolving it in 1640 after a short return, but he needed that money and kept the next parliament in session until 1653.
7. Cromwell became a spokesman for the idea of making the state church a plainer (Puritan) organization, with congregations electing their own ministers, etc.
8. In November 1641 John Pym and his friends presented to King Charles I a "Grand Remonstrance," consisting of over 200 clauses, among which was one censuring the bishops "and the corrupt part of the clergy, who cherish formality and superstition" in support of their own "ecclesiastical tyranny and usurpation," Cromwell declared that had it not been passed by the House of Commons he would have sold all he had "the next morning, and never have seen England more."
D. Charles had his own way of coping with the Legislative branch and tried first arresting the leadership and by 1642 was raising an army to use against Parliament, among whom came to be my relatives (Sir James Rice, Wales).
1. Cromwell didn't start out commanding Parliament's Army, but he ended up that way by bringing back some old Roman ideas (whether that's where he found them or not).
a) His Roundheads got their names since they were trained like modern professional soldiers--hair shaved, drilled, very strict spiritual and military discipline.
b) By 1644 he was 2nd in command of the army and by 1647 the Roundheads had beaten the **** out of the Cavaliers (from Chevalier, knight) and put Charles to flight at the Siege of Oxford.
XXIV. End as of 12/1/95
1. Peace in 1647 but Charles hadn't conceded anything and
a) Parliament decided that they could not trust the army and ordered it disbanded, while they hired a Scottish army to protect them.
b) Cromwell, may have known the usual result of using a mercenary army (as in, Rome and Carthage) thought that the English soldiers were being disgracefully treated, left London and on June 4, 1647, threw in his lot with his fellow soldiers.
A. The Army arrested and eventually executed Charles I after he jumped bail and tried to get the Scots and that army to put him back on the throne.
1. Cromwell was busy in Wales driving out my family (who ended up in Virginia) out of their admirable, if foolish, loyalty to the King.
2. Charles was captured and got his in 1648 after he refused to plead to parliament's charges.
B. Cromwell ends up running the new sovereign parliament despite the
1. Mutiny of the Levellers, an extremist Puritan party said to be aiming at a "levelling" between rich and poor, in the Commonwealth army.
2. Cromwell ruthlessly slaughtered the Irish (who still hate him for it) in a revolt in 1649 on the "Christian" grounds that it would prevent "the further effusion of blood."
3. Charles II (the first Bonnie Prince Charlie) got wiped out by Cromwell along with a great many of the Scots as Worcester in 1650.
4. Meanwhile, Parliament didn't like Cromwell's amnesty (Act of Oblivion) and the Army didn't like Parliament, and Cromwell ended up first appointing his own "Assembly of Saints" and finally just declared himself "Lord Protector" by God's Will.
5. Cromwell instituted a series of reforms:
a) Legal reforms and his appointed judges
b) He was strongly opposed to severe punishments for minor crimes, saying: "to see men lose their lives for petty matters . . .is a thing that God will reckon for." For him murder, treason, and rebellion alone were subject to capital punishment.
c) Committees known as Triers and Ejectors were set up to ensure that a high standard of conduct was maintained by clergy and schoolmasters.
d) Cromwell readmitted Jews into the country. He concerned himself with education, was an excellent chancellor of Oxford University, founded a college at Durham, and saw to it that grammar schools flourished as they had never done before
e) Clobbered the Dutch in 1654 and absolutely terrified the rest of Europe until his death in 1658. Conquered Jamaica, Mon.
f) Dissolved Parliament in 1655, opposed any major effort to overthrow traditional institutions.
g) Very tolerant to Quakers and Anabaptists.
6. Why am I talking about all this? Could it be. . . Satan?
C. Now who's this Milton guy?
1. Milton was born in London on December 9, 1608.
2. His grandfather, an had been a staunch Roman Catholic who had disinherited his son, the poet's father, for turning Protestant.
3. John Milton, Sr. made his comfortable fortune as a scrivener, or notary, and through the collateral business of private banking or moneylending (usury?)
4. Milton was to pay repeated tributes to his father's generous concern with his education and the poet's lifelong devotion to music-- "Ad Patrem" may well have been written in 1631-32.
5. Educated at St. Paul's School, London, 1620, may have been as early as 1615.
a) In addition to his regular schoolwork in Latin, Greek, and, later, Hebrew, the boy had instruction at home, perhaps partly in modern languages, from private tutors.
b) Milton was a voracious student; he traced the initial cause of his later blindness to his having, from his 12th year, rarely quit his books before midnight. You can try that on your parents.
6. At Cambridge from 1625 to 1632, left with an M.A.
a) Got into a fight with his tutor in 1626, compared himself to Ovid on the Black Sea--there's an omen!
b) Milton's nickname at the university, "the Lady," was apparently bestowed because of his handsome and delicate features and a purity of mind and behaviour that disdained the diversions of his coarser fellows
c) Wrote a great many poems in Latin and Italian, in Italy in 1631, Italian, thanks to Petrarch, sort of the University language of the time.
d) In the Christmas season of 1629-30 he wrote his first great poem in English, "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity.", composed shortly after his 21st birthday
e) Kind of announcement of his future direction, both in its religious theme and in its conception and form and image and rhythm.
7. From 1640 lived in London trying to make a living by teaching.
a) Was going to write an Arthurian epic, but he got caught up in what was going on around him.
b) Ended up writing a series of angry pamphlets against the professional clergy and the idea (Prelaty/Prelacy) that such was needed for Salvation from 1640-49
8. As is often the case, scandal brought fame
a) Notoriety came in 1643, with Milton's "Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce" (enlarged edition 1644), followed by three more tracts in1644 and 1645 on the same theme.
b) His discussion was presumably hastened by his own marital disaster.
c) In June (?) 1642, several months before the outbreak of the Civil War, Milton had married Mary Powell, the daughter of a Royalist squire of Oxfordshire who owed money to his father. Success could hardly be predicted for the marriage of a scholar and poet of 33 to an uneducated girl of half his age from a large, easygoing household. She left him in 1642
d) Considering what we've got in Paradise Lost, you might guess that Milton had high ideals regarding the institution.
e) In the tracts, Milton argued that the sole cause admitted for divorce, adultery, might be less valid than incompatibility, and thatthe forced yoke of a loveless marriage was a crime against human dignity.
f) Both religious and philosophic tradition and the way of the world (including the usually meagre education given to girls) kept woman inferior to man
g) Milton, without denying that view, upheld a personal and Puritan ideal of marriage as an active bond of mutual love and mental companionship, an ideal that exalted women far above the level they occupied, say, in Cavalier poetry.
h) He was attacked as a libertine by Royalists and Presbyterians alike.
i) In 1645 friends brought about a reunion between Milton and his wife; and in 1646, when the Powells had been ruined by the war, he took into his house, for nearly a year, the whole noisy family of 10.
j) Three daughters, Anne, Mary, and Deborah, were born in 1646, 1648, and 1652. A son died in infancy. Mrs. Milton died a few days after Deborah's birth.
9. By 1649 he had Pamphleted his way right into the Government
a) Wrote the Areopagita on Freedom of the Press.
b) He was invited to become secretary for foreign languages to Cromwell's Council of State.
c) He was not on the policy-making level, but he had the easy command of Latin needed for foreign correspondence.
d) As a publicist of demonstrated sympathy with the revolution, he was expected to continue his defense of the cause against the multiplying attacks on the regicides. Killing Charles was a public relations disaster.
e) Is running Cromwell's paper in 1651 but goes blind and becomes horribly depressed in the winter of 1651-52. Milton was only 43, and the great poem was still unwritten.
f) Blindness reduced his strictly secretarial duties, though he continued through 1659 as a translator of state letters.
g) By 1659 he was warning Cromwell, in dictated print, against becoming a tyrant.
D. Charles II was back in the Restoration of 1660.
1. Milton couldn't believe it, and barely survived it.
a) Charles showed Cromwell by digging him up and hanging him.
b) There was an act of Oblivion amnesty, again, but Milton was arrested anyway and in danger of execution (released in December of 1660).
c) By 1655 he was broke, back in private life, and dictating Paradise Lost.
XXV. End as of 12/4/95