Toleration and the Specter of Heresy in Milton's England

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This chapter discusses the spectre of heresy in Milton's England and the significant impact it had on the bitter struggle over religious toleration. Under examination is the rhetoric of fear, hysteria, and savagery that characterized the assault on toleration by orthodox godly writers, including Presbyterian heresiographers who abhorred religious schism and sectarianism. Radical religious writers as diverse as John Goodwin, William Walwyn, and John Milton responded with ingenuity to the intense fears that toleration was unleashing religious chaos. As this chapter reveals, Walwyn and Milton show the greatest linguistic suppleness and conceptual imagination as they interrogate orthodox visions of the terrifying growth of heresy in the midst of the English Revolution's deepening crisis over religious toleration. Positioning Milton in relation to his radical religious contemporaries, this chapter illuminates the complexity and originality of his responses, expressed in his densely imagistic prose, to the spectre of heresy.

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

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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