Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Robert Shenk

Second Advisor

Kevin Marti

Third Advisor

Shelby Richardson



This paper will be of value in answering continuing questions regarding John Milton's position on war and peace. The questions continue and are valid because Milton's works, as considered in the paper, offer support for both pro-war and pro-peace interpretations. The paper also addresses a middle-ground interpretation-that Milton's position can best be understood in light of the legal theories of Hugo Grotius, the seventeenth-century Dutch scholar who is generally accepted as the father of modern international law.

The works considered include, among others, the Nativity Ode, the sonnets, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes (including post 9/11 controversy involving its alleged endorsement of terrorism), Christian Doctrine, and Milton's infrequently cited History of Britain.

No ultimate answers are suggested except that more than three hundred years of Milton scholarship have left little unexplored regarding Milton's views on war and peace. Milton will always be known for his admiration of soldiers, particularly his employer, Oliver Cromwell, and for his military imagery, particularly in Paradise Lost. He will also be known as a man who lived in a time of constant warfare, and yet who valued and sought individual inner peace.


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