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Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell$
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Christopher D'Addario and Matthew Augustine

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526113894

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526113894.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Debating censorship: liberty and press control in the 1640s

Debating censorship: liberty and press control in the 1640s

(p.131) 7 Debating censorship: liberty and press control in the 1640s
Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell

Randy Robertson

Manchester University Press

Scholars have long debated the extent and efficacy of English censorship in the 1640s. Drawing on publication and censorship data, this chapter argues that the infamous 1643 Licensing Ordinance proved more effective than many scholars have allowed. While writers, printers, and publishers enjoyed greater liberty to produce and circulate polemics in the 1640s, the measures adopted by Parliament and the Council of State limited the freedom of the press. Yet something changed fundamentally during this decade of civil war: at moments in the 1640s, the government lost control not just of the presses but of the discourse surrounding censorship. By examining the contests that arose over censorship, culminating in a discussion of John Lilburne’s treason trial, this chapter traces the vicissitudes of censorship in the 1640s and registers the discursive changes in debates about press freedom.

Keywords:   Censorship, Freedom of the press, English civil war, John Lilburne

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