The History of Parliament

Today’s ‘on this day’ article for Parliament Week focuses on the publication of Milton’s famous tract, Areopagitica, in which he calls on parliament not to restrict the freedom of the press during the English Civil War. As Dr Vivienne Larminie explains, press censorship had been a controversial issue in the seventeenth century and was also difficult for the Long Parliament. Having presided over the abolition of the courts which punished those who used print to criticise or challenge Charles I’s politics, parliament had appeared to favour a freer press. However, the Long Parliament later established specialist licensers to inspect texts before publication. This prompted Milton to publish the Areopagitica. To read all about it, see Dr Larminie’s article here.

Once again, this issue resonates in today’s political climate and for today’s parliament. Next week, Lord Leveson is due to publish his report on press freedom, and whether…

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