London [i.e. Amsterdam]: t: ypis Du Gardianis [i.e. Jean Jansson], 1651. 12mo. [xlii], 330 pp. SECOND EDITION. Limp vellum, title written in ink on the spine; several blanks following the text. With several inscriptions, including ownership inscription of Richard S. Osler and R.J. Herford, and an early ink private library marking on the paste-down. Preserved in a folding cloth box. Item #17467
Second edition, one of seven duodecimo editions printed in 1651 by various printers. Madan asserts there was a quarto first edition with three issues printed in February 1650-51; the inconsistencies in dates are attributed to confusion with the calendar system at the time. In a letter dated May 1651 to Salmasius, the writer Heinsius mentions three separate duodecimos that were printed by Ludovic Elzevir, John Jansen, and one in Utrecht. According to Madan, this copy was the one printed by John Jansen (ie Jean Jansson) in Amsterdam based on its device on the title-page that matches another response to Milton’s pamphlet printed by Jansen in 1652.
Defensio is one of several anti-monarchical texts that Milton published between 1649 and 1655. Milton, in his position as Latin secretary, wrote Defensio at the request of Parliament in response to a pamphlet written by French scholar Claude de Saumaise (1588-1653) entitled Defensio regia pro Carolo I (1649). That work, a condemnation of the Englishmen who tried and executed Charles I, was ordered by Charles II while he was in exile on the Continent. In Defensio, Milton refutes Saumaise’s argument, focusing on the inconsistencies in the earlier text, and argues that since antiquity, the people are required to dispose of tyrants like Charles I for the public good.
Milton (1608–1674) was a poet, pamphleeter, and historian. He is considered the most important English writer after William Shakespeare.