by Roy C. Flannagan, Ohio University
Originally published in Professor Flannagan's edition of
Paradise Lost
Copyright © 1993 by Macmillan Publishing Company
a division of Macmillan, Inc. 
Reprinted with the permission of the author. 
1608  December 9.  Born into the family of John Milton Sr., and his wife Sara, at the family home, "The Spreadeagle," Bread St., London.  The large house is within several blocks of St. Paul's Cathedral and in a well-to-do mercantile neighborhood.  John Milton Sr. is a prosperous scrivener-legal aide, real-estate agent, notary, preparer of documents, money-lender; he is also active as a composer of liturgical music. 
1615  November 24. Brother Christopher born. 
1618  Portrait painted by Cornelius Janssen (Leo Miller, Milton's Portraits 7-9).  Milton is tutored at home by Thomas Young, a Scottish Presbyterian who will come to be identified with the Puritan movement.  Young will present Milton with a Hebrew Bible and will trade Latin and Greek verses with him. 
1620 (?)  Enters St. Paul's School, under the high master Alexander Gill.  After Milton's death, his brother Christopher told John Aubrey "When he [John] went to Schoole, when he was very young he studied very hard and sate-up very late, commonly till 12 or one a clock at night, & his father ordered the mayde to sitt-up for him, and in those years composed many Copies of Verses: which might well become a riper age" (Darbishire 2, 10).  After the age of twelve, the young Milton "rarely retired to bed from my studies until midnight" (Columbia 8.119).  His best friend at St. Paul's is Charles Diodati, son of a prominent Protestant Italian doctor.  Charles will matriculate at Trinity College, Oxford, February 7, 1623.  Milton is also instituting a long-term friendship with Alexander Gill the younger, an under-usher at St. Paul's and about ten years older than Milton. 
1625  February 12.  Admitted to Christ's College, Cambridge, under the tutor William Chappell. 
1626  Dispute with Chappell causes him to be sent home to London or "rusticated" temporarily.  While in London, Milton informs Charles Diodati that he is seeing classical comedies and tragedies performed.  When he returns to Cambridge, he is put under the tutor Nathaniel Tovey. 
1627  June 11.  Lends his future father-in-law, Richard Powell, £500. 
1629  Expresses dissatisfaction with the curriculum at Cambridge in his first Prolusion: Milton avows that possibly half his audience of fellow students "bear[s]  malice" toward him (French 1:150).  Portrait painted (?).  Milton sees, and later derides, dramatic performances at Cambridge. 

December 25.  "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" composed before dawn. 
1630   Charles Diodati attends the University of Geneva, Switzerland.  Edward King, the subject of Milton's "Lycidas," is given a fellowship at Christ's College. 
1631   February.  Christopher Milton matriculates at Christ's College, under Milton's tutor Nathaniel Tovey. 
1632   Milton's "On Shakespeare"  published in the Second Folio of Shakespeare's works. 

July 3.  Takes M. A.  cum laude at Cambridge.  He has evidently been on much better terms with fellow students, since his poems on the death of Hobson indicate convivial behavior (Parker I: 94) and his last college exercise, the Oratorio pro Arte ("oration on behalf of art"), discusses, among other things, the value of worthy and congenial friendship. 

Retires to family homes at Hammersmith, near London, and at Horton, in Buckinghamshire, to study for five years, at his father's expense, occasionally visiting London "for the purposes of learning something new in mathematics or music, in which I then delighted" (Columbia 8.120). 

November.  Christopher Milton admitted to Inner Temple, London, to study law. 
1634  September 29.  Comus performed as part of the ceremonies honoring the installation of Thomas Egerton, the Lord President of Wales, at Ludlow Castle, on the border of England and Wales.  Sir Henry Wotton, Provost of Eton College, will be given a copy of the masque to read. 

Trades Greek and Latin verses with Alexander Gill the younger. 
1637  Comus is published, anonymously at first, with the aid of the court composer Henry Lawes, who has written the music. 

April 3.  Mother Sara dies and is buried at Horton. 

September 2.  Writes to Charles Diodati that he is finishing an intense and "great period of my studies" (French 1:343). 

November.  "Lycidas" is written (Edward King, Milton's fellow pupil at Christ's College, in whose memory the poem was written, had drowned August 10). 
1638  "Lycidas" is published in the Cambridge memorial volume for Edward King, Justa Edwardo King Naufrago ("In memory of Edward King, shipwrecked"). 
April (?) 1638  
early 1639 
Tours Western Europe, passing quickly through France, then concentrating on Florence, Siena, Rome, Venice, Milan, and Naples, and returning by way of Geneva.  Milton meets Hugo Grotius, the famous Dutch legal scholar and poet, possibly in May, 1638, in Paris. 
1638  Well received at meetings of the Academia Svogliati in Florence, where he reads his own Latin verse.  Presumably Milton goes to Vallombrosa, a monastery near Florence.  He also probably visits Galileo, then under house arrest by the Inquisition in Florence.  He attends an operatic performance at the palace of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, nephew to the Pope, in Rome, and visits the Vatican Library.  He meets the biographer of Torquato Tasso, Giovanni Batista, Marquis of Manso, in Naples.  Milton will write "Mansus" in his honor. 

A planned trip to Greece is canceled, apparently because of rumors of impending civil war in England.  Milton learns of Charles Diodati's death (Charles was buried in London August 27), possibly while visiting Giovanni Diodati, theologian and uncle of Charles, in Geneva. 
1639-1640  Settles in London, instituting a kind of private secondary school or academy, at first with his nephews Edward and John Phillips, later with aristocratic children as well. 

Charles I invades Scotland (1639).  The Long Parliament is convened (1640). 
1640  June 30.  Repossesses Richard Powell's lands in Wheatly for non-payment of debt. 
1641  May.  Of Reformation published. 

June or July.  Of Prelatical Episcopacy published. 

July.  Animadversions published. 
1642  February.  The Reason for Church Government published. 

May (?).  Marries Mary Powell.  She leaves him about a month later, to return to the Powell family household near Oxford, and does not return.  The Powell family declare on the side of the Royalists. 

August.  The Civil War begins. 

October.  Milton's brother Christopher begins service on the side of the Royalists while in residence in the city of Reading (Parker 1: 231).  Royalist army maintains its headquarters in Oxford.  Battle of Edgehill October 23. 
1643  August 1.  Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce published. 
1644  February 2.  Second, augmented edition of Doctrine and Discipline published. 

June 5.  Of Education published. 

July 2.  Battle of Marston Moor (turning point in the War). 

August 6.  The Judgement of Martin Bucer Concerning Divorce published. 

November 23.  Areopagitica published. 
1645  March 4.  Tetrachordon and Colasterion published. 

Poems of Mr. John Milton, Both English and Latin...1645 registered for publication. 

Makes plans to marry the daughter of a Dr. Davis, "a very Handsome and Witty Gentlewoman" (Darbishire 66).  Mary Powell returns. 

June 14.  Battle of Naseby (end of Charles I's hopes to achieve a military settlement). 
1646   The entire Powell family, having been ejected from Oxford as Royalist when the forces of King Charles were no longer in ascendancy there, moves in with Milton. 

January 2.  Poems...1645 published. 

July 29.  Daughter Anne born. 
1647   January 1.  Father-in-law Richard Powell dies. 

March.  John Milton, Sr. dies, leaving a "moderate estate" (Darbishire 32-33) including the Bread St. house. 

April 21.  Writes to his Italian friend Carlo Dati, lamenting that he is surrounded by uncongenial people (Yale 2: 762-73). 

The Milton family, after the Powell relatives have returned to Oxford, moves from the larger house in the Barbican to a smaller one in High Holborn, near Lincoln's Inn Fields, a quiet neighborhood. 
1648   October 25.  Daughter Mary born. 
1649   January 30.  Public execution of King Charles I: "Milton was probably there" (Parker 1:345). 

February 13.  Tenure of Kings and Magistrates published. 

March.  Invited to become Secretary for the Foreign Tongues (a post dealing with diplomatic correspondence, usually in Latin) by the Council of State.  Milton was appointed Secretary March 15, at £288 per year, and ordered to answer Eikon Basilike, the book supposedly written by Charles I on the eve of his execution, which depicts the King's image (icon) as that of a martyr. 

May 11.  Salmasius's Defensio Regia ("defense of kingship") appears. 

May 16.  Observations on the Articles of Peace published. 

October 6.  Eikonoklastes ("breaker of icons") published. 

November 19.  Given lodgings for official work at Scotland Yard. 
1650   Ordered by  Council of State to answer Salmasius. 
1651   February 24.  Defensio pro populo Anglicano ("defense of the English people," to vindicate the actions of the English on the Continent) published. 

March 16.  Son John born. 

Milton family moves to "a pretty Garden-house in Petty-France in Westminster ... opening into St. James's Park" (Darbishire 71). 
1652   February.  Becomes totally blind towards the end of the month, most likely as the result of glaucoma. 

May 2.  Daughter Deborah born. 

May 5.  Wife Mary dies, probably from complications following childbirth. 

June 16 (?).  Son John dies under somewhat mysterious circumstances (may have been neglected by a nurse; see Parker, Milton 1: 412). 

August.  Pierre du Moulin's regii Sanguinis Clamor ("the outcry of the King's blood") published, in reply to Milton's Defensio.  Milton is ordered to reply to it by the Council of State. 
1653  February 20.  Writes a letter recommending that Andrew Marvell, because of his abilities as translator and scholar, become his assistant. 

September 3.  Salmasius dies. 
1654  May 30.  Defensio Secunda published. 
1655  Allowed to use the services of an amanuesis to take dictation for him in Secretaryship; translation duties limited.  Milton resumes private scholarship, preparing a Latin dictionary and Greek lexicon; possibly he works on De Doctrina Christiana ("On Christia Doctrine"), his summary of his own theological beliefs; possibly works on Paradise Lost.  Salary reduced from £288 to £150, but that becomes a pension for life. 

August 8.  Defensio Pro Se ("defence of himself") published. 
1656  November 12.  Marries Katherine Woodcock. 
1657  October 19.  Daughter Katherine born. 
1658  February 3.  Katherine Woodcock dies. 

March 17.  Daughter Katherine dies. 

September 3.  Oliver Cromwell dies. 
1659  February 16 (?).  A Treatise of Civil Power published. 

March 3.  Ready and Easy Way To Establish a Free Commonwealth published in its first edition. 

Goes into hiding at a friend's house in Bartholomew Close to escape possible retaliation from Charles II's loyalists "where he liv'd till the Act of Oblivion [the act pardoning most of those who had abjured Charles I] came forth" (Darbishire 74). 

June 16.  Parliament looks into the possibility of having Milton arrested. 

June 27.  The hangman of London burns Defensio pro populo Anglicano and Eikonoklastes publicly. 

August.  The Likeliest Means to Remove Hirelings out of the Church published. 

August (?).  Takes a house in Holborn, near Red Lion Fields.  Milton moves from there shortly to a house in Jewin Street, in September, in fear for his life (Darbishire 74-75). 

October (?).  Arrested and imprisoned. 

December 15.  Released by order of Parliament.  On December 17, Andrew Marvell protests in Parliament that Milton's jail fees (£150) were excessive. 
1660  May 30.  Restoration of King Charles II. 

Revised edition of the Ready and Easy Way. 
1662  Begins tutoring Thomas Ellwood, a young Quaker who would mention the circumstances of the publication of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regain'd in his own autobiography. 

June (?).  Sonnet to Sir Henry Vane published.  Vane executed June 14, after eloquently defending the sovereignty of parliament. 
1663  February 24.  Marries Elizabeth Minshull.  Problems arise in the family before and after the marriage.  His daughter Mary is said to have wished him dead rather than married, and several of his daughters are said to have conspired to sell some of his books "to the dunghill women" (Parker 1: 586). 

The family moves from Jewin Street to "a House in the artillery-walk [a miltiary marching ground] leading to Bunhill Fields."  "here he finisht his noble Poem, and publisht it in the year 1666" (Darbishire 75). 
1665  Thomas Ellwood acts as agent, securing a house for Milton in Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire, to avoid a visitation of the plague in London.  ("Milton's Cottage,"  the only residence in which Milton lived that has been preserved, is now open to the public.) 
1666  The poet's father's house in Bread Street is among those destroyed in the Great Fire of London, which also burns most of the printing houses. 
1667  Paradise Lost published, in ten books.  Milton's agreement with Samuel Simmons the printer is the earliest author's contract preserved (Lindenbaum). 
1668  Paradise Lost reissued with a new title page, the arguments, and other preliminary matter. 
1669  June.  Accidence Commenced Grammar published. 
1670  Milton's portrait painted in pastels, then engraved, by William Faithorne. 

November (?).  History of Britain published, with the Faithorne engraving as frontispiece. 
1671  Paradise Regain'd and Samson Agonistes published together.  The date of composition of Samson Agonistes is still in dispute. 
1672  May (?).  Art of Logic published. 
1673  May (?).  Of True Religion published. 

November (?).  Poems, &c. upon Several Occasions ...1675 published. 
1674  May.  Epistolae Familiares ("familiar letters" or "letters to friends") and Prolusiones ("prolusions," college exercises) published. 

July 6 (?).  Second edition of Paradise Lost published, in twelve books, with commendatory poems by "S.B." and Andrew Marvell. 

November.  Dies "in a fit of the gout, but with so little pain or emotion that the time of his expiring was not perceived by those in the room" (French 5: 96) at some time between November 8 and November 10. 

November 12.  Buried near his father in the church of St. Giles, Cripplegate. 

Works Cited 

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Last updated: April 3, 1997.