This article contextualizes Paradise Lost within Milton's work for the Council of State during the Commonwealth and Protectorate. Drawing on archival research and scholarship on the history of diplomacy, it argues that modes of angelic association in Milton's heaven reflect emerging forms of international relations. As a post-Westphalian Europe began to negotiate new kinds of treaties and compacts, the role of communications in forming enduring alliances between sovereign entities became increasingly salient. Looking at angelic society from this perspective helps to explain the focus of Milton's narrative; it also sheds light on the crucial but largely neglected question of why Satan's followers join him in rebellion.

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