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Puritan Settlement in New England in the 17th Century - Research Paper Example

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PURITAN SETTLEMENT IN NEW ENGLAND IN THE 17th CENTURY Course Number Date The English Puritans are central to American mythology, from the “creation story” of the landing of the Mayflower on Plymouth Rock in 1620, to the much-loved national holiday of Thanksgiving, to being considered the much-derided source of moralism and (Freudian) repression…
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Puritan Settlement in New England in the 17th Century
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Download file to see previous pages Robinson 2005). This essay will examine Puritan settlement in New England in the 17th century asking the following questions: Who were the Puritans? Where and why did they settle in the New World? What type of settlements did they create? What was their effect on the newly emerging country? The Puritans were English followers of the French religious reformer, John Calvin (Bremer 1995; Bunker 2010). In the 16th and 17th centuries, England (indeed, all of Europe), had been involved in fierce battles over religion, most particularly the supremacy and legitimacy of the Catholic Church. Wars within and between countries over this burning conflict – whose fire was continuously rekindled by the sparks from myriad particular events – were commonplace until the 18th century. Arguably, the peak of the confrontation in Britain occurred with the English Civil War from 1642-51, which saw the regicide of King Charles I by the Parliament (which was essentially under the influence of the Puritans), the establishment of a republican Commonwealth in effect under Puritan rule, and the re-establishment of the Monarchy under James II in 1660. The term “Puritan” was initially meant as an insulting term, but was later embraced by the English Calvinist Protestants (Bunker 2010; Heyrman 1991). Puritan referred not to moral priggishness (cf. Robinson 2005), but to being sticklers with regard to religious doctrine. They were called Puritans those who disagreed with the Religious Settlement proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth I in 1559, as being not reformed enough from the “Popish” practices of Catholicism with its rituals, hierarchy, and spiritual intermediaries (Bremer 1995). The Puritans believed that God had commanded the reform of both church and society. They condemned drunkenness, gambling, theatergoing, and Sabbath-breaking. They denounced popular practices rooted in pagan custom, like the celebration of Christmas, and deplored the “corruptions” of Roman Catholicism that still pervaded the Church of England – churches and ceremonies they thought too elaborate, and clergymen who were poorly educated (Heyrman 1991). The Puritans were not driven by mere doctrinal purity, but by a sincere belief that the millennium, or end of the world, was near, and that they must prepare for Christ’s return by building his Church and society here on Earth (Zakai 1994). Puritanism became a strong force in England (indeed, throughout Europe), with many powerful members of English society, including Members of Parliament, aristocrats, and middle class merchants as adherents (Bunker 2010). Equally, if not more, powerful members of English society, including the Monarchy, were against the movement (Bremer 1995). Importantly, most Puritans did not see themselves as separate from the Church of England, but rather as a reforming force within the English Church. As such, Puritanism was not a denomination, and in fact many Presbyterians, Quakers, and Congregationalists were part of the Puritan movement (Bremer 2010). After the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Puritans unsuccessfully tried to persuade the new King James to implement more than 30 changes in the Church to take it down a more Puritan path. This “Millenary Petition” was rejected, except for the request to translate the Bible into English (Bunker 2010). Without hope of reforming the English Church from within, and with the expected coming of Christ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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