Guide English Puritanism 1603–1689

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British Broadcasting Corporation Home. James's accession meant that the three separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were now united, for the first time, under a single monarch. James was the first Stuart ruler of England. One of James I's first acts of foreign policy was to end the long war with Spain, which had continued intermittently for 20 years. The resulting Treaty of London was largely favourable to Spain, but was also an acknowledgement by the Spanish that their hopes of bringing England under Spanish control were over.

The end of the war greatly eased the English government's near bankrupt financial state. England and Spain were at peace for the next 50 years. In , a group of English Catholics, angered by James I's failure to relax the penal laws against their co-religionists, hatched a plot to blow up the king and parliament by igniting gunpowder barrels concealed in a vault beneath the building.


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The plot was discovered before it could be carried out. The conspirators, including Guy Fawkes after whom the plot is often known, were either killed resisting arrest, or captured and then executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered. But in , the new lord deputy, Arthur Chichester, began to restrict their authority. Fearing arrest, the two fled to the continent with 90 family members and followers - the 'Flight of the Earls'.

Protestants from England and Scotland were encouraged to move to Ulster, cultivate the land and establish towns. These 'planters' moved onto land confiscated from its Gaelic Catholic inhabitants. The plantation was often organised through guilds and corporations.

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The London companies were granted the city of Derry, thereafter known as Londonderry. By the end of the 16th century, there were several different English bibles in circulation and the church authorities felt a definitive version was needed. It became the most famous English translation of the scriptures and had a profound impact on the English language. The eldest daughter of James I and Anne of Denmark, Princess Elizabeth, was widely admired for her beauty, spirit and charm. Six years later, Frederick was elected king of Bohemia, but he and Elizabeth were driven out of the country by Catholic forces soon afterwards.

It was through Elizabeth's descendants that the House of Hanover came to inherit the English throne. William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, popular in his time but subsequently regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. The first Africans who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia were not slaves but indentured servants. However, over the course of the 17th century their status gradually shifted so that more and more became slaves.

Race-based slavery soon became central to the economy of the British colonies in North America. A group attempting to escape religious persecution in England sailed for the New World and landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. They became known as the 'Pilgrim Fathers', and are often portrayed as the founders of modern America.

Jamestown was established on behalf of the London Company, which hoped to make a profit from the new colony for its shareholders. James I was struck down by what contemporaries described as 'a tertian ague' and died in his bed at Theobalds, in Hertfordshire, at the age of He was succeeded by his only surviving son, Charles, then years-old, who was proclaimed as king at the gates of Theobalds a few hours later.

He returned two years later with a group of settlers and Barbados was developed into a sugar plantation economy using at first indentured servants and then slaves captured in West Africa. Despite his best efforts, Buckingham was eventually forced to evacuate the island amid scenes of chaos and confusion.

While conferring with his officers, Buckingham was stabbed by John Felton, a discontented former soldier. The duke was immensely unpopular and few apart from the king mourned his death. Already disillusioned with parliaments, Charles I was outraged when, on 2 March , members of parliament first held the Speaker of the House down in his chair and then passed three resolutions condemning the king's financial and religious policies.

Eight days later, Charles dissolved the assembly and embarked on a period of government without parliaments, known as the 'Personal Rule'. Keen to secure a greater degree of religious conformity across his three kingdoms, Charles I ordered the introduction of a new prayer book in Scotland. The measure backfired badly when, at St Giles church in Edinburgh, an angry crowd protested against the book, shouting: 'The Mass is come amongst us!

Determined not to accept the new prayer book which Charles I was trying to impose on them, the Scots had drawn up a 'National Covenant' which bound its signatories to resist all religious 'innovations'. Thousands followed. The General Assembly of the Kirk declared episcopacy bishops abolished and Charles prepared to send troops into Scotland to restore order. Desperate for money to fight the Scots, Charles I was forced to summon a new parliament - his first after 11 years of personal rule. At first, there seemed a good chance that members of parliament might be prepared to set their resentments of the king's domestic policies aside and agree to grant him money.

Yet such hopes proved illusory, and Charles was forced to dissolve the parliament within a month. Having advanced deep into England, the Scottish army found Charles I's forces waiting for them on the southern bank of the River Tyne at Newburn. Charging across the river under cover of artillery fire, the Scots swiftly put the English infantry to flight.

Charles was forced to agree to a humiliating truce. With the Scottish army firmly established in Northern England and refusing to leave until its expenses had been paid, Charles I was again forced to summon a parliament. But instead of providing the king with financial assistance, many of the members of parliament - some of whom were zealous Protestants, or Puritans - used it to voice angry complaints against his policies.

In late , Ireland rebelled. The country's Catholic inhabitants were simultaneously appalled by the prospect of a Puritan parliament achieving political dominance in England, and entranced by the possibility of seizing concessions similar to those which had been won by the Scots. Several thousand English and Scottish Protestant settlers were killed and many more were forced to flee. Fearing that his opponents in parliament were not only determined to seize political control, but also to impeach his Catholic wife, Henrietta Maria, Charles I marched into the House of Commons and attempted to arrest five leading members of parliament.

Forewarned, they slipped away and Charles was forced to leave empty-handed. By setting up his royal standard on the Castle Hill at Nottingham, and by summoning his loyal subjects to join him against his enemies in parliament, Charles effectively signalled the start of the English Civil War. Inauspiciously for him: 'the standard itself was blown down the same night Although parliament had initially managed to gain control of almost all of southern England, in October some 10, Cornishmen rose up in arms for Charles I and chased parliament's few local supporters across the River Tamar.

Thus a new front in the developing English Civil War was opened, with the Cornishmen becoming some of the king's toughest soldiers.

English Puritanism, by John Spurr

The struggle that followed was bloody but indecisive, putting paid to hopes that the English Civil War might be settled by a single battle. Having suffered a series of reverses and desperate for more men, Charles I ordered James Butler, Marquis of Ormond, to arrange a ceasefire with the Catholic 'confederates' or insurgents in Ireland, so that the English Protestant soldiers fighting there could be shipped home to serve against the Parliamentarians.

The so-called 'cessation of arms' outraged the king's English opponents.


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Fearing that they would be unable to beat the Royalist forces without outside help, the Parliamentarians concluded an alliance with the Scots. By the terms of the treaty the Scots agreed to send a powerful army to fight Charles I, in return for church reform in England 'according to the word of God', that is, in keeping with Scottish Protestantism. Charles I's northern supporters were besieged in York by a joint force of Parliamentarians and Scots, but were relieved by a Royalist army under the king's nephew, Prince Rupert. Triumph quickly turned to disaster for Rupert when his army was destroyed in a pitched battle at Marston Moor on the following day.

Thereafter, the north of England was effectively lost to the king. Following the humiliating defeat of its main field army in the Battle of Lostwithiel in Cornwall in , parliament decided a more effective army was required. It passed the 'Self-denying Ordinance' that required all members of both houses of parliament to lay down their commands. The restructured fighting force, established by law on 15 February, was named the 'New Model Army'. Sir Thomas Fairfax was appointed its lord general and Oliver Cromwell his second-in-command.

Confident that his veteran troops would outfight parliament's newly-raised forces, Charles I launched his main field army of around 9, men against Sir Thomas Fairfax's army of around 14, men at Naseby in Northamptonshire. The result was a disaster for the king. The superb Royalist infantry were lost, and with them, all chance of winning the war. As the Parliamentarian net closed around him, Charles I decided to throw in his lot with the Scots.

He made his way to the camp of the Scottish army at Southwell, near Newark, and gave himself up. At the end of December , the bulk of the Scottish army marched back across the River Tweed and the king's Scottish guards were replaced by English Parliamentarian ones. In mid, England experienced a further eruption of violence known as the Second Civil War.

Rebellions in favour of the king broke out in many parts of England and Wales, and a joint force of Scots and English Royalists rode south but were destroyed at Preston by an army under Oliver Cromwell. This marked the end of the Royalist resurgence. Enraged by parliament's opposition to their political ideals, officers of the New Model Army decided to remove those members of parliament they regarded as untrustworthy in what was effectively a coup d'etat.

Colonel Thomas Pride, after whom the purge is named, accordingly turned away some members, while over 40 more were arrested.

Civil War and Revolution

The resulting parliament of less than members was derisively known as 'the Rump'. Accordingly, the king was charged with high treason, tried, found guilty and beheaded. Charles faced his trial and death with remarkable dignity. His last word on the scaffold was: 'Remember'. The execution of a king was greeted across Europe with shock.

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In an atmosphere of greater religious tolerance and lack of censorship during the war, radical political and religious ideas flourished. The New Model Army was a hothouse for many of these ideas. It was particularly influenced by the 'Levellers', a small but vocal group who called for significant changes in society, including an extension of the franchise.

The army leadership reacted badly to challenges to their authority, and in May crushed a Leveller mutiny at Burford in Oxfordshire. Determined to subdue 'the rebellious Irish', parliament ordered Oliver Cromwell to lead a powerful expeditionary force across the Irish Sea. After landing at Dublin, Cromwell quickly moved on to storm the nearby town of Drogheda. His troops slaughtered more than 3, of the defenders in the process.

English Puritanism, 1603 1689 Social History in Perspective

Desperate to recover his father's throne, Charles I's eldest son struck a bargain with the Scots whereby he agreed to take the Covenant himself in return for the promise of Scottish military assistance. Many English royalists came in to support him, but in a hard-fought battle at Worcester, the Parliamentarian commander Oliver Cromwell defeated the young king's army. It proved to be the last major battle of the English Civil War. Charles subsequently fled into exile abroad.

English Puritans and the Puritan Reformation, 1603-1689

After the execution of Charles I, the various factions in parliament began to squabble amongst themselves. In frustration, Oliver Cromwell dismissed the purged 'Rump' parliament and summoned a new one. This also failed to deal with the complexity of the problems England was now facing. His continuing popularity with the army propped up his regime. The Spanish had ruled Jamaica since , and introduced African slaves to work in the sugar plantations. The British seized the island and continued to develop the sugar trade. During this period, many slaves escaped into the mountains.

These people became known as 'Maroons' and came to control large areas of the Jamaican interior, often launching attacks on the sugar plantations. English puritanism, Spurr, John. Published Basingstoke : Macmillan Available at Main Library. This item is not reservable because: There are no reservable copies for this title. Please contact a member of library staff for further information. Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status Lending Details Statement of responsibility : John Spurr. ISBN : X , , , , , Note : Includes bibliographical references and index.

Physical Description : x, p. Series : Social history in perspective. Subject : England Church history 17th century.