Ch 07 Origin of the English Revolution

Chapter 07: Origin of the English Revolution -Pt 4 The Puritans

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PURITANS WERE NOT ONE UNITED SECT. STILL INSIDE THE CHURCH, MOST WANTED FEW CHANGES TO THEOLOGICAL THINKING.

 

SOME WISHED TO REPLACE THE ANGLICAN STATE CHURCH BY A PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ON THE MODEL OF THE SCOTTISH KIRK.

 

SOME SMALL SECTS, WHO WERE RELIGIOUS ANARCHISTS, WISHED TO LEAVE EVERY CONGREGATION FREE TO SETTLE THEIR OWN AFFAIRS – THE QUAKERS, CONGREGATIONALISTS AND BAPTISTS OF LATER TIMES.

THE POLITICAL RADICALISM OF THE PURITAN GREW NATURALLY FROM HIS RELATION TO GOD: THE LORD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE; ‘THE ELECT’.

THEIR TRIUMPH WAS INEVITABLE, AND THEIR ENEMIES WERE GOD’S ENEMIES.

GOD GAVE THEM CURIOUS WEAPONS INDEED.

BUTLER'S MALICIOUS PICTURE OF PURITANS DRAWN TO AMUSE THE CAVALIERS IN 1660  

“FOUND THEIR CHURCH UPON
THE HOLY TEXT OF PIKE AND GUN.” THERE WAS ALSO MILTON’S “TRUE WARFARING CHRISTIANS.”

THEIR DRESS DID NOT ALWAYS REFLECT THAT OF A PURITAN. A DESCRIPTION OF CROMWELL WAS NOT ONE OF CLOSE CROPPED HAIR AND SOBER COLOURED CLOTHES, BUT OF PLAIN DRESS.

 

CROMWELL WAS THE TYPICAL PURITAN SQUIRE. RELATED TO HENRY VIII’S MINISTER, HIS FAMILY GREW RICH ON CHURCH LANDS, YET HE HAD A GOOD REPUTATION AS A DEFENDER OF THE RIGHTS OF HIS POORER NEIGHBOURS IN THE COUNTRY OF HUNTINGDON.

AT THE BEGINNING OF JAMES I’S REIGN, A PETITION ASKED FOR MODERATE LIBERTY TO ACCEPT OR REJECT CERTAIN MINOR POINTS OF RITUAL, SUCH AS WEARING OF THE SURPLICE OR USE OF THE SIGN OF THE CROSS IN BAPTISM, OR THE OBSERVANCE OF SAINT’S DAYS.

 

JAMES’S OPPOSITION WAS POLITICAL, DUE TO HIS BITTER EXPERIENCES WITH THE SCOTTISH KIRK AND ITS INCOMPATIBILITY WITH ROYAL ABSOLUTISM.

 

HE PURGED THE CHURCH, IN WHICH 300 CLERGY WERE DEPRIVED OF THEIR LIVING.

 

IT WEAKENED THE CHURCH AND ISOLATED THE INFLUENTIAL GROUP OF HIGH ANGLICANS WHO GATHERED AROUND LAUD.

 

(Archbishop William Laud [7 October 1573 to 10 January 1645] was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1645. One of the High Church Caroline divines, he opposed radical forms of Puritanism. This, and his support for King Charles I, resulted in his beheading in the midst of the English Civil War)

THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH LOST MUCH OF ITS POPULAR APPEAL, AND THE CROWN LOST SUPPORT FOR A RALLY TO WAR, WHENEVER THAT MIGHT BE.

LAUD, HONEST BUT OUT OF TOUCH, TRIED TO DRAGOON THE CHURCH INTO WHAT LOOKED LIKE PAPISTRY WHEN IT WAS UNPOPULAR.

 

THE USE OF PARISH CHURCHES AS PLACES OF MEETINGS AND BUSINESS WAS PROHIBITED.

BETWEEN 1628 AND 1640, SOME 20,000 PURITANS EMIGRATED TO NEW ENGLAND TO ESCAPE WHAT THEY THOUGHT WAS A RETURN TO CATHOLICISM.
SOME WERE DRIVEN INTO SECRET SOCIETIES. OTHERS CONFORMED, WAITING FOR BETTER TIMES.

 

BY 1637, LAUD TURNED HIS ATTENTION TO SCOTLAND. A NEW PRAYER BOOK WAS MET WITH RIOTOUS RESISTANCE.

CHARLES I WAS FACING A REVOLT IN 1638 AND THE NECESSITY OF RECONQUERING SCOTLAND BY FORCE OF ARMS, BUT HE HAD LITTLE MONEY.

SIR THOMAS WENTWORTH, A CAPABLE MINISTER, LATER THE EARL OF STRAFFORD, ADVISED RECALLING PARLIAMENT.

 

IN 1640, A SHORT PARLIAMENT WAS CALLED, SITTING FOR ONLY TWO WEEKS. INSTEAD OF VOTING SUPPLIES, UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF PYM, IT BEGAN TO ORGANISE A PETITION AGAINST THE SCOTTISH WAR AND WAS DISSOLVED AT ONCE.

AN ARMY OF SORTS MARCHED NORTH, TO FIND THE SCOTS OCCUPYING ALL OF NORTHUMBERLAND AND FAR TOO STRONG TO BE ATTACKED.

 

CHARLES MADE A TRUCE, PROMISING TO RESPECT ALL SCOTTISH POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES AND TO PAY FOR THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE ARMY FROM NORTHUMBERLAND. PENDING PAYMENT, THE SCOTS REMAINED AT NEWCASTLE.

 

PARLIAMENTARY WRITS WENT OUT SUMMONING MEMBERS, BUT STRAFFORD PLANNED TO ARREST THE LEADING FIGURES BY ARMED FORCE.

 

THE MEETING OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT IN 1640 SIGNALLED THE RENEWAL OF THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN KING AND COMMONS TO A HIGHER PLANE THAN BEFORE.

 

EVENTS MOVED TO ARMED STRUGGLE QUICKLY, AND PARLIAMENT BECAME A REVOLUTIONARY TRIBUNAL IN EFFECT.

 

FOR TWO YEARS, THE OPPOSING FORCES FACED EACH OTHER, AND THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION MAY BE SAID TO HAVE BEGUN IN NOVEMBER 1640 WITH THE IMPEACHMENT OF STRAFFORD.

IT IS NOW TIME TO PAUSE AND CONSIDER BRIEFLY THE NATURE OF THE ISSUES INVOLVED.

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