"Puritan" redirects here.
For other uses, see Puritan (disambiguation).
The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and should become more Protestant.
Puritanism played a significant role in English history, especially during the Protectorate.
Puritans were dissatisfied with the limited extent of the English Reformation and with the Church of England's toleration of certain practices associated with the Roman Catholic Church.
In church polity, some advocated separation from all other established Christian denominations in favour of autonomous gathered churches.
These Separatist and independent strands of Puritanism became prominent in the 1640s, when the supporters of a presbyterian polity in the Westminster Assembly were unable to forge a new English national church.
By the late 1630s, Puritans were in alliance with the growing commercial world, with the parliamentary opposition to the royal prerogative, and with the Scottish Presbyterians with whom they had much in common.
Consequently, they became a major political force in England and came to power as a result of the First English Civil War (1642–1646).
The nature of the movement in England changed radically, although it retained its character for a much longer period in New England.
Puritanism was never a formally defined religious division within Protestantism, and the term Puritan itself was rarely used after the turn of the 18th century.
Some Puritan ideals, including the formal rejection of Roman Catholicism, were incorporated into the doctrines of the Church of England; others were absorbed into the many Protestant denominations that emerged in the late 17th and early 18th centuries in North America and Britain.
The Congregational churches, widely considered to be a part of the Reformed tradition, are descended from the Puritans.
Main article: Definitions of Puritanism
In the 17th century, the word Puritan was a term applied not to just one group but to many.
Historians still debate a precise definition of Puritanism.
Originally, Puritan was a pejorative term characterizing certain Protestant groups as extremist.
Thomas Fuller, in his Church History, dates the first use of the word to 1564.
Archbishop Matthew Parker of that time used it and precisian with a sense similar to the modern .
Puritans, then, were distinguished for being "more intensely protestant than their protestant neighbors or even the Church of England".
As a term of abuse, Puritan was not used by Puritans themselves.
Those referred to as Puritan called themselves terms such as "the godly", "saints", "professors", or "God's children".
"Non-separating Puritans" were dissatisfied with the Reformation of the Church of England but remained within it, advocating for further reform; they disagreed among themselves about how much further reformation was possible or even necessary.
They were later termed "Nonconformists".
In its widest historical sense, the term Puritan includes both groups.
Puritans should not be confused with more radical Protestant groups of the 16th and 17th centuries, such as Quakers, Seekers, and Familists, who believed that individuals could be directly guided by the Holy Spirit and prioritized direct revelation over the Bible.
In current English, puritan often means "against pleasure".
Puritans embraced sexuality but placed it in the context of marriage.
Peter Gay writes of the Puritans' standard reputation for "dour prudery" as a "misreading that went unquestioned in the nineteenth century", commenting how unpuritanical they were in favour of married sexuality, and in opposition to the Catholic veneration of virginity, citing Edward Taylor and John Cotton.
One Puritan settlement in western Massachusetts banished a husband because he refused to fulfill his sexual duties to his wife.
Main article: History of the Puritans
Puritanism had a historical importance over a period of a century, followed by fifty years of development in New England.
It changed character and emphasis almost decade by decade over that time.
Further information: History of the Puritans under Elizabeth I
Nevertheless, it preserved certain characteristics of medieval Catholicism, such as cathedrals, church choirs, a formal liturgy contained in the Book of Common Prayer, traditional clerical vestments and episcopal polity.
Many English Protestants—especially those former Marian exiles now returning home to work as clergy and bishops—considered the settlement merely the first step in reforming England's church.
The years of exile during the Marian Restoration had exposed them to practices of the Continental Reformed churches, and the most impatient clergy began introducing reforms within their local parishes.
The initial conflict between Puritans and the authorities included instances of nonconformity such as omitting parts of the liturgy to allow more time for the sermon and singing of metrical psalms.
Puritan clergymen preferred to wear black academic attire.
During the vestments controversy, church authorities attempted and failed to enforce the use of clerical vestments.
While never a mass movement, the Puritans had the support and protection of powerful patrons in the aristocracy.
In the 1570s, the primary dispute between Puritans and the authorities was over the appropriate form of church government.
Many Puritans believed the Church of England should follow the example of Reformed churches in other parts of Europe and adopt presbyterian polity, under which government by bishops would be replaced with government by elders.
However, all attempts to enact further reforms through Parliament were blocked by the Queen.
Despite such setbacks, Puritan leaders such as John Field and Thomas Cartwright continued to promote presbyterianism through the formation of unofficial clerical conferences that allowed Puritan clergymen to organise and network.
This covert Puritan network was discovered and dismantled during the Marprelate controversy.
For the remainder of Elizabeth's reign, Puritans ceased to agitate for further reform.
Further information: History of the Puritans under James I
The accession of James I to the English throne brought the Millenary Petition, a Puritan manifesto of 1603 for reform of the English church, but James wanted a religious settlement along different lines.
He was well informed on theological matters by his education and Scottish upbringing, and he dealt shortly with the peevish legacy of Elizabethan Puritanism, pursuing an eirenic religious policy, in which he was arbiter.
Many of James's episcopal appointments were Calvinists, notably James Montague, who was an influential courtier.
Puritans still opposed much of the Roman Catholic summation in the Church of England, notably the Book of Common Prayer but also the use of non-secular vestments (cap and gown) during services, the sign of the Cross in baptism, and kneeling to receive Holy Communion.
Some of the bishops under both Elizabeth and James tried to suppress Puritanism, though other bishops were more tolerant and, in many places, individual ministers were able to omit disliked portions of the Book of Common Prayer.
The Puritan movement of Jacobean times became distinctive by adaptation and compromise, with the emergence of "semi-separatism", "moderate puritanism", the writings of William Bradshaw (who adopted the term "Puritan" for himself), and the beginnings of Congregationalism.
Most Puritans of this period were non-separating and remained within the Church of England; Separatists who left the Church of England altogether were numerically much fewer.
Fragmentation and political failure
Further information: History of the Puritans from 1649
The Puritan movement in England was riven over decades by emigration and inconsistent interpretations of Scripture, as well as some political differences that surfaced at that time.
The Fifth Monarchy Men, a radical millenarian wing of Puritanism, aided by strident, popular clergy like Vavasor Powell, agitated from the right wing of the movement, even as sectarian groups like the Ranters, Levellers, and Quakers pulled from the left.
The fragmentation created a collapse of the centre and, ultimately, sealed a political failure, while depositing an enduring spiritual legacy that would remain and grow in English-speaking Christianity.
The Westminster Assembly was called in 1643, assembling clergy of the Church of England.
The Assembly was able to agree to the Westminster Confession of Faith doctrinally, a consistent Reformed theological position.
In England, the Standards were contested by Independents up to 1660.
The Church of England of the Interregnum (1649–60) was run along Presbyterian lines but never became a national Presbyterian church, such as existed in Scotland, and England was not the theocratic state which leading Puritans had called for as "godly rule".
Great Ejection and Dissenters
Further information: History of the Puritans from 1649
The Dissenters divided themselves from all Christians in the Church of England and established their own Separatist congregations in the 1660s and 1670s.
An estimated 1,800 of the ejected clergy continued in some fashion as ministers of religion, according to Richard Baxter.
The government initially attempted to suppress these schismatic organisations by using the Clarendon Code.
There followed a period in which schemes of "comprehension" were proposed, under which Presbyterians could be brought back into the Church of England, but nothing resulted from them.
The Whigs opposed the court religious policies and argued that the Dissenters should be allowed to worship separately from the established Church, and this position ultimately prevailed when the Toleration Act was passed in the wake of the Glorious Revolution in 1689.
This permitted the licensing of Dissenting ministers and the building of chapels.
The term "Nonconformist" generally replaced the term "Dissenter" from the middle of the 18th century.
Puritans in North America
Further information: History of the Puritans in North America
Some Puritans left for New England, particularly from 1629 to 1640 (the Eleven Years' Tyranny under King Charles I), supporting the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and other settlements among the northern colonies.
The large-scale Puritan immigration to New England ceased by 1641, with around 21,000 having moved across the Atlantic.
This English-speaking population in the United States was not descended from all of the original colonists, since many returned to England shortly after arriving on the continent, but it produced more than 16 million descendants.
The rapid growth of the New England colonies (around 700,000 by 1790) was almost entirely due to the high birth rate and lower death rate per year.
Puritan hegemony lasted for at least a century.
That century can be broken down into three parts: the generation of John Cotton and Richard Mather, 1630–62 from the founding to the Restoration, years of virtual independence and nearly autonomous development; the generation of Increase Mather, 1662–89 from the Restoration and the Halfway Covenant to the Glorious Revolution, years of struggle with the British crown; and the generation of Cotton Mather, 1689–1728 from the overthrow of Edmund Andros (in which Cotton Mather played a part) and the new charter, mediated by Increase Mather, to the death of Cotton Mather.
The Puritans in the Colonies were great believers in education.
They wanted their children to be able to read the Bible themselves, and interpret it themselves, rather than have to have a clergyman tell them what it says and means.
This then leads to thinking for themselves, which is the basis of democracy.
The Puritans in the Colonies almost immediately after arriving in 1630, set up schools for their sons.
They also set up what were called dame schools for their daughters, and in other cases taught their daughters at home how to read.
As a result, Puritans were the most literate society in the world.
By the time of the American Revolution there were 40 newspapers in the United States (at a time when there were only two cities – New York and Philadelphia – with as many as 20,000 people in them).
The Puritans also set up a college (Harvard University) only six years after arriving in the United States.
By the time of the Revolution, the United States had 10 colleges (when England had only two).
Main article: Calvinism
Puritanism broadly refers to a diverse religious reform movement in Britain committed to the continental Reformed tradition.
The concept of covenant was extremely important to Puritans, and covenant theology was central to their beliefs.
With roots in the writings of Reformed theologians John Calvin and Heinrich Bullinger, covenant theology was further developed by Puritan theologians Dudley Fenner, William Perkins, John Preston, Richard Sibbes, William Ames and, most fully by Ames's Dutch student, Johannes Cocceius.
As sinners, every person deserved damnation.
No one, however, could merit salvation.
According to covenant theology, Christ's sacrifice on the cross made possible the covenant of grace, by which those selected by God could be saved.
Covenant theology made individual salvation deeply personal.
It held that God's predestination was not "impersonal and mechanical" but was a "covenant of grace" that one entered into by faith.
Therefore, being a Christian could never be reduced to simple "intellectual acknowledgment" of the truth of Christianity.
Early on, Puritans did not consider a specific conversion experience normative or necessary, but many gained assurance of salvation from such experiences.
Over time, however, Puritan theologians developed a framework for authentic religious experience based on their own experiences as well as those of their parishioners.
Eventually, Puritans came to regard a specific conversion experience as an essential mark of one's election.
The Puritan conversion experience was commonly described as occurring in discrete phases.
This was followed by humiliation, when the sinner realized that he or she was helpless to break free from sin and that their good works could never earn forgiveness.
It was after reaching this point—the realization that salvation was possible only because of divine mercy—that the person would experience justification, when the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the elect and their minds and hearts are regenerated.
For some Puritans, this was a dramatic experience and they referred to it as being born again.
Confirming that such a conversion had actually happened often required prolonged and continual introspection.
It was expected that conversion would be followed by sanctification—"the progressive growth in the saint's ability to better perceive and seek God's will, and thus to lead a holy life".
Some Puritans attempted to find assurance of their faith by keeping detailed records of their behavior and looking for the evidence of salvation in their lives.
Puritan clergy wrote many spiritual guides to help their parishioners pursue personal piety and sanctification.
These included Arthur Dent's The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven (1601), Richard Rogers's Seven Treatises (1603), Henry Scudder's Christian's Daily Walk (1627) and Richard Sibbes's The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax (1630).
Many Puritans relied on both personal religious experience and self-examination to assess their spiritual condition.
Puritanism's experiential piety would be inherited by the evangelical Protestants of the 18th century.
While evangelical views on conversion were heavily influenced by Puritan theology, the Puritans believed that assurance of one's salvation was "rare, late and the fruit of struggle in the experience of believers", whereas evangelicals believed that assurance was normative for all the truly converted.
Worship and sacraments
Further information: Reformed baptismal theology
While most Puritans were members of the Church of England, they were critical of its worship practices.
In the 17th century, Sunday worship in the established church took the form of the Morning Prayer service in the Book of Common Prayer.
This might include a sermon, but Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper was only occasionally observed.
Officially, lay people were only required to receive communion three times a year, but most people only received communion once a year at Easter.
Puritans were concerned about biblical errors and Catholic remnants within the prayer book.
Puritans objected to bowing at the name of Jesus, the requirement that priests wear the surplice, and the use of written, set prayers in place of improvised prayers.
The sermon was central to Puritan piety.
It was not only a means of religious education; Puritans believed it was the most common way that God prepared a sinner's heart for conversion.
On Sundays, Puritan ministers often shortened the liturgy to allow more time for preaching.
Puritan churchgoers attended two sermons on Sundays and as many weekday sermons and lectures they could find, often traveling for miles.
Puritans were distinct for their adherence to Sabbatarianism.
Puritans taught that there were two sacraments: baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Puritans agreed with the church's practice of infant baptism.
However, the effect of baptism was disputed.
Puritans objected to the prayer book's assertion of baptismal regeneration.
It could not be assumed that baptism produces regeneration.
The Westminster Confession states that the grace of baptism is only effective for those who are among the elect, and its effects lie dormant until one experiences conversion later in life.
Puritans also objected to priests making the sign of the cross in baptism.
Private baptisms were opposed because Puritans believed that preaching should always accompany sacraments.
Some Puritan clergy even refused to baptise dying infants because that implied the sacrament contributed to salvation.
Instead, Puritans embraced the Reformed doctrine of real spiritual presence, believing that in the Lord's Supper the faithful receive Christ spiritually.
In agreement with Thomas Cranmer, the Puritans stressed "that Christ comes down to us in the sacrament by His Word and Spirit, offering Himself as our spiritual food and drink".
They criticised the prayer book service for being too similar to the Catholic mass.
For example, the requirement that people kneel to receive communion implied adoration of the Eucharist, a practice linked to transubstantiation.
Puritans also criticised the Church of England for allowing unrepentant sinners to receive communion.
Puritans wanted better spiritual preparation (such as clergy home visits and testing people on their knowledge of the catechism) for communion and better church discipline to ensure that the unworthy were kept from the sacrament.
Puritans did not believe confirmation was necessary and thought candidates were poorly prepared since bishops did not have the time to examine them properly.
The marriage service was criticised for using a wedding ring (which implied that marriage was a sacrament) and having the groom vow to his bride "with my body I thee worship", which Puritans considered blasphemous.
In the funeral service, the priest committed the body to the ground "in sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Puritans objected to this phrase because they did not believe it was true for everyone.
They suggested it be rewritten as "we commit his body [etc.] believing a resurrection of the just and unjust, some to joy, and some to punishment."
Puritans eliminated choral music and musical instruments in their religious services because these were associated with Roman Catholicism; however, singing the Psalms was considered appropriate (see Exclusive psalmody).
Church organs were commonly damaged or destroyed in the Civil War period, such as when an axe was taken to the organ of Worcester Cathedral in 1642.
While the Puritans were united in their goal of furthering the English Reformation, they were always divided over issues of ecclesiology and church polity, specifically questions relating to the manner of organizing congregations, how individual congregations should relate with one another and whether established national churches were scriptural.
The episcopalians (known as the prelatical party) were conservatives who supported retaining bishops if those leaders supported reform and agreed to share power with local churches.
They also supported the idea of having a Book of Common Prayer, but they were against demanding strict conformity or having too much ceremony.
Like the episcopalians, the presbyterians agreed that there should be a national church but one structured on the model of the Church of Scotland.
During the Interregnum, the presbyterians had limited success at reorganizing the Church of England.
As a result, the Church of England never developed a complete presbyterian hierarchy.
Members would be required to abide by a church covenant, in which they "pledged to join in the proper worship of God and to nourish each other in the search for further religious truth".
Such churches were regarded as complete within themselves, with full authority to determine their own membership, administer their own discipline and ordain their own ministers.
Furthermore, the sacraments would only be administered to those in the church covenant.
Most congregational Puritans remained within the Church of England, hoping to reform it according to their own views.
The New England Congregationalists were also adamant that they were not separating from the Church of England.
However, some Puritans equated the Church of England with the Roman Catholic Church, and therefore considered it no Christian church at all.
These groups, such as the Brownists, would split from the established church and become known as Separatists.
Based on Biblical portrayals of Adam and Eve, Puritans believed that marriage was rooted in procreation, love, and, most importantly, salvation.
Husbands were the spiritual heads of the household, while women were to demonstrate religious piety and obedience under male authority.
Furthermore, marriage represented not only the relationship between husband and wife, but also the relationship between spouses and God.
Puritan husbands commanded authority through family direction and prayer.
The female relationship to her husband and to God was marked by submissiveness and humility.
Thomas Gataker describes Puritan marriage as:
The paradox created by female inferiority in the public sphere and the spiritual equality of men and women in marriage, then, gave way to the informal authority of women concerning matters of the home and childrearing.
With the consent of their husbands, wives made important decisions concerning the labour of their children, property, and the management of inns and taverns owned by their husbands.
Pious Puritan mothers laboured for their children's righteousness and salvation, connecting women directly to matters of religion and morality.
In her poem titled "In Reference to her Children", poet Anne Bradstreet reflects on her role as a mother:
Bradstreet alludes to the temporality of motherhood by comparing her children to a flock of birds on the precipice of leaving home.
While Puritans praised the obedience of young children, they also believed that, by separating children from their mothers at adolescence, children could better sustain a superior relationship with God.
A child could only be redeemed through religious education and obedience.
Girls carried the additional burden of Eve's corruption and were catechised separately from boys at adolescence.
Boys' education prepared them for vocations and leadership roles, while girls were educated for domestic and religious purposes.
The pinnacle of achievement for children in Puritan society, however, occurred with the conversion process.
Puritans viewed the relationship between master and servant similarly to that of parent and child.
Just as parents were expected to uphold Puritan religious values in the home, masters assumed the parental responsibility of housing and educating young servants.
Older servants also dwelt with masters and were cared for in the event of illness or injury.
African-American and Indian servants were likely excluded from such benefits.
Demonology and witch hunts
Further information: Christian demonology
There was also widespread belief in witchcraft and witches—persons in league with the devil.
"Unexplained phenomena such as the death of livestock, human disease, and hideous fits suffered by young and old" might all be blamed on the agency of the devil or a witch.
Samuel Harsnett, a skeptic on witchcraft and possession, attacked Darrell.
However, Harsnett was in the minority, and many clergy, not only Puritans, believed in witchcraft and possession.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands of people throughout Europe were accused of being witches and executed.
In England and the United States, Puritans engaged in witch hunts as well.
In the 1640s, Matthew Hopkins, the self-proclaimed "Witchfinder General", was responsible for accusing over two hundred people of witchcraft, mainly in East Anglia.
In New England, few people were accused and convicted of witchcraft before 1692; there were at most sixteen convictions.
The Salem witch trials of 1692 had a lasting impact on the historical reputation of New England Puritans.
Though this witch hunt occurred after Puritans lost political control of the Massachusetts colony, Puritans instigated the judicial proceedings against the accused and comprised the members of the court that convicted and sentenced the accused.
By the time Governor William Phips ended the trials, fourteen women and five men had been hanged as witches.
Further information: Christian eschatology
Puritan millennialism has been placed in the broader context of European Reformed beliefs about the millennium and interpretation of biblical prophecy, for which representative figures of the period were Johannes Piscator, Thomas Brightman, Joseph Mede, Johannes Heinrich Alsted, and John Amos Comenius.
Protestant theologians identified the sequential phases the world must pass through before the Last Judgment could occur and tended to place their own time period near the end.
It was expected that tribulation and persecution would increase but eventually the church's enemies—the Antichrist (identified with the Roman Catholic Church) and the Ottoman Empire—would be defeated.
Based on Revelation 20, it was believed that a thousand-year period (the millennium) would occur, during which the saints would rule with Christ on earth.
In contrast to other Protestants who tended to view eschatology as an explanation for "God's remote plans for the world and man", Puritans understood it to describe "the cosmic environment in which the regenerate soldier of Christ was now to do battle against the power of sin".
On a personal level, eschatology was related to sanctification, assurance of salvation, and the conversion experience.
On a larger level, eschatology was the lens through which events such as the English Civil War and the Thirty Years' War were interpreted.
There was also an optimistic aspect to Puritan millennianism; Puritans anticipated a future worldwide religious revival before the Second Coming of Christ.
David Brady describes a "lull before the storm" in the early 17th century, in which "reasonably restrained and systematic" Protestant exegesis of the Book of Revelation was seen with Brightman, Mede, and Hugh Broughton, after which "apocalyptic literature became too easily debased" as it became more populist and less scholarly.
William Lamont argues that, within the church, the Elizabethan millennial beliefs of John Foxe became sidelined, with Puritans adopting instead the "centrifugal" doctrines of Thomas Brightman, while the Laudians replaced the "centripetal" attitude of Foxe to the "Christian Emperor" by the national and episcopal Church closer to home, with its royal head, as leading the Protestant world iure divino (by divine right).
Viggo Norskov Olsen writes that Mede "broke fully away from the Augustinian-Foxian tradition, and is the link between Brightman and the premillennialism of the 17th century".
The dam broke in 1641 when the traditional retrospective reverence for Thomas Cranmer and other martyred bishops in the Acts and Monuments was displaced by forward-looking attitudes to prophecy among radical Puritans.
Further information: New England Puritan culture and recreation
Some strong religious beliefs common to Puritans had direct impacts on culture.
Puritans believed it was the government's responsibility to enforce moral standards and ensure true religious worship was established and maintained.
Education was essential to every person, male and female, so that they could read the Bible for themselves.
However, the Puritans' emphasis on individual spiritual independence was not always compatible with the community cohesion that was also a strong ideal.
Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643), the well educated daughter of a teacher, argued with the established theological orthodoxy, and was forced to leave colonial New England with her followers.
Further information: History of education in the United States
At a time when the literacy rate in England was less than 30 percent, the Puritan leaders of colonial New England believed children should be educated for both religious and civil reasons, and they worked to achieve universal literacy.
In 1642, Massachusetts required heads of households to teach their wives, children and servants basic reading and writing so that they could read the Bible and understand colonial laws.
In 1647, the government required all towns with 50 or more households to hire a teacher and towns of 100 or more households to hire a grammar school instructor to prepare promising boys for college.
Philemon Pormort's Boston Latin School was the only one in Boston, the first school of public instruction in Massachusetts ".
Aspiring lawyers or doctors apprenticed to a local practitioner, or in rare cases were sent to England or Scotland.
Similar to Max Weber's famous claim on the link between the Protestant work ethic and the capitalist economy, Merton argued for a similar positive correlation between the rise of English Puritanism, as well as German Pietism, and early experimental science.
As an example, seven of 10 nucleus members of the Royal Society were Puritans.
In the year 1663, 62 percent of the members of the Royal Society were similarly identified.
The Merton Thesis has resulted in continuous debates.
Further information: Christmas in Puritan New England
Puritans in both England and New England believed that the state should protect and promote true religion and that religion should influence politics and social life.
Certain holidays were outlawed when Puritans came to power.
Christmas was outlawed in Boston from 1659.
Puritans objected to Christmas because the festivities surrounding the holiday were seen as impious.
(English jails were usually filled with drunken revelers and brawlers.)
Puritans were opposed to Sunday sport or recreation because these distracted from religious observance of the Sabbath.
Other forms of leisure and entertainment were completely forbidden on moral grounds.
For similar reasons, they also opposed boxing.
These sports were illegal in England during Puritan rule.
While card playing by itself was generally considered acceptable, card playing and gambling were banned in England and the colonies, as was mixed dancing involving men and women because it was thought to lead to fornication.
Folk dance that did not involve close contact between men and women was considered appropriate.
In New England, the first dancing school did not open until the end of the 17th century.
Puritans condemned the sexualization of the theatre and its associations with depravity and prostitution—London's theatres were located on the south side of the Thames, which was a center of prostitution.
Puritan authorities shut down English theatres in the 1640s and 1650s, and none were allowed to open in Puritan-controlled colonies.
Puritans were not opposed to drinking alcohol in moderation.
However, alehouses were closely regulated by Puritan-controlled governments in both England and the United States.
Early New England laws banning the sale of alcohol to Native Americans were criticised because it was "not fit to deprive Indians of any lawfull comfort aloweth to all men by the use of wine".
Laws banned the practice of individuals toasting each other, with the explanation that it led to wasting God's gift of beer and wine, as well as being carnal.
Bounds were not set on enjoying sexuality within the bounds of marriage, as a gift from God.
Spouses were disciplined if they did not perform their sexual marital duties, in accordance with 1 Corinthians 7 and other biblical passages.
Women and men were equally expected to fulfill marital responsibilities.
Women and men could file for divorce based on this issue alone.
In Massachusetts colony, which had some of the most liberal colonial divorce laws, one out of every six divorce petitions was filed on the basis on male impotence.
Puritans publicly punished drunkenness and sexual relations outside marriage.
Couples who had sex during their engagement were fined and publicly humiliated.
Men, and a handful of women, who engaged in homosexual behavior, were seen as especially sinful, with some executed.
Puritan rule in England was marked by limited religious toleration.
There was no longer a legal requirement to attend the parish church on Sundays (for both Protestants and Catholics).
In 1653, responsibility for recording births, marriages and deaths was transferred from the church to a civil registrar.
The result was that church baptisms and marriages became private acts, not guarantees of legal rights, which provided greater equality to dissenters.
The 1653 Instrument of Government guaranteed that in matters of religion "none shall be compelled by penalties or otherwise, but endeavours be used to win them by sound Doctrine and the Example of a good conversation".
Religious freedom was given to "all who profess Faith in God by Jesus Christ".
However, Catholics and some others were excluded.
No one was executed for their religion during the Protectorate.
In London, those attending Catholic mass or Anglican holy communion were occasionally arrested but released without charge.
Many unofficial Protestant congregations, such as Baptist churches, were permitted to meet.
Quakers were allowed to publish freely and hold meetings.
They were, however, arrested for disrupting parish church services and organising tithe-strikes against the state church.
The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were the most active of the New England persecutors of Quakers, and the persecuting spirit was shared by the Plymouth Colony and the colonies along the Connecticut river.
Four Quakers, known as the Boston martyrs, were executed.
The first two of the four Boston martyrs were executed by the Puritans on 27 October 1659, and in memory of this, 27 October is now International Religious Freedom Day to recognise the importance of freedom of religion.
In 1660, one of the most notable victims of the religious intolerance was English Quaker Mary Dyer, who was hanged in Boston for repeatedly defying a Puritan law banning Quakers from the colony.
The hanging of Dyer on Boston Common marked the beginning of the end of the Puritan theocracy.
In 1661, King Charles II explicitly forbade Massachusetts from executing anyone for professing Quakerism.
Anti-Catholic sentiment appeared in New England with the first Pilgrim and Puritan settlers.
In 1647, Massachusetts passed a law prohibiting any Jesuit Roman Catholic priests from entering territory under Puritan jurisdiction.
Any suspected person who could not clear himself was to be banished from the colony; a second offense carried a death penalty.
Puritanism has attracted much scholarly attention, and as a result, the secondary literature on the subject is vast.
Puritanism is considered crucial to understanding the religious, political and cultural issues of early modern England.
In addition, historians such as Perry Miller have regarded Puritan New England as fundamental to understanding American culture and identity.
A debate continues on the definition of "Puritanism".
English historian Patrick Collinson argues that "There is little point in constructing elaborate statements defining what, in ontological terms, puritanism was and what it was not, when it was not a thing definable in itself but only one half of a stressful relationship."
Puritanism "was only the mirror image of anti-puritanism and to a considerable extent its invention: a stigma, with great power to distract and distort historical memory."
Historian John Spurr writes that Puritans were defined by their relationships with their surroundings, especially with the Church of England.
Whenever the Church of England changed, Spurr argues, the definition of a Puritan also changed.
The analysis of "mainstream Puritanism" in terms of the evolution from it of Separatist and antinomian groups that did not flourish, and others that continue to this day, such as Baptists and Quakers, can suffer in this way.
The national context (England and Wales, as well as the kingdoms of Scotland and Ireland) frames the definition of Puritans, but was not a self-identification for those Protestants who saw the progress of the Thirty Years' War from 1620 as directly bearing on their denomination, and as a continuation of the religious wars of the previous century, carried on by the English Civil Wars.
English historian Christopher Hill, who has contributed to analyses of Puritan concerns that are more respected than accepted, writes of the 1630s, old church lands, and the accusations that William Laud was a crypto-Catholic:
Main article: List of Puritans
- Peter Bulkley was an influential Puritan minister and founder of Concord.
- John Bunyan was famous for The Pilgrim's Progress.
- William Bradford was Plymouth Colony's Governor.
- Anne Bradstreet was the first female to have her works published in the British North American colonies.
- Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader and eventually became Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was a very religious man and was considered an independent Puritan.
- John Endecott was the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and an important military leader.
- Jonathan Edwards, evangelical preacher who sparked the First Great Awakening
- Thomas Hooker was a Puritan minister and co-founder of the Connecticut Colony.
- Anne Hutchinson was a Puritan woman noted for speaking freely about her religious views, which resulted in her banishment from Massachusetts Bay Colony.
- John Milton is regarded as among the greatest English poets; author of epics like Paradise Lost, and dramas like Samson Agonistes. He was a staunch supporter of Cromwell.
- James Noyes was an influential Puritan minister, teacher and founder of Newbury.
- Philip Nye (minister) was the key adviser to Oliver Cromwell on matters of religion and regulation of the Church.
- Thomas Parker was an influential Puritan minister, teacher and founder of Newbury.
- John Winthrop is noted for his sermon "A Model of Christian Charity" and as a leading figure in founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
- Robert Woodford was an English lawyer, largely based at Northampton and London. His diary for the period 1637–1641 records in detail the outlook of an educated Puritan.
- Christianity in the 16th century
- Christianity in the 17th century
- Plymouth Rock
- Work ethic
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puritans.