8 - State Religion and Puritan Resistance in Early Seventeenth-Century England  pp. 207-250


By Paul S. Seaver

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Late in the 1640s, an anonymous author published an account of what he termed the eleventh persecution of the Church, particularly in London, by the “Puritan Faction (so long lying like the Canaanites, as thornes in the sides of our Israel)”:

And what havoc hath been made among the Sheep, since the City-Puritan Tumults cried out no Bishops, and armed fury hath forced thousands of the Clergy from their Flocks; the almost ruins of the Church and of three Kingdoms sufficiently witnesses; a just judgment of God upon a People long contending with their Priests and mocking, and misusing the Prophets and messengers of God, till like the Jews, the wrath of God fell upon them, … and all this vengeance executed by a generation of Vipers, styling themselves … the only people of God, the meek of the earth, Christ's little flock, weak Brethren.

Such a calamity was all the more remarkable in the view of the anonymous author because “all sorts of People account[ed] the Puritan faction, a simple inconsiderate party, well meaning people, tender conscienced Christians, such as deserved pity rather than punishment, little remembering our Saviour's caveat against wolves in sheep's clothing.”

Whether the “Puritan faction” were wolves in sheep's clothing or a generation of vipers depended largely on one's allegiances; it could be argued that, being the meek, they had indeed inherited the earth, or at least for a moment that corner called England.

8

Reference Title: Part 1

Reference Type: further-reading

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Reference Title: part 3

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Anisimov, Evgenii V. The Reforms of Peter the Great: Progress Through Coercion in Russia. Armonk, NY, 1993
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Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford, 1996
Kamen, Henry. The Phoenix and the Flame: Catalonia and the Counter-Reformation. New Haven, CT, 1993
Karant-Nunn, Susan. The Reformation of Ritual: An Interpretation of Early Modern Germany. London and New York, 1997
Michels, George B. At War with the Church. Religious Dissent in Seventeenth-Century Russia. Stanford, CA, 1999
Moreton, C. E. The Townshends and Their World. Gentry, Law, and Land in Norfolk, c. 1450–1551. Oxford, 1992
Muir, Edward. Ritual in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, 1997
Myers, David. ‘Poor Sinning Folk’: Confession and Conscience in Counter-Reformation Germany. Ithaca, NY, 1996
Nalle, Sara T. God in La Mancha: Religious Reform and the People of Cuenca, 1500–1650. Baltimore and London, 1992
Nichols, Anne Eljenholm. Seeable Signs: The Iconography of the Seven Sacraments, 1350–1544. Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1994
Okenfuss, Max J. The Rise and Fall of Latin Humanism in Early-Modern Russia: Pagan Authors, Ukrainians and the Resiliency of Muscovy. Leiden, 1995
Poska, Allyson M. Regulating the People: The Catholic Reformation in Seventeenth-Century Spain. Leiden, 1998
Scribner, R. W. Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany. London, 1987

Reference Title: Epilogue

Reference Type: further-reading

Hutton, Ronald. The Rise and Fall of Merry England: The Ritual Year, 1400–1700. Oxford, 1994
Orme, Nicholas. The Saints of Cornwall. Oxford, 2000
Whiting, Robert. The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular Religion and the English Reformation. Cambridge, 1989