The Puritan Threat

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John Whitgift, Archbishop of Caterbury

  • made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1583
  • only clergyman on the Privy Council
  • likened Puritans to 'Papists, Anabaptists and Rebels', and disaproved of anyone sympathetic to Puritans
  • fully supported the Queen
  • produced pamphlets which defended royal supremacy and the 1559 settlement
  • issued 3 articles to which the clergy had to subscribe : accept royal supremacy, agree that the prayer book contained 'nothing contrary to the Word of God' and accept that the 39 Articles of Religion conformed to the Word of God (But eventually had to agree to a modified version of these as long as clergy agreed to use the prayer book)
  • secured the deprivation of Prebyterian sympathisers Gifford and Cartwright
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Dr. Thomas Cartwright

  • in a series of lectures in 1571 questioned episcopacy and Bishops
  • considered to be the spiritual leader of the Presbyterian movement
  • influenced the Admonitions to Parliament in 1572
  • sacked by Whitgift for his lectures
  • according to historian Collinson was 'the true progenitor'
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Admonitions to Parliament - 1572

1st Admonition

  • by Field and Wilcox, two young supporters of Cartwright
  • attacked kneeling, Holy Days, the Book of Common Prayer and Church hierarchy
  • Field and Wilcox were arrested and sentenced to a years imprisonment

2nd Admonition

  • attributed to Cartwright but probably written by Goodman
  • simply described the Presbyteriam system of Chuch (based on Calvin's Genevan model i.e. Elders, Decons, Pastors)
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  • used as an insulting name to those Protestants who called themselves 'the Elect' or 'the Godly'
  • historian Tillbrook argues that ELizabeth saw the reformation as an assertion of secular power whereas for some, like the Puritans, it was seens as the clensing of the Church to make it a 'more effective instrument of God's will'
  • did not break away from the mainstream Church of England
  • only disliked the Catholic traces remaining in the Elizabethan Church
  • like many English Catholics they attended CofE services and remained loyal to their Queen (mostly)
  • Elizabeth's CofE doctrine was largely Calvinist and so the Puritans did not object on the basis of doctrine
  • Puritanism as a wider movement declined from the late 1580's due to the deaths of many supporters like Walsingham and Leicester AND the defeat of the Spanish Armada reduced the percieved threat of Catholicism and brought more people to the CofE
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  • were willing to work with the Queen
  • Privy Councillors Walsingham and Liester were sympathetic yet remained loyal to Elizabteh
  • attended Church
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  • wanted a Calvinist Church struture of elders and decons etc. (believed congregations should elect ministers and assemblies of clergy at a local and national level should make decisions=  royal supremacy unneccessary)
  • wanted  better educated clergy and removal of any remaining Catholic traces
  • had some support from 'friends in high places' like Leicester and Knolly's who secured a preaching liscence for Field (author of the 1st Admonition)
  • during the 1580's the movement became more organised into 'classes' which centred around aread such as Essex and suffolk (meetings of approx. 20 clergy who would give advise)
  • historian Collinson said the classes were a 'minor affair
  • more radical figures, like Field, thought the 'classes' could form the basis for a Presbyterian Church structure and planed to influence Parliament
  • 1584-Turner introduced a Bill for a Genevan Prayer Book + Presbyterian Church Government = rejected
  • 1587-Cope introduced the same Bill (Bill and Book) = rejected
  • was in decline by late 1580's after death of Field and the above failures
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  • rejected the Church of England
  • believed that each congregation should be independent and should interpret scripture in their on way (no need for royal supremacy)
  • forced to act in secret because of Whitgift's commission
  • opposed to the Queen's status as Supreme Govenor
  • historian Collinson called them 'London's Protestant underworld'
  • movement emerged in the 1580's in London and Norwich
  • Browne emerged as the leader in Norwich and stated that the Church needed 'reformation without tarrying for any'
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Edmund Grindal

  • appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1576
  • had the support of Lord Burghley 
  • staunch Catholic in his theology
  • sympathetic to Prophesyings and refused Elizabeth's order to suppress them
  • believed Prophesyings were a way of encouraging the Word of God
  • told Elizabeth, 'Renenber Madam that thou art a mortal creature'
  • after his conflict with the Queen Grindal was suspended
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  • Prophesyings, or excercises, were unofficial gatherings of preachers who would develop their skills in the delivery of sermons
  • supported by Grindal who refused to suppress them under the Queen's orders
  • the Queen thought Prophesyings encouraged radicalism, were potentially subversive and that four preachers per country were sufficient
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