The Purtian Challenge to Elizabeth


Who were the Puritans?

Hardline Protestants - believed that the settlement did not go far enough - CofE traditional in structure and rituals

Purify the church of its papal elements

Three strands -

Moderate (accepted structure reluctantly, pressed for reform of beliefs and religious practices),

Presbyterian (thorough reofrm of structure and simplification of faith and ritual),

Separatist (broke away from national church to pursue own radical reformation)

opposed survival of bishops - intervention of the Pope to maintain his power, not a creation of early Chrisitan Church

simpler, more biblical form of worship

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Early Stages of Puritanism

pre-dated religious settlement - educated elite of merchants, lawyers and craftsmen influenced in 1520s by teachings of Luther & other continental reformers -used the same arguements that were used in 1570s

Calvin's influence felt throughout the final years of Henry VIII and Ed VI

Complaints came to a head over discussions in Convocation (Church Parliament) about 39 Articles 1563 & Vestiarian Contreversy 1566:

vestments - special clothes worn during services - Elizabeth wrote to Archbishop in 1565 as part of drive towards uniformity - following procedure set out in Injunctions of 1559

1566 - Parker issues Book of Advertisements which set out what was expected - insisted on surplice and cope (very Catholic) - 37 clergymen in London refused & were suspended - questions about how far authority of Supreme Governor extended -Parker wanted to compromise - watered down Book of Adverstisements - no biblical backing - no conclusion reached (stayed as Archbishop until his death in 1575)

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Presbyterian Demands of 1570s

Series of lectures by Thomas Cartwright - Profesor of Divinity at Cambridge - Spring 1570 -brought radical puritanism to national attention

argued for abolition of bishops and called for reform of structure based on Geneva (Calvin)

Elizabeth's reaction - open horror (Scotland's Presbyterians had overthrown MQS) - did not want religious change

Cartwright had litttle practical influence - matter debated in HOC 1571 - Thomas Strickland

main impact - 39 Articles formally approved by Parliament -clergy had to accept conditions to gain admission to the church

1572 - John Field - Admonitions to the Parliament - additional pamphlets - imprisoned 1 year

St Bartholomew Day massacre & threat from Spain - relations never so anguished

1576 - Parliament not to debate religion without her permission (imprisoned Wentworth when he challenged this)

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Archbishop Grindal and the 'Prophesysings'

Government alarmed at spread of 'prophesysing' - well organsised gatherings of clergymen - young/unlicensed preachers could practice - most had support of local bishop - did not always show influence of Presbyterians on the church - main focus on education clergy and laity

1576 - Elizabeth learns of unorthodox preaching in Warwickshire - ordered new Archbishop (Grindal) to suppress prohpesysings - consulted other bishops and came to conclusion that the meeting was not dangerous

refused to accept Queen's instructions

gave her a lectuer on the importance of the meetings in spreading the word of God and ensuring the well-being of souls

Grindal placed under virtual house arrest at Lambeth Palace and he was unable to function as leader of the church for the remaining 7 years of his life

Elizabeth ordered direct orders to the bishops that prophesysing must stop

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Whitgift's attack on Presbyterianism in 1580s

Purging from national church of Presbyterian influences

1583 - death of Grindal, Whitgift replaces him as Archbishop of Canterbury

known affectionally by Elizabeth as 'my little black husband' (based on his clothes) - shared many of her views and prejudices

no sympathy for the Puritans

issued 3 Articles immediately that would force all ministers to swear an absolute acceptance of Bishops & the Prayer Book/39 Articles (all of it)

result was uproar, and 300 ministers were suspended in the South alone - the local gentry saw that many of these ministers were reinstated

tone of new church administration set - strict controls enforced to end prophesysings and suppress any other Presbyterian developments

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Development of Classes in 1580s

Plural of 'classis' - term for regional meetings to which congregations sent representatives

evidence of development in some areas during the 1580s

reponse to Whitgift's hardline stance? - informal organisation resembled Presbyterian Church in Scotland

broadly 'Puritan' in nature - genuine attempts to discuss and educate

Most clergy accepted Whitgift's 3 Articles - no desire to upset established social structure in which the CofE had an estbalished role

Parliament 1586-7 demands led by MP Anthony Cope for a Calvinist Prayer Book, assuming a Presbyterian church structure - replace Book of Common Prayer - Cope (and some supporters) sent to the tower - little support in Parliament for religious change - reflected across country

despite South East leaning towards Puritanism, no widespread support for Presbyterianism

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Separatist Movement

Protestantism insisted the Bible = only source of religious teaching and should be available in English to everybody

Some congregations followed individual churches route, using isolated voluntary groups to explore the Bible and reach own conclusions

Evidence difficult to gather as their gatherings were illegal and therefore kept secret

vast majority of Puritans members of the national church

by 1583, clear that they were not going to bring about reform by remaining in teh Anglican Church so small groups of separatists began to emerge

Brownists - most famous group - Robert Browne 1580 Norwich - left England and settled in Holland - A Treatise of Reformation Without Tarrying For Any - 1583 John Copping and Elias Thacker hanged for distributing Browne pamphlets

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Marprelate Tracts 1588-9

Separatist movment reappeared - scurrilous Martin Marprelate Tracts - bitter written attack on the Church using foul language and abuse

anonymous and printed in London - Purtians such as Cartwright horrified - reaction of the authorities and public opinion allowed for the final destruction of organised Protestantism

Cartwright & associated forced in front of Court of High Commission and forced to reveal what they knew about the prophesysings movement

propaganda linked Puritans to Separatists, and separatism to treason

Act against Seditious Secretaires 1593 - execute those accused of being Separatists

ammunition for all-out attack on Puritanism 

main importance was to be in the Stuart period

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