To what extent did the Puritans threaten the stability of the Church of England part 1?

  • Elizabethan church was rejected by some Protestants
  • Settlement icluded elements rejected by some Protestants; namely the traditional structure and rituals. 'Puritans' called for the church to be purified of its papal elements
  • opposed the survival of bishops in the new order, arguing they were an invention of the Pope to maintain his power
  • examine Bible - making the sign of the cross in a baptism and wearing vestments had no scriptual authority
  • all puritans believed the English Reformation of 1559 was not complete and therefore threatened the stability of the Elizabethan settlement just as effectively as Catholic recusants
  • the three main puritan strands were: 1) Moderate - reluctantly accepted Church structure and pressed for reform of beliefs and religious practises along European lines; 2) Presbyterian - called for a thorough reform of church structure and simplifying of faith and ritual, well established in Scotland; 3) Seperatists - broke away from the national church to pursue its own radical protestant reformation on a parish-by-parish basis

Early stages of Puritanism

  • pre-dated Elizabethan settlement - educated elite of merchants, lawyers and craftsmen influenced in the 1520s by Luther and other continental reformers criticising the Catholic Church
  • in the last years of Henry VIII and Edward VI Calvin`s influence was keenly felt in England
  • complaints the settlement was too Catholic came to a head during discussions of the Convocation (Church Parliament) about the Thirty Nine Articles Act of 1563 and the Vesterian controversy of 1566

Vesterian Controversy

  • as part of the uniformity drive Elizabeth writes to the Archbishop of Canterury in 1565, reminding him to ensure all clergy were following religious practises set out in the 1559 injunctions
  • 1566 Parker (Archbishop of Canterbury) issued the Book of Advertisements which set out wha was expected, such as those recieving the communion had to kneel, not standing. the dress code insisted on a surplice and cope as standard apparel
  • London - 37 clergymen refused to follow this instruction and were suspended as a result
  • vestements similar to Catholic clothing and offended Protestants forced to wear them - refusal raised further questions of how far the Queen`s authority as Supreme Governor of the Church extended
  • Parker wanted to comprimise and recognised the Bible didn`t prescribe particular clothing and was forced to fall back on justifying the requirements as being the Queen`s wishes as Supreme Governor of the Church 
  • Controversy continued with no conclusion and no explicit support from the Queen who had no wish to provoke enemies at a time when the threat from Catholicism was growing
  • Archbishop Parker remained, working as a scholar until his death in 1575

Presbyterian demands in the 1570s:

  • series of lectures by the Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, Thomas Cartwright, in the spring of 1570 which brought the radical dimension of Puritanism to national and royal attention
  • argued for abolition of bishops and called for a form of church govenment based on the developped…


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