• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the nature and threat posed by Puritanism

Extracts from this document...


Assess the nature and threat posed by Puritanism 'Puritanism', which was first coined in the Vestiarian controversy of the mid 1560s, has not been associated exclusively with a single theology or definition of the church (although many were Calvinists), but there are certain characteristics which can be agreed upon. Puritanism was strongly anti-Catholic; for both Collinson and Lake, Puritans were Protestants, both lay and clerical, whose religious enthusiasm and zeal marked them off from their more lukewarm contemporaries. Paul Christianson limits his definition to 'the hotter sort of Puritan' - Presbyterians and hardened nonconformists who would not obey the orders of the bishops yet did not separate themselves from the Church of England (although this meaning does not encompass the end of Elizabeth's reign, where the presbyterian movement had been destroyed). Lotherington argues, "the Puritans would seek to adapt the regulation set down in 1559 to create a more 'Godly church' like the Reformed churches abroad"; to encourage direct personal religious experience, sincere moral conduct, and simple worship services. Elizabeth saw certain types of Puritanism as a threat to her royal authority (religion, to her, was a branch of power politics) and so she tended to view all forms of Puritanism - whether conformist, separatist, presbyterian, moderate, or radical - with suspicion. They tried to reform the Church, first through the Church itself and then through Parliament, before turning to popular local movements such as presbyterianism and prophesying. Warren described Puritans as a "reforming group who saw the 1559 settlement as temporary and endeavored to obtain further installments of reform". ...read more.


Even if the Puritan bills had more support, Elizabeth had further powers such as the proroguing or dissolving of parliament. Perhaps Puritan Ideology was a leap in the dark to those whose power rested on stability and social control, and because it threatened too many interests of the ruling classes, establishing Puritanism through parliament was doomed to fail. Perhaps, therefore, Puritanism was to be more effective at grass roots level, where Anglican puritans, many of whom were alumni of Cambridge University, could preach out of the steely sight and control of Elizabeth. The existence of prophesyings, gatherings of clergy where preachers could practice their skills and obtain an assessment of their performance from colleagues, implied the wild and unbridled enthusiasm of would-be visionaries and prophets. The meetings were performed under supervision of a moderator (a respected preaching practitioner), and their value to inexperienced clergymen was enormous - Professor Collinson pointed out that they were seen as 'universities of he poor ministers', and they improved the morale of the clergy as well as their expertise. Some may have thought that Elizabeth would promote them because the Royal Injunctions of 1559 required non-graduate ministers to study the scriptures and other works. However, to the Queen, local meetings may have implied a lack of uniformity, which threatened her supremacy and the uniformity of the realm. The lack of control would have made her uncomfortable. Late in 1576, Elizabeth ordered her Archbishop at the time, the reformer Edmund Grindal, to suppress all Prophesyings and restrict the number of preachers to 3 or 4 per shire, and he refused. ...read more.


There was little support in Parliament for any of the measures - in 1584 the Queen employed the powerful oratory of Sir Christopher Hatton ensured the nervous ruling class that Peter Turner's bill had failed, and the election in this year was not a puritan triumph. Despite the constant gnashing of teeth on both sides, it seems that Puritanism was little threat at all to Elizabeth. Firstly, historians have claimed that there was no organized Puritan 'group' as such, because attacks on the religious settlement were only in response to particular events, and not sustained throughout the period. Thus, the Puritan stance had neither the organization or the popularity to make it a serious threat. For example, Walter Travers was responsible for a book of the presbyterian discipline, but there was no exact agreement on the organization of the Presbyterian church. Also, Collinson has revealed that there were parts of the country where Puritanism had not made a meaningful impact (like in the north, Wales, west midlands and parts of the west country). The puritans failed to change the organization and hierarchy of the church, and there is very little evidence to suggest it had the potential to do so. Perhaps the most threatening aspect of Puritanism was the fact that it was not conducive to a united Church - it encouraged individualistic interpretation of scripture, and allowed for a certain amount of variation within the faith, which is what Elizabeth wanted to avoid. Moreover, the Puritan minister in his parish may have had a deeper and longer-lasting influence than some of the rituals to which he accommodated himself. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How serious a threat did the Puritans pose to Elizabeth I and her Church?

    4 star(s)

    Senior members of the Church were also aware of the potential threat; in 1573, the Dean of York told Burghley that 'The supreme authority was justly taken from the Pope...and given to the Prince...but these reformers take it from the Prince and give it unto themselves.'

  2. how significant was the catholic threat to elizabeth 1, posed by her roman catholic ...

    One of these factors adopts the idea that the refusal of Elizabeth to marry and name a successor left Mary next inline to the English throne. With Mary being the Catholic figurehead, it was believed that the Catholics within England, therefore, felt it was their duty to remove Elizabeth from the throne and restore Catholicism to England.

  1. How serious were the problems posed by the Puritans in the reign of Elizabeth ...

    The problems posed by the Puritans at the start of the period were focused more on the settlement and changing this; a series of bills in 1571 and 1572 proposed removing the practices regarded as Catholic from the Book of Common Prayer, among other things, but these were all denied.

  2. Who posed the greater threat to Elizabeth

    Elizabeth's power may have been weakened due to the intelligent way the Puritans went via Parliament. They opted to use Parliament as a way of passing laws and thus attempted to decrease Elizabeth's power. Many Protestants, and not only those known as Puritans, were not satisfied with the 1559 religious settlement.

  1. How do the poets in 'Charlotte O'Neils song' and 'Nothing Changed' show their feelings ...

    She is saying that it isn't the natural way of the world at all. By leaving England she can start a new life abroad where she will be able to have a better standard of living. The poet has explained some of the background to this poem.

  2. The failure of Elizabethan Puritanism

    making the sign of the cross in baptism, bowing at the name of 'Jesus', using the wedding-ring in marriage services and church bells, were of particular offence. These were 'popish remnants' and were a mark of the 'devil' of Rome.

  1. Were the Puritans a threat to Elizabeth?

    would be able to, and therefore perhaps shows the Puritans were a fairly big threat, but no huge hassle for Elizabeth. Source 3 on the other hand, a letter written to the King of Spain in 1583 by the Spanish Ambassador states that the Puritans were "greatly increasing", meaning that they were getting stronger.

  2. The changing position of women and the suffrage question. Revision notes

    David Lloyd George was confident and announced ?Our success next year, I think is assured.? * However, in a completely unprecedented move the speaker refused to accept an amendment concerning women?s suffrage. The Government promptly abandoned its own bill. * Members of the NUWSS felt disillusioned by what they perceived

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work