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Last updated 10 Jun 2017
Puritans were a radical form of Protestants that operated in England during the 1500 and 1600s. As their name suggests they wanted to ‘purify’ and cleanse the Church of England from all of the Catholic elements that still existed within the Church. They believed that the new Church of England was not reformed enough and that further steps should be taken.
Puritanism in England first started to appear shortly after Elizabeth I became Queen as it was now safe to return to England after the rule of hard line Catholic Mary I. Puritanism as a whole has many differing strands and this stems from the fact that Puritans believed that there should be no overall leader of the church and that beliefs should come straight from the Bible.
Puritans are often labeled as radical or hardline protestants. Some of their beliefs are seen as hardline or on the extremes of Protestant beliefs. Many Puritans took their views from the Old Testament. On the whole, Puritans believed that mankind was naturally sinful and that they should live religious lives in order to get into heaven. This meant that no one should do anything to excess. Therefore no one should drink to excess, or dress extravagantly. This even extended as far as reading for pleasure and attending the theatre. In marriage, Puritans believed that men were the head of the household and that women were supposed to be humble and submissive to their husbands and to god.
Puritans and the Religious Settlement:
Puritans did not agree with the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. They believed that the reforms to the Church did not go far enough and that Elizabeth was pandering to the Catholics in England. Those who were opposed to the settlement in this way became Puritans. Opposition from Puritans was not widespread and often isolated to small parts of England. There was no organised opposition on a large scale to the Religious Settlement.