For most, the first few things that might come to mind are Pilgrims, turkeys, and the Mayflower. Yes, the Pilgrims who landed in Plymouth back in 1620 were indeed subscribers to Puritan ideals, but the story of the Puritans runs much deeper than that.
The Puritans were a direct result of the backlash created by England’s pseudo-Reformation in the 1500s.
The English Reformation was initially not sprung from religious zeal but rather the selfish wants of Britain’s king, Henry VIII. King Henry VIII wanted a new wife, and the pope wouldn’t allow him to use the machinery of the Catholic Church to dissolve his marriage.
So, King Henry broke with the Catholic Church, defied the pope, and declared himself the head of the Church of England.
The Church of England was largely reformed in name only, as it held onto much of the traditions and rituals of Catholicism. Protestant-leaning British clergy, especially those influenced by John Calvin’s teachings, wanted more reforms than Henry would allow.
The more zealous among them, those who wished to purify all semblance of Catholic tradition from English worship, were dubbed “Puritans.”
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