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A member of the more extreme English Protestants who were dissatisfied with the Anglican settlement and sought a further purification of the English Church from Roman Catholic elements. Their theology was basically that of John Calvin. At first they limited themselves to attacking ‘popish’ (Roman Catholic) practices – church ornaments, vestments, and organ music – but from 1570 extremists attacked the authority of bishops and government notably in the Marprelate tracts. However, James I resisted their attempts to change Anglican dogma, ritual, and organization, voiced at the Hampton Court Conference. In the 1620s some emigrated to North America, but it was the policies of Laud and Charles I in the 1630s that resurrected the Puritan opposition of the 1580s. The doctrine of Predestination (that God ordains in advance those who shall receive salvation) became a major source of contention between the Puritans, for whom it was a fundamental article of faith, and the Arminians who rejected it. Religion was a key factor leading to the outbreak of civil war in 1642. Puritanism was strong among the troops of the New Model Army and in the 1640s and 1650s, with the encouragement of Cromwell, Puritan objectives were realized. After the Restoration they were mostly absorbed into the Anglican Church or into larger Nonconformists groups and lost their distinctive identity.

Subjects: History

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