Cromwell’s rise to power was in part the outcome of religious conflict and dissent present since the Lolland’s of the 14th century. However, these religious radicals and even the Protestant Reformation did not seem to affect society greatly, and in the case of the Reformation it was in England a relatively calm transformation compared to other parts of Europe. There was burning of heretics on both sides as the two factions vied for power, but the vast majority of laypeople seemed unmoved or even uncertain as to which faith they belonged to. It was only in Stuart times, when the population felt itself to be strongly Church of England, that fear of the re-adoption of the Catholic religion began to cause problems.
The English civil war was far from just a conflict between two religious faiths, and indeed it had much more to do with divisions within the one Protestant religion. The austere, fundamentalist Puritanism on the one side was opposed to what it saw as the crypto-Catholic decadence of the Anglican Church on the other. Divisions also formed along the lines of the common people and the gentry, and between the country and city dwellers. It was a conflict that was bound to disturb all parts of society, and a frequent slogan of the time was “the world turned upside down”.
Therefore it is worth noting that the English civil war was a general and overall civil war that existed between members of the Protestant religion, who on the one hand was very much about the severely strict, stern, ascetic, serious and rigorous Puritans and the Anglican Church who on the other hand, rolled in extreme decadence as indicated by corruption, excess, self-indulgence, and debauchery. So how and why does this bring such bloodied conflict to British subjects?
Understanding the civil war is to understand the influence of the Catholic Church and its reaches on Anglicanism. It seems as though those who craved power without remorse of how it was obtained ostensibly were members of the Anglican Church; whereas, those country and county folks who desired to be left alone were constantly at odds with the moral character of their rivals.
Bringing it real into the 21st century America it is envisaged that recent attacks against one religious oriented faction of society by carelessly demanding that they do as the government wants them too; whilst at the same time seeing the same people involved in attacking the very religious freedom principles America was founded on.
Therefore, suffice it to say that the Puritans were not wanted in England anymore than the British wanted to clean up its own experiential delving into wanton lust and hedonism. This was in fact constantly acted out from Charles’s “perfect militia” who most referred to as “the dregs of society.” Charles’s distaste for the British militia coupled with the local citizenry’s distain for the looting, pillaging of the counties, and the raping of the women brought the local people to the brink. So much so in fact, that when the King ordered 100 fresh soldiers from Ireland to be quartered with the townspeople – each and every able bodied subject took up arms, axes, frying pans, and rocks and stones to let Charles know of their disapproval. This in fact could be the origin of the “Pitchforks and Torches” period.
As a reaction to the King’s continued interference in local affairs – his attacks on “popular Protestantism” his disruption of the county communities, with continued assaults on the corporate boroughs – albeit several hundred people opted for a new life in a new land; however, as determined as Charles was with his innovation of English society, during the 1630s and onward literally thousands of people decided to leave the country. This has been part three of the ongoing series of American & England Transformation.