[Milton-L] Self-referencing by Puritans?

Jameela Lares Jameela.Lares at usm.edu
Wed Nov 14 11:32:46 EST 2007

I don't think the following has been mentioned, which I ran across today when
looking for something else:

"Puritanism, as I have defined it, splits off from general Protestantism in the
second half of the sixteenth century.  Stow traces the word <i>puritan</> to
about the year 1567. [Fn. John Poynet in his <i>Short Treatise of Politic
Power</> (1556) had spoken of 'Catharists and newe Puristes.'] Originally
coined by certain Anabaptists to describe themselves, it came to be used as a
hostile term (though they sometimes accepted it) for those Protestants who
believed that the Elizabethan Church was insufficiently reformed and wished to
make her more like the Protestants who believed that the Elizabethan Church was
insufficiently reformed and wished to make her more like the Protestant churches
on the continent; especially like that of Geneva."  from <i>English Literature
in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama</>, Oxford History of English
Literature(Oxford: Clarendon, 1954), 32.

On p. 17 Lewis restricts the meaning of "puritan" to those "who wished to
abolish episcopacy and remodel the Church of England on the lines which Calvin
had laid down for Geneva.  The puritan party were not separatists or (in the
modern sense) dissenters."  There's quite a discussion of puritanism in the
introductory chapter, but I think the initial quotation above would be most
applicable to your query.

I hope to find in Lewis is his discussion of how physical prowess (dancing,
riding, fencing, boxing, etc.) was included in courtiership, or some such
thing.  Should anyone know offhand the page number--in OHEL or elsewhere--I'd
be much obliged.



Quoting Christopher Baker <Christopher.Baker at armstrong.edu>:

> Did the Puritans ever refer to themselves by that name?  The OED does not so
> indicate, and since the term was mostly pejorative (aside from other, more
> positive terms they used such as "saints") I would be interested in an early
> modern source example if one exists.  This question came from a student.
> Thanks,
> Chris Baker
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Jameela Lares, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of English
The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5037
Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
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601 266-5757 fax

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