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Puritans was a subgroup of the English Protestants that came into play in the 16th and 17th centuries. The group comprised of deviant clergy members of the Church of England that perceived the church to be tolerant of Catholicism doctrines. English religious laws were adverse constraints in the development and advancement of puritanism. However, emigration of the puritanism congregations to Netherlands, New England, Ireland and Wales led to the development of the movement. The English laws were restricting change of the Church of England from within eventually failed since the puritanism movement was rife in the surrounding lands (George and Walker, 476).
The term “puritan” was derogatorily used to refer to those that disagreed with the Elizabethan religious settlement. They were also referred by the third parties as precisionists. The references came from the outside parties since they did not have a standard name that they used to refer to themselves. Tow broad categories of Puritans were separationists and non-separationists. The two groups agreed on the need for change. However, they disagreed on the extent and ways of effecting the change.
The name of the Puritans originated from the desire of the group to come up with a pure church and model of Protestantism (Gunther, 235-240). The group perceived the Church of England as a shadow of Catholicism. This perception led to the belief that the clamor for inclusion of Protestant denomination was vain. Their standpoint of the episcopal system of worship conducted by the Church of England spilled over to the dress code of the clergy. Episcopalian church and its associated tenets were linking factors between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. The Puritans wanted to rid the church of the Catholic rituals hence purify it. Hence, they were perceived to be Puritans. Pejoratively, the word indicates extremist tendencies that the group upheld.
Human nature of abhorrence to change worked with the group and it mission. English culture did not accommodate the extreme changes advocated by the Puritans. The society was built on the teachings of the English church, and the ruling elite wanted a single religion that would be easily manipulated. Government that insisted on the inclusion of the religion in the government also increased the rejection of the Puritanism in England.
The insistence of the government on the development of a single church to cater for all the people also worked against the Puritans. In response to the rise of the puritanism risk to the Church of England, the government passed legislation barring the Puritans from changing the Church of England from within. The move barred the only channel that the Puritans could exploit in the development of their agenda since the option of developing another church could not be tolerated. The closure of all channels translated into the ultimate rejection of the Puritans (Waller, 142).
However, various pockets of Christians were sympathetic to the cause. They formed congregations seeking to advance the cause of puritanism. When the tolerance of the government waned, the congregations of Puritans in England migrated to other countries in the region as mentioned before and worked for the cause from there. The main leaders of the movement were William Bridge, Thomas Gouge, Thomas Manton, Stephen Charnock, Richard Baxter, John Owen and John Flavel (George and Walker, 476). These leaders led the development of the Puritan doctrine. However, the main founder of the sect was John Calvin. The fact that the Puritans technically originated from the Calvinists explains the similarities in creed purpose and execution of their cause.
The Puritans managed to initiate the first wave of the modern Protestantism. They developed their attire and rituals that were divergent from the Episcopal practices. They also focused on the development of a new perception of Christianity that was characterized by the improved freedom of worship. The beliefs propagated by the group were increasingly accommodated in the rest of the world more so in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and New England. The teachings of the Puritans were also adopted by the first settler in the United States of American. The settlers from the regions were mainly from the Protestant society. New England was the landing place of the Puritans.
However, they spread to the rest of the new world such that the impact of the Puritans was widely acknowledged. The definition of the religion was diversified to include the personal beliefs of the followers. There was also a clamor for the separation of the government from the church could be traced to the first Puritan theologies arguments (George and Walker, 476). The success of the Puritans in other parts of the world led to the need of the Roman Catholic Church to accommodate some of the views that were proposed by the leftwing groups.
The Puritan and other affiliated congregations became the benchmark of the American version of Christianity with the Catholics giving up on winning the new world. The foundation laid by the Puritans led to a new read of Christianity that accommodated the diversity. Puritanism views were the foundations of the American democracy.
The pursuance of the moral purity in the individual to the ecclesiastical levels was highly encouraged. The Puritans focused on the development of the new brand of religion that was encompassed in the direct observation of the biblical teachings to the least detail. They also brought in a new brand of religion that emphasized on the individual interpretation of the Bible. Adherence of the followers to the biblical teaching and doing God’s will defined the happiness that a person received in the future.
George, C. H., and Eric C. Walker. 'Elizabethan Puritanism.'. Renaissance Quarterly 25.4 (1972): 476. Web.
Gunther, Karl. 'The Origins Of English Puritanism'. History Compass 4.2 (2006): 235-240. Web.
Trinterud, Leonard J. 'The Origins Of Puritanism'. Church Hist 20.01 (1951): 37. Web.
Waller, George M. Puritanism In Early America. Boston: Heath, 1950. Print.
During the middle Ages, the Catholic Church was dominant in the civilization of the West. As the Dark Ages slowly came to a close, the monarchies of the Europeans began to have power consolidations that provided an alternative base of power. With the Reformation of the Protestants, there came the yet another blow which was the consolidation of the church in Spain. Spain was the forerunner of the age associated with the discovery and happened to be dominated by the Catholic Church. In the 16th century, the monarchy had the forces of both the crowns combined according to their imperial policy. This was however, much to the dismay and the ultimate destruction of natives of the New World. Robert Camark states that," Through a deep analysis and investigation of the Aztec polytheism and the Catholicism from the conquistadors, the central role played day religion particularly; the Catholics came out in the New Spain.''
The role of the Catholic Church in the world that came into existence then was of great importance to the colonizers as well as the native people. The role played by the church is however often generalized in such a manner that the church and the state worked hand in hand in terms of empirical authority as well as areas and religious orders. Alfred Crosby however states that, "A closer inspection into this issue has shown that the church was often at odds with the state, those they sort to convert as well as the local elites. There were conflicts between the different orders which had been structured." There conflicts between the bishops as well as the laity and also among the secular and the church missionaries. This paper attempts to show the differences, as well as the attempts which were made by the church in order to adapt to the new different conditions which it was experiencing. Through this analysis, the subject of a true spiritual conquest is determined.
In addition, several Spaniards who were not necessarily from the church decided to have their idea of what Christianity was to them and thus imposed the same to the Indian. According to Kasl Ronda, " the American continent had been selected by God through the Pope to guide the Spanish, as well as the Portuguese. Hernan argues that it was vital for the Indians to be subjected not only to the Spanish throne but also to the activities that Christ had been involved in. This was very important especially since the church had ruled out that the only way enslavement and war would occur is only to the groups that were rejecting the gospel. The gospel of His Holy father was read to the people and interpretation were in order. Those who rejected the readings even after being made to understand the word were liable for enslavement and beatings. Violence was, therefore, permissible especially to those groups who had been given the word but had either declined to follow it or chosen to ignore its teachings. If they failed to change their ways accordingly violence was permissible. This did not put into considerations whether the people had understood or not.
Lannon Frances urges that ,"This kind of events went on and was still rampant in the 1550 particularly when the Arawaks of Chile were forced to submit regardless of whether they understood the teachings or not by Pedro de Valdiva." There were some priests who were strongly against the violence. Some of them included the likes of Fray Olmedo, who happened to be present with Cortes. Similar events could be drawn from the conquest and the defeat of the invading Moors in Spain who had demonstrated some level of civilization but were still not informed.
Clendinnen states that,"The extent to which forced submission was so strong that the Indians could not even be considered humans before converting to Christianity." This was especially evident at the time when Cortes talked of the Indians temples being mosques. Cortes was the very first person to attempt superimposing Christianity to the local. He did this by cleansing the local temples of idols and having Christian icons in their place. This was very provocative and a bold move on his side. Christianity was being forced into the lives of the locals whether they liked its teachings or not. The Indians spirit was being broken by having hate idols publicly destroyed. The Spanish continued putting great emphasis on their religion of monotheism, and convinced many Indians to have a Christian God as the true and only Supreme Being. This however resulted in the very first contradictions among the many contradictions postulated by the spiritual contradictions.
The introduction of Christianity in the lives of the Indians brought about cultural baggage as well as a spontaneous change in lifestyles. This is probably due to the fact that most Indians converted due to the pressure of appeasing the Spanish, the fact that they considered the Spanish God as being more powerful than their own God. According to Clendine Mayan, they hid their original religion so as to perpetuate the religion of the Spanish. This then helped in the development of a distinct form of Mayan Christianity that later expressed itself in the form of caste wars. The Indians thus considered the battle to be cosmic rather than earthly. The fight was more of the Spanish against the Indian Gods. The most powerful one among the two would prevail. According to them, the false God was defeated and the real and powerful god conquered. In the Huamanga region, the Taki Onqoy conflict was viewed as a cosmic battle that involved the Incan Huacas as well the Spanish God. The Huamangas was submissive to the teachings which were postulated by the church. However the Taki Onqoy was rebellious and brought a conflict which claimed more than 8,000 lives.
There was also battle which happened within the church. The powerful orders fought against each other for a battle of supremacy. The Dominicans, Franciscans, as well as the Jesuits, all fought against each other, fought against the secular churches mainly for power as well prestige and souls. Each of the participants was different in their kind and their different regions as well as areas. Their level of dominance depended on their regions. Some were strong in some specific areas while others were weak in the same areas. The Franciscans who happened to be the largest were mainly dominant in Mexico as well as Yucatan. In addition to this, they adopted a relationship that was paternalistic in nature with the Indians and assumed the role of protection as postulated by the spirit of Las Casas. The strategy of reaching deep into the Indians was through participation in the events of the Indians. In this manner, they were able to use the Indians lifestyles to point out the weaknesses of the Indian religion as well as determining the most suitable method of reaching the core of convincing the Indians to adopt Christianity. The Dominicans approached the exercise with almost a similar tactic but with the same zeal that they had used in the persecution of the Old.
The missionary work was well organized. Cortes preferred having spiritually driven priests as opposed to the bishops who were being pampered. In response to Cortes' requisition, the Franciscans responded by sending selected twelve priests just like Jesus had twelve disciples. These were some of the tactics that the Spanish used progressively to making the native Indians understand the Christianity concept. The twelve priests who were brought were used to train the chiefs, as well as the elder's of the Indian community. Through this, the number of those with the Christian teachings increased and thus made the rate of spreading the Christianity gospel to increase. With an increased number of well-trained priests together with the elders, the rate of diffusing the Christianity knowledge was increased. Therefore, the spread of diffusion Catholic values was increased reaching a wider base of people. The Franciscan values appeared to be appealing to the Indians and were, therefore, convincing to most of them.
As the Franciscans began to lay order in Yucatan, they brushed shoulders with the state. Since they indoctrinated the Indians in Spanish without teaching the Indians the Spanish language, they took the role of the mediators. Stuart states that the control system was organized villages and which were organized using the sounds of bells. The sate was highly criticized due to its violence.
The Spanish considered the Indians to be spiritual waifs who were allegedly under the influence of the devil. Te Aztec religion was particularly put on the spotlight as a discerned Satan's damnation, which was be held in the book of revelations. The Spanish were very tactful in their approach to make the culture as well as the religion of the Indians extinct. They embraced the native ways as well as religion in the church with a primary aim of having these cultures and practices destroyed. The main purpose was to make the Indians feel welcomed in the church and close to the Spanish. This way, the Spanish would easily extinguish the values as well as the culture of the Indians. The temples were destroyed and replaced with cathedrals, monasteries as well as schools.
Through the philosophy of destroying and rebuild, Fray Diego de Landa justified violence which he had triggered after his knowledge of practice of idolatry. The Franciscans were cruel in Yucatan especially when it came to matters of punishing the idolatry cases. Fray Diego was however credited with bringing about order in the area which had previously been inflicted with challenges of both secular as well as secular church natures. The friars had proffered physiological punishments instead of inflicting physical pains changed their own rules and were practicing physical punishments and putting themselves above the law. The roles were suddenly inverted. The Indians were being forced to seek refuge with the encomderos who had considered the church as a threat to their livelihoods and who were focused in protecting their own interests.
The Spanish were not told to be actually good Christians but were only required to behave as such. The encomderos could either support or reject the church depending on whether it was to their best of interests. This was the case when the encomderos supported the Indians in the Yucatan. The aspect of slavery was accepted and justified since the Indians were incapable of facing to the light of God without the necessary work ethic. The oppressions of this kind made the Indians to be stubborn with one of the Indians who were almost being killed refusing to repent with the fear of finding the cruel white men he had been forced to live with.
The manner in which the Indians welcomed the Spanish determined the treatment of the Indians by the intruders. The Indians of Guatemala were very hospitable when compared with the ones in Yucatan and therefore the difference in the manner in which the two were treated. The Huamanga in Peru welcomed the Spanish warmly in the hope that they would treat them better than the Incan lords. However, the Spanish may have become more adept as they continued living among the Indians.
Similarly the level and the speed of the Christian teachings were faster in Peru than in Mexico. The priests from Peru were considered to be more powerful, able to turn the system in such a manner that it would easily suit them and at the same time, were very entrepreneurial. In such cases they were better suited to delivering their teachings. The level of submission was also higher in Peru than in the other parts.
The Indians were drawn to the church where they could easily avoid the rigors and the frustrations of forced mitayo labor. In spite of all these factors, some of the Indians actually realized true and legit faith in the Christians teachings which they were being taught. According to Council of Huejotzingo, the Indians were happy and appreciated the value that the teaching of the church had brought to their land. The rate of conversions was particularly high among the wealthy as well as the city dwellers and this was great success to the Spanish.
The state saw the activities of the Christian missionaries as an opportunity to civilize. However, in fear of the sakes of the Indians, many orders declined to give in to the demands and the requirements of the state, or the secular church when they had been established in a certain area. Las Cascas had more than once tried to bring the settlements to fruition but these projects were a both miserable failures.
It is therefore clear that true spiritual conquest may have not been truly achieved. It is also clear that there were many failures from the church. The fact that the priests did not have an understanding of the Indian religions and the fact they actually did not attempt to know shows a big failure on their side. Some of the priests were mainly concerned with self interest and were not fully committed to spreading the gospel.
The Spanish conquered the Indians with more than just the religion but were more inclusive and also touched on areas such as technology and diseases, and the exploitation of various divisions among people. There were however some priests who stood their ground and lived humbly with their native brethren. Using this avenue, they learnt the ways of the natives, taught them what they perceived to be important and what they thought would serve as protection for them against exploitations by the Conquistadors. Some recognized with the Indian virtue and also agreed to the fact that Christianization had done more harm than good and ties the major setbacks to Spanish state. In fact, Bernardino believed that free of Spain, some of the states would have been much better places. Even to date, the legacy of the Catholic Church still runs deep and therefore the role of the Catholic Church stands out in the role of the New Spain.
Phillips, William D., and Carla Rahn Phillips. 2010. A concise history of Spain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kasl, Ronda, and Alfonso Rodríguez G. de Ceballos. 2009. Sacred Spain: art and belief in the Spanish world. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Lannon, Frances. 1987. Privilege, persecution, and prophecy: the Catholic Church in Spain, 1875-1975. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Clarendon Press.
Pérez, Joseph, and Lysa Hochroth. 2007. History of a tragedy: the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Inga Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatán, 1517-1570, Second edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
Stuart B. Schwartz, ed. Victors and Vanquished: Spanish and Nahua Views of the Conquest of Mexico (Bedford, 2000)
Robert M. Carmack, “The Mesoamerican World at Spanish Contact” in Eds., Robert M. Carmack, Janine L. Gasco and Gary H. Gossen, The Legacy of Mesoameríca: History and Culture of a Native American Civilization, second edition (Prentice Hall/Pearson, 2007)
Alfred W. Crosby, “Infectious Disease and the Demography of the Atlantic Peoples,” Journal of World History, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Fall 1991): 119-133.
Tzvetan Todorov 'The Conquest of America :The Question of the Other' NY:1984
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