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Puritans

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A group of radical English Protestants that arose in the late sixteenth century and became a major force in England during the seventeenth century. Puritans wanted to “purify” the Church of England by eliminating traces of its origins in the Roman Catholic Church. In addition, they urged a strict moral code and placed a high value on hard work (see work ethic). After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, they controlled the new government, the Commonwealth. Oliver Cromwell, who became leader of the Commonwealth, is the best-known Puritan.

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notes for Puritans

Many Puritans, persecuted in their homeland, came to America in the 1620s and 1630s, settling colonies that eventually became Massachusetts. (See Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony.)

notes for Puritans

The words puritan and puritanical have come to suggest a zeal for keeping people from enjoying themselves.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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