chapter  6
22 Pages

Prayer Book and Protestation: Anti-Popery, Anti-Puritanism and the Outbreak of the English Civil War

The prime exemplar of religious motivation in the fighting of the Civil War is Oliver Cromwell himself: so deeply, consistently and quotably Puritan in his interpretation of the war that there seems little further to be said. Burgess account of the parliamentarian divines meshes closely with his reading of Cromwell's scattered comments on this topic, and provides strong grounds for thinking that Cromwell was doing no more than the standard Puritan line. Oliver Cromwell, like the Puritan authors already mentioned, certainly believed that the war he was fighting was one which served Gods purposes. An unpoliced religious toleration, at least under current conditions, seemed in Cromwell's eyes more likely to produce a religious war of all against all than a shared paradise of natural liberty. In the end, this chapter suggests, taking the religious motivation of Cromwell and his colleagues seriously must lead us back to a fuller sense of their politics, rather than diverting us from it.