The devil’s minions
DOI link for The devil’s minions
The devil’s minions book
As Puritan magistrates and ministers moved to exercise and maintain full control over the colonial community they governed, they sometimes found themselves obliged to take drastic, severe action to enclose and disarm threats to their holy experiment. They dealt with common sins through the common law, and proved especially expeditious in managing heretics, reflecting a judgment that spiritual dangers were extremely difficult to discover and had the greatest potential for instigating sin and destruction. Yet to attend only to crimes committed, without some care to deflect if not forestall future challenges, was to court disaster. Maintaining order required a clear vision and constant vigilance: those whose very presence threatened disruption had to be controlled. In other words, magistrates needed to silence women and, in fact, the lower classes, since the only way the patriarchal hierarchy would work was if the disfranchised classes remained so. The Puritans’ social order was predicated upon a small, powerful governing community at the top ruling subservient, and happy to be so, masses beneath. They might have invited the middling sort of man to share with them the authority that came with minor, frequently onerous local offices, but from women and the poor, all they asked, and what they demanded was respectful obeisance, or at least silent acquiescence.