This introduces the themes of the book by examining the very local culture war waged in the 1640s and 1650s between the fierce puritan minister Richard Culmer and his defiant parishioners in the Kent parish of Minster. It then surveys long-standing pressures for reform by puritans and humanists in Elizabethan and early Stuart England, in opposition to their opponents’ values of ‘good fellowship’, self-indulgence, and display. It charts new laws on the Sabbath, drunkenness, and sexual offences, and looks at the godly discipline imposed in local communities where puritans had already gained the upper hand. The introduction ends with a summary of the reform measures passed by the Long Parliament in the 1640s, resuming the agenda that had been blocked by Charles I.
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