History Lecture #7: The English Puritan Movement and the Origins of
Great Seal of the Massachusetts Bay Company:
Indian on seal is not depicted as real life, but rather in a stylized way to suggest that
he is a natural man. It is not meant to depict an Indian, but rather a ‘natural man’.
The Latin motto around the seal, and English speech bubble ‘Come over and Help
us’. ‘Come over and help us’ has biblical origins: St. Paul, an evangelist, dreamt that a
Macedonian man told him ‘come over and help us’. Philippi was first a Greek colony
and then a Roman colony, and was the first place in Europe that St. Paul brought
Christianity. This was the beginning of the Christian colonization of Europe.
Therefore, when they put this on the seal, they aren’t depicting an Indian; rather,
they are trying to do the same thing that Paul had done when he brought
Christianity from Asia to Europe.
I. Reformers and the Bible
A. Protestant Reformation
» Queen Mary restored England to Catholicism
Protestants either died or escaped
Protestants that escaped fled to places in Europe where other
Protestants could protect them (especially Geneva)
B. Predestination and Christian Liberty
» Calvin and his followers fled to Greece. He and his followers believed that
the Roman Catholic church has deviated from true Christianity
» Calvinists believed that you had to read the New Testament very
carefully, before things in the Old Testament, and before St. Paul
Believed you had to go back to the way it was before, before the
Romans polluted it
» Predestination: one of the arguments that the Christian bible makes is
that someday there will be a great reckoning, where the end of the world
will come (when Jesus comes back)
Judgment day: when the divine would select some to go into heaven
and be immortal, whereas the others will be put in a less comfortable
» Calvin took the basic premise that all Christians believed in and pushed it
to the limit and questioned it
If God is omniscient and omnipotent, then God must already know
who is going to hell and who is going to heaven
It follows, therefore, that life must be predetermined
Practical effect of this ‘logic’: part of the structure of the Roman
Catholic church had been used to encourage people to believe that by
the things that they do in the world, people can earn their way into
Not only heaven and hell, but also purgatory: Roman Catholic Church
says that you can help relatives speed through purgatory by praying for them constantly. Or paying the church to do it for you. Church
raked in money!
◊ Accused the church of being a corrupt, money making system.
C. Social and Political Consequences of Puritan Belief
» As more people believe in Calvin’s idea, social and political structures
» Led to the colonization of Massachusetts
» Old city of Boston, England able to build a huge church before the
reformation (when England was still part of the Roman Catholic church)
» John Cotton: fervent bible reader and believer in what Calvin and his
» People like John Cotton who thought that the original reformation, that
Elizabethan changes, were not enough, and he wanted to push it further.
» The people who read the bible like Cotton did started meeting in small
groups, people who thought of themselves as insiders.
» Social and political conflicts in the subject of changing the structure of the
D. Political Setbacks and Cultural Conflicts in England
» Elizabeth decided not to listen to the Puritan movement, but when she
died King James VI was very interested in religion, and the Puritans hoped
that he would listen to them.
» Hampton Court Conference: religious leaders met with King James. James
then says he wants to keep the structu