L'età dei Puritani



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After the death of Elizabeth, James VI of Scotland became the king of England, named James I.
James I believed in absolutism because he had been in touch with France (he was the son of a French). He had excluded both the Catholics both the Puritans from the Government, he was in favour of High Church.
The Catholics organized the “Gunpowder Plot”, because they wanted to blow up (far esplodere) the House of Parliament while the king and his ministers were sitting. Nowadays on November 5 there is a popular festival in which there are a lot of fireworks (fuochi d’artificio), and the children make a straw guy (pupazzo) and after they burn it in the square.
When James I died, his son, Charles I, became the new king of England. He considered himself the supreme head of the Country: he dissolved the Parliament. After that, he needed the help of Parliament, for the wars against France and Spain, so he was compelled to sign the “Petition of Rights” to summon (convocare) the Parliament again, in which they asked that no tax had to be imposed without the approval of the Parliament, and that no man could be imprisoned without a trial (processo). He refused the “Petition” and ruled the Country as an absolute monarch. (Charles I, from a religious point of view, was in favour the High Church.) But in 1640 there were some rebellions in Scotland, so he had to summon the Parliament again; after 3 weeks he dissolved it: it is remembered as “the short Parliament”. After a short time, he summoned the Parliament in which there was a great opposition to the king (“Long Parliament”): infact, it asked the king to accept the “Petition of Rights”; when the king refused, the Civil War begun.
In 1642, the civil war started between the Parliament and the king. The Parliamentarians were called Roundheads, because they cut their hair short. They wanted simplicity in their life, equality among people and a great respect of the Religious principals; for this reason they were called Puritans (from the Latin purus, -a, -um), because they wanted purity.
On the other side there were the Cavaliers, who supported the king. The Puritans were lead by Oliver Cromwell who defeated (sconfisse) the king and he sentenced him to death in 1649 (he was the first king who was sentenced to death by the Parliament). After that, we have the Commonwealth. At first he ruled together with the House of Commons, but then he declared himself Lord Protector and ruled by himself.
The Age of Republic was positive from the political point of view, but it was negative from the social one: Cromwell made some lucky military campaigns in Scotland and Ireland and he affirmed the English Power. It’s important to remember the navigation act, that he signed with Oland, that assured the safe transport of the goods (il trasporto sicuro delle merci); from the social point of view, English society was characterized by Puritan way of living, based on religion: all the people had to live with simplicity, without any forms of entertainment (infact he closed the theatres and he forbade (proibì) betting (le scommesse), dance, love poetry). They also had to wear simple clothes: if men cut their hair short, women had to wear some long skirts. Also at table the Puritans had to be very simple. Infact they used to eat just fruit and vegetables because meat was considered a privilege to have only for particular periods. However these people were not poor, because they were shipbuilders, business men, bakers and merchants. Puritans lived in a frugal way, and they accumulated a lot of great capitals they didn’t waste; these capitals were the bases for the future development for the England.