What is the meaning of "Puritanism" ?
In the 1560's, the word Puritan was first coined as a derisive name for those who advocated more purity in Christian doctrine and practices. Puritans emphasized a direct religious experience between the individual and God, strict moral conduct, and simple worship services--a rejection of the customs of the Catholic and the Anglican churches.
After James I became King of England in 1603, he was asked to make reforms by leaders of Puritanism; however, he rejected most of the measures. Nevertheless, Puritanism gleaned popular support. While this support was growing, Archbishop William Laud of the Anglican Church became more and more repressive. This repression of Puritanism by Laud, as well as the English government, led to the emigration of many of the Puritans.
The great body of Puritans were horrified by the Separatists. This is the name of the radical sect that believed churches should be independent of any government. The Separatists endangered the cause of the Puritans by offering proofs of how Puritanism was really what the English government had declared it: "anarchical, subversive, and disloyal."
William Bradford and others were part of this radical group of Separatists. Like the Puritans, however, they believed that the will of God directs and guides the universe (predestination). Clearly, this belief is reflected in the anecdotes which Bradford includes in his Plymouth Plantation. His accounts, written in plain and grim facts, is also typical of Puritanical writings. Here is an example:
"The Starving Time"
But that which was most sad and lamentable was that in two or three months" time half of their company died,[no details] especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts.