Jacobean Era: Religion & Beliefs

Instructor: Margaret Moran
The Jacobean Era was a time in England's history that fostered new beliefs while still embracing old religious ideals. This lesson focuses on the evolving religious beliefs of the time period.

The Jacobean Era

The Jacobean Era was a time in history that coincided directly with the reign of England's King James I, also known as James VI of Scotland, approximately from 1567-1625. He inherited the throne from his aunt, Elizabeth I. This was the time period in which England and Scotland were united under a single ruler and was a time of English history in which new lands were developed in the new world, both Jamestown and Plymouth Rock were founded in this time. It was a time of relative peace and stability following a time of intense religious conflict.

Religious Beliefs of the Jacobean Era

Prior to the Jacobean Era, England had been involved in a religious war spanning back to the time of Henry VIII. His abandonment of the Catholic religion in order to gain a divorce and marry Anne Boleyn had caused a distinct separation of Catholics and Protestants in England. The situation was further complicated by Queen Mary, Henry's heir, who was quick to transition the country back to strict Catholic beliefs, amazingly even going as far as to burn Protestant believers at the stake. Queen Elizabeth I came next as monarch and further confused the situation by going back to Protestantism. She had served as the head of the Church of England, and James followed suit.

With James adhering to the Protestant faith strongly, the Jacobean era became a time of renewed religious fervor in England. Puritanism flourished in this new time, and many Puritans had hopes for James to purify the Church of England by extinguishing all its Catholic roots. However, they were disappointed when he did the exact opposite and tried to unite the two major factions by encouraging Catholic traditions be included in the doctrine of Church of England.

King James's attempt to pacify the Puritans came in 1604, when he gave orders for a new translation of the Bible to be written, now famously known as the King James Bible. This version of the holy text addressed many Puritan concerns and contains texts that emphasize the ecclesiology of the Church of England. Despite this gigantic effort, some Puritans were still so disillusioned that they decided to leave England completely upon the Mayflower. This group of dissenters would play an important part in both English as well as North American history by establishing the colony of Plymouth Rock where they were free to worship as they pleased.

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