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Puritans, English reforming Protestants who aimed for a simpler form of worship expressly warranted by Scripture, devout personal and family life, and the abolition of clerical hierarchy. They stressed self-discipline, work as a vocation, and the Christianizing of all spheres of life. Most were strict Calvinists. The term was first used in the 1560s for those dissatisfied with the compromise of the Elizabethan settlement of the Church of England; under James I, after their unsuccessful pleas for reform at the Hampton Court Conference (1604), some separated from the Church of England. Archbishop Laud set about systematic repression of Puritanism, causing some to emigrate to the colonies. The English Civil War—known also as the Puritan Revolution—led to the establishment of Presbyterianism, but under Oliver Cromwell Puritan dominance was weakened by internal strife. Most Puritans were forced to leave the Church after the Restoration (1660), becoming Nonconformists. Many New England settlers were Puritans, and their influence on the colonies was profound, especially their concern for education and church democracy.

See also: Protestantism.

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