Khruleva Irina

“The character of a good ruler”: an evolution of ideas of power in the political doctrine of puritanism of New England in the 17th — 18th centuries

Khruleva Irina (2021) "“The character of a good ruler”: an evolution of ideas of power in the political doctrine of puritanism of New England in the 17th — 18th centuries ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2021, vol. 99, pp. 9-35 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII202199.9-35


This article is devoted to the evolution of the ideas of the Puritans of New England about the origin of the institution of secular power, the power of rulers, their responsibility to the people and the possibility of rebellion against tyrants. Guided by the concept of a national covenant, the founders of the Colony of Massachusetts proclaimed the collective responsibility of all members of the Puritan community to adhere to divine precepts. The tasks of the leaders of colonies of New England primarily involved monitoring the observance of religious norms, and the Puritan political discourse of the first half of the 17th century was dominated by the theme of the subordination of ordinary participants in the “Puritan experiment” to wise and pious rulers who care about the “common good”. Unlike the Puritan political sermons and pamphlets of the first half of the 17th century, the polemical literature of the Glorious Revolution period is practically devoid of religious argumentation. From this time on, the task of the secular ruler primarily involved protecting the “ancient rights and privileges” of the subjects of the English crown, the principle of equality of natural rights of people, rather than the “true” Puritan faith. The natural-law argumentation of the Puritan preachers was incorporated into traditional theological discourse; nevertheless, their sermons served as an important channel of intellectual transfer, creating favourable conditions for the inhabitants of New England to fully perceive the concepts of the Enlightenment, including those concerning the origin of political power, the preferred model of state structure, the duties of rulers as related to their subjects, justifying the rights and freedoms of the colonists and guaranties of their observance. Congregational ministers in New England played a unique role in mobilising the patriotic camp during the Revolutionary War. By actively participating in the discussion of the issue of republican virtue, the Puritan ministers gave the process of building a new state in North America a moral dimension.


American Revolution, New England Puritanism, US history, religion in USA, political doctrine, democratic culture


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Information about the author

Khruleva Irina

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in History;
Place of work: Lomonosov Moscow State University; 27/4 Lomonosovskiy prospekt, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation;
Post: associate professor;
ORCID: 0000-0001-8888-9091;
Email: irinakhruleva@mail.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.