Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

The fact of James’s homosexuality would be enough to justify the conclusion that he was a matrist, but we have ample evidence of his permissive tendencies. Thus, when in Lancashire, a great centre of Puritanism, petitioners approached him asking him to oppose Puritan efforts to stop Sunday amusements, he responded by issuing his Book of Sports, and Ordered that no hindrance be offered to lawful sport. At the same time James’s upbringing had fostered his sense of Omnipotence. He had never known either a father or a monarch above him, and reacted violently to any threat to his own absolutism. Like Charles after him, James was only permissive when approached humbly. Unfortunately for the Stuarts, Parliament of independently minded men was growing up and was becoming steadily more self-assertive. These sturdy democrats sympathized with the desire of the extreme Puritans to worship “according to their conscience“, in much the same way as in the 1930’s the generous minded sympathized with Communist refugees from Fascism: preoccupied with the fact that the latter were in revolt against tyranny, they failed to observe they were in favour of a tyranny still more repulsive. Thus the Stuarts, by persecuting members of Parliament (such as Pym and Hampden), by provoking Scottish Presbyterians to war, and by other high-handed actions, drove father identifiers and democrats, whom we should expect to find on the other side, into an uneasy alliance.

The Puritan victory in the Civil War revealed the true situation. Puritan rule proved oppressive and restrictive far beyond what people had imagined. Popular feeling finally swept it out of power and restored the monarchy.

The story can be traced most easily in the history of Sunday observance, for the Puritans, when they found a direct approach blocked, decided to concentrate on restricting Sunday pleasures; since this was the only day on which the ordinary man could take his pleasures, the establishment of a Puritan Sunday was tantamount to the establishment of a Puritan regime. (246) As Jeremy Collier said:

“The Puritans having miscarried in their operations upon the Church, endeavoured to carry on their designs more under covert. Their magnifying the Sabbath day, as they called Sunday, was a serviceable expedient for the purpose.”