The Profane, the Civil, and the Godly

The Reformation of Manners in Orthodox New England, 16791749

By (author) Richard P. Gildrie

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 April 1994

Length of book:

260 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271025957

In this prize-winning study of the sacred and profane in Puritan New England, Richard P. Gildrie seeks to understand not only the fears, aspirations, and moral theories of Puritan reformers but also the customs and attitudes they sought to transform. Topics include tavern mores, family order, witchcraft, criminality, and popular religion. Gildrie demonstrates that Puritanism succeeded in shaping regional society and culture for generations not because New Englanders knew no alternatives but because it offered a compelling vision of human dignity capable of incorporating and adapting crucial elements of popular mores and aspirations.

“Richard Gildrie has given us an original, provocative, and well-written account of the Puritan ‘Reformation of Manners’ and its intersection with the newly invigorated English folkways of late seventeenth-century New England. Students will like it for its engaging vignettes of New England life as well as for the clarity of its argument. The title, drawn from the reformers’ typology, conveys the dynamic quality of the New England Gildrie portrays. This is not a rigid ‘Puritan’ world but a world in tension between different, but equally colorful and distinct views of the world.”

—Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, author of A Midwife's Tale