American history books begin with little background on England's history. However, English History is important when discussing the beginning of American History and not only when we get to the American Revolution. Although Jamestown was founded in 1607 and later became a successful colony, it was not until the Pilgrims arrived in the Mayflower and settled in Plymouth in 1620 followed by John Withrop in 1630 settling the Massachsetts Bay Colony that we see cohesive successful colony incorporation. Much has been said about the steadfastness of this group and much of this has been attributed to their religion.
When Henry Vlll the Tudor Monarch from 1509-1547 separated from the established Catholic Church he denounced the leadership and power of the pope in Rome. Henry wanted to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, to marry Anne Boleyn and was not granted permission to do so. He started his own church the Anglican Church. The expectation was that this church would mirror the the pomp and circumstance so prevalent in the Roman Catholic Church and adhere the basic tenets held by the catholic church. At the same time there was a rise in Protestantism led by followers of Martin Luther and Calvin. This group protested the established Church thereby called protestants and wanted to purify the church therefore called their movement the Reformation.
It is important for the teacher of History to understand more in depth the relationship the successors of throne in England had on the politics and religion of early leaders of the colonies. Henry's divorce and subsequent marriages created heirs which had an impact on the rise of puritanism and fueled the ever present anti catholic sentiment of the English people. Henry had only one son, Edward VI, who inherited the throne at the age of ten. During his reign protestantism advanced. A common prayer book and article of faith were imposed by Parliament. Edward died six years after becoming king. Mary, the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, become queen. She was a catholic and began to restore the old ways of worship. During her reign Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was a strong influence during Edward's reign was burned at the stake. Mary died after a short reign and is known in folklore as "Bloody Mary." Elizabeth, daughter of Ann Boleyn, and last surviving child of Henry became the queen and reigned from 1558-1603. The fights which ensued as to the rightful heir to the throne as a result of Henry's different marriages fueled the Catholic vs. Protestant conflict.
It was during Elizabeth's reign that the English defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 and Drake sailed around the world in 1577-1580. Elizabeth was a much loved monarch she never married and was the last of the Tudor line. The next line of Monarchs were the Stuarts. The Stuarts were clearly Protestant rulers however, the conflict continued as to how pure they were willing to make the Church. For the most part the Kings and nobleman wished to maintain the pomp and circumstance of the Anglican Church. James l ruled from 1603-1625 he did not like the protestants but also disliked the Catholics. The pilgrims set sail in the Mayflower in 1620. Charles l ruled from 1625-1649 he married a Catholic princess and was soft on Catholicism. It was during his reign that 15,000 to 20,000 people crossed the ocean. John Davenport set sail to America in 1637.
The above is a brief and not very scholarly description of English history I tell it only to set the stage for the important influences it had on the founders of the New England colonies, in particular John Davenport, founder of the New Haven Colony.