Of Plymouth Plantation

Of Plymouth Plantation Book 1, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In Holland, the English reformers are intimidated by the strange language and customs. They work hard to avoid falling into poverty. Settling in the city of Leyden, famous for its university, the English manage to support themselves. The unofficial leader of the English, John Robinson, along with his assistant, William Brewster, fosters a strong congregation. Robinson is beloved among his congregants.
At the time, Leyden was a seat of religious and political thought, and a home to some of the most notable Protestant theologians in Europe. The reformers are impoverished during their time in Leyden, however, since they don’t have any real experience with Dutch culture.
Themes
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Bradford says he won’t dwell on the details of the English reformers’ lives in Holland, since his subject is Plymouth. However, Bradford will address the slanderous rumor that the English left Holland because of their poor reputation. On the contrary, he says, English reformers had a reputation for honesty. However, they became embroiled in a feud with the Arminian (i.e., Dutch Protestant reformer) population. The Arminians were well educated, and Robinson engaged in many theological debates with their leader, Poliander. Robinson was so successful in the debates that many prominent Dutchmen became sympathetic to Robinson’s ideas, and invited Robinson’s congregation to remain in the country.
Here Bradford seems to be obscuring the truth in the interest of representing the Pilgrims in a favorable light. He goes out of his way to insist that the Pilgrims, contrary to what others have said, were well behaved and beloved in Leyden. At the time, however, it was extremely rare for people to uproot themselves and leave the country, and usually, it only happened when the people were being punished for something. Thus, Bradford is trying to defend his people from the impression that they might have left Holland because they wore out their welcome in some way.
Themes
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Bias and Propaganda Theme Icon