Prynne, William

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Prynne, William (1600–69). Puritan lawyer, antiquarian, and politician. Educated at Oriel College, Oxford, and Lincoln's Inn, Prynne was hauled before the Court of Star Chamber in 1634 for publishing the Histriomastix. This work, a 1,000-page denunciation of female actors and of theatre in general, was interpreted as an attack on Charles I and Henrietta Maria. Prynne was rewarded with the loss of his ears. His attacks on the bishops landed him a second time before Star Chamber in 1637, where he was sentenced to lose what remained of his ears. After his release by the Long Parliament in 1640, Prynne was instrumental in securing the conviction and death of his enemy Archbishop Laud. He next turned his fire against religious radicals and the New Model Army. The army cordially returned his hostility, and had him arrested at Pride's Purge (6 December 1648). He continued to write long-winded pamphlets against the republic, popery, and quakerism during the 1650s. When the Long Parliament was recalled, Prynne introduced the bill in March 1660 for its dissolution. As a member of both Convention and Cavalier parliaments, he remained a presbyterian and resumed his attacks on bishops.

Ian Gentles

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William Prynne

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