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“Great Pride and Insolence”: Spiritual Justifications for Violence in the Pequot War

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image of Journal of Early American History

In 1637 a coalition of soldiers from Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and allied natives attacked the Pequot fortification at Mystic, Connecticut culminating in the deliberate incineration of hundreds of Pequot men, women, and children. As part of the larger Pequot War (1636–37), the incident at Fort Mystic represents a distinctly “Puritan” moment of heightened aggression grounded in Puritan beliefs of humility and pride. Over the course of the 1630s the Puritans increasingly associated the entire Pequot nation with a myriad of sins, including pride, insolence, and an unwillingness to submit to the Christian God. This behavior was categorically opposed to Puritan expectations of Christian behavior that demanded humility. Puritans believed that when humble, God would intervene on one’s behalf, thus rewarding humility in the face of God’s greatness. The destruction of the Pequot was divine retribution on behalf of the godly against the sin of pride in the Pequot nation.

Affiliations: 1: College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA,


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