William Prynne

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Puritan William Prynne (1600–69) wrote and distributed pamphlets, including his famous pamphlet Histrio Mastix (1632) that attacked stage-plays liked by Queen Henrietta Maria. Prynne's writings caused him to be tried before the monarch's Star Chamber and he was convicted. His sentence in 1634 was life imprisonment and the cropping of his ears (removal of part of his ears to disfigure him). But he continued to write pamphlets and in 1637 he was further punished by the branding of the remainder of his ears with the letters SL for 'seditious libeller'.

In 1640, the Long Parliament limited the absolute power of the monarch and freed Prynne, and he was even elected to Parliament himself in 1648. But in December 1648 the English army (led by the Puritan Colonel Thomas Pride) led a coup that excluded more than 100 members of Parliament who sought to settle with Charles I, including the Puritan Prynne, from the House of Commons. That was known as "Pride's Purge." A "rump" Parliament then assembled without these excluded members, and ordered the execution of Charles I.