England was a late entry in the race to colonize the New World, although its motives-wealth, national glory, religious zeal-were similar to those of the older colonial powers. Still, by the standards of the time, England was asecond-rate power, and it is one of the ironies of history that its colonies not only succeeded, but eventually formed part of an imperial system that would cover half the world.England's rise to imperial glory resulted, in part, from a series of revolutionary changes in its social, political, and economic structures in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Some of these changes-such as thedevelopment of a strong centralized monarchy, the Protestant Reformation, and commercial expansion-also affected the rest of Europe and aided the decline of medieval customs, values, and institutions. Others-theemergence of Parliament, for example-reflected the peculiar character of England's own history. Certainly it is impossible to understand why or how England expanded into the New world without knowing about itsinternal development and associated problems over a span of two or three centuries.Another explanation for England's success rests in the character of its colonies and their people. In particular, the sugar islands of the West Indies and the two largest colonies on the North American mainland,Massachusetts and Virginia, contributed greatly to the rise of England's imperial preeminence. Again, the evolution of these colonies owed much to England's own development. Internal difficulties, such as the Civil Warsof the 1640s, gave the mainland colonies an opportunity to grow, relatively free from English interference or restriction. The results were spectacular.Hardy pioneers-often the misfits of English society carved out viable societies based on strong economies, representative political institutions, and a labor system combining free labor, indentured servitude, and slavery.Study the early histories of Massachusetts Bay and Virginia carefully; those colonies, however much they were a product of trial and error, produced the blueprints that subsequent mainland colony followed. England's success as a colonial power resulted more from the hardiness and ingenuity of its colonists than from the wisdom of the Crown or the perseverance ofcompanies or proprietors. Nowhere was this more evident than in the settlement and development of the area known as New England. The New England colonies primarily attracted religious dissenters, and their motivesfor migration were mixtures of fear of persecution, zeal for a "godly commonwealth," and hope for economic security. Generally, the religious dissenters are called Puritans. They wanted to purify the Church of Englandfrom remaining vestiges of Catholicism. After separatist Puritans founded Plymouth ten years earlier, Massachusetts Bay became the mother colony, so to speak, of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. The lifestyle and beliefs of the New England Puritans, those people were ideally suited for the New World. Their religious zeal enabled them to endure the cruelties of the wilderness, while their skills most were either farmers or trades people-allowed them to recognize and develop the economic opportunities of the area. Hard working, God-fearing, irascible people, New England Puritans quickly turned their little colonies into profitable outposts of English culture.