- William Laud
Infobox Archbishop of Canterbury
Full name = William Laud
began = 1633
10 January 1645
predecessor = George Abbot
birth_date = birth date|1573|10|07
death_date = death date and age|1645|01|10|1573|10|07
Tower Hill, London
Archbishop William Laud (7 October 1573 - 10 January 1645) was
Archbishop of Canterburyfrom 1633 to 1645. He pursued a High Churchcourse and opposed Puritanism. This and his support for King Charles I resulted in his beheading in the midst of the English Civil War.
Laud was born in
Reading, Berkshire, of comparatively low origins, his father, also William, having been a cloth merchant(a fact about which he was to remain sensitive throughout his career). He was educated at Reading Schooland, through a White Scholarship, St John's College, Oxford. He was baptized at St Laurence's Church in Reading.
Laud was ordained on
5 April 1601and his Arminian, High Churchtendencies and antipathy to Puritanism, combined with his intellectual and organisational brilliance, soon gained him a reputation. At that time the Calvinist party was strong in the Church of England and Laud's affirmation of apostolic successionwas unpopular in many quarters. In 1605, somewhat against his will, he obliged his patron, Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devon, by performing his marriage service to a divorcée. In 1609 he became rector of West Tilburyin Essex.
Laud continued to rise through the ranks of the clergy, becoming the President of St John's College in 1611; a Prebendary of Lincoln in 1614 and Archdeacon of Huntingdon in 1615. He was consecrated
Bishop of St David'sin 1622 and was translated as the Bishop of Bath and Wellsin 1626 and the Bishop of Londonin 1628. Thanks to patrons, who included the king and George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, he reached the highest position the Church of Englandhad to offer, the Archbishopric of Canterbury, and with it the episcopal primacy of All England in 1633. As Archbishop of Canterburyhe was prominent in government, taking the king's line and that of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford in all important matters. It is believed that he wrote the controversial Declaration of Sportsissued by King Charles in 1633.
In 1630 Laud was elected as Chancellor of the
University of Oxfordand became much more closely involved in the running of the university than many of his predecessors had been. Laud was instrumental in establishing Oxford's Chair of Arabic and took an interest in acquiring Arabic manuscripts for the Bodleian Library. His most significant contribution was the creation of a new set of statutes for the university, a task completed in 1636. [Anthony Milton, "Laud, William (1573–1645)", "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed 5 Oct 2006 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/16112] ] Laud served as the fifth Chancellor of the University of Dublinbetween 1633 and 1645.
High church policy
The famous pun "give great praise to the Lord, and little laud to the devil" is a warning to Charles attributed to the official court jester or "fool" Archie Armstrong. Laud was known to be touchy about his diminutive stature.
Laud was a sincere Anglican and loyal Englishman, who must have been frustrated at the charges of
Poperylevelled against him by the Puritanelement in the Church. Whereas Strafford saw the political dangers of Puritanism, Laud saw the threat to the episcopacy. But the Puritans themselves felt threatened: the Counter-Reformationwas succeeding abroad, and the Thirty Years' Warwas not progressing to the advantage of the Protestants. It was inevitable that in this climate, Laud's aggressive high church policy was seen as a sinister development. A year after Laud's appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, the ship "Griffin" left for America, carrying religious dissidents such as Anne Hutchinson, Rev. John Lothroppand Rev. Zechariah Symmes.
Laud's policy was influenced by another aspect of his character: his desire to impose total uniformity on the Church. This, too, was driven by a sincere belief that this was the duty of his office, but, to those of even slightly differing views, it came as persecution. Perhaps this had the
unintended consequenceof garnering support for the most implacable opponents of the Anglican compromise. In 1637, William Prynne, John Bastwickand Henry Burton were convicted of seditious libeland had their ears cropped and their cheeks branded. Prynne reinterpreted the "SL" ("Seditious libeller") branded on his forehead as "Stigmata Laudis".
Long Parliamentof 1640 accused him of treasonand name him as a chief culprit in the Grand Remonstranceof 1641. Laud was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he remained throughout the early stages of the English Civil War. In the spring of 1644, he was brought to trial, but it ended without being able to reach a verdict. The parliament took up the issue, and eventually passed a bill of attainderunder which he was beheaded on January 10, 1645on Tower Hill, notwithstanding being granted a royal pardon.
William Laud is remembered in both the
Church of Englandand the Episcopal Church in the United States of Americawith a Commemoration on 10 January.
Hugh Trevor-Roper, "Archbishop Laud, 1573-1645" ISBN 1-84212-202-9
* [http://www.berkshirehistory.com/bios/wmlaud/index.html Royal Berkshire History: William Laud]
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