Laud, William

( 157 3-1645)
   Anglican church leader deposed by the Puritan Parliament
   William Laud was born on October 7, 1573, at Reading, Berkshire. He studied at St John's College at Oxford University and was ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1601. He found a mentor in Richard Neile, bishop of Rochester, and rose quickly, becoming a chaplain to King James i. in 1521, he was appointed a bishop while serving as chaplain to the marquess of Buckingham.
   Laud presided at Charles I's coronation (1625). A close adviser to the king, he was rewarded by being made bishop of London in 1628, and archbishop of Canterbury in 1633.
   Laud combined a Reformed theology highly influenced by Arminianism with a "high church" emphasis on liturgy and a desire for uniform worship throughout the realm. Puritans, who wanted to purify the church of "Romanish elements," found Laud too close to Roman Catholicism in practice. They especially opposed his attempts to impose a uniform liturgy across England, the British isles, and the new colonies in North America.
   Laud made broad use of the secular authorities to assist him in silencing Puritan critics. When in 1637 Laud had Puritans William Prynne, Henry Burton, and John Bastwick tortured, the Puritans turned them into martyrs. Laud met his most vigorous opposition in Scotland, where a form of Presbyterianism had become established. His attempt to enforce acceptance of a new Anglican prayer book met with staunch opposition. Scottish opposition to Laud was seen in London as opposition to the Crown; Charles went to war and lost, and found himself broke.
   In response, Charles called Parliament back into session, but once summoned, Parliament took matters into its own hands. Oliver CROMWELL was among the vocal critics of Laud, who in February 1641 was arrested and placed in the Tower of London. He was accused of assuming dictatorial power, bringing back popish superstition, and having caused the ruinous war with Scotland.
   While Laud languished in prison, Parliament removed the remaining bishops of the Church of England from office (1642) and in 1643 called for an assembly of Puritan leaders to meet at Westminster and draw up plans to reform the church. That assembly wrote the Westminster Confession OF FAITH and other documents that became the defining statements of Presbyterianism.
   Laud was tried in the House of Lords in March 1644. William Prynne, one of the men Laud had had tortured, served as his prosecutor. However, Prynne had a poor case, and Laud proved able in his own cause. The trial ended without a verdict. In November, the House of Commons passed a bill of attainder that condemned Laud by special decree. He was beheaded on January 10, 1645.
   See also United Kingdom.
   Further reading:
   ■ E. C. E. Bourne, The Anglicanism of William Laud (London: S.P.C.K., 1947)
   ■ Charles Carlton, Archbishop William Laud (London, Rout-ledge & Kegan, 1987)
   ■ W. H. Hutton, William Laud (London: Methuen, 1895)
   ■ William Laud, Works, ed. by W. Scott and J. Bliss, 7 vols. (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1847-60)
   ■ Charles Hare Simpkinson, The Life and Times of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury (London: John Murray, 1894).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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  • Laud,William — Laud (lôd), William. 1573 1645. English prelate who as archbishop of Canterbury (1633 1645) supported Charles I and absolutism in church and state. His attempts to impose High Church doctrine on Protestants in Scotland and England led to his… …   Universalium

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