Ward's Book of Days.
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What happened on this day in history.
On this day in history in 1573, was born William Laud.
Laud was archbishop of Canterbury, and religious adviser to Charles I, who persecuted religious dissidents, who in turn persecuted him.
Laud was born on 7th October 1573, at Reading, the son of a cloth merchant. He was educated at Reading Grammar School and St John's College, Oxford. He took holy orders and remained at Oxford until he was nearly 50, as academic and clergyman.
In 1611, on account of his long service in the church, Laud was appointed one of the royal chaplains to James I. In this position, he supported James in his attempts to unify the Churches of England and Scotland. He became known as an enemy of Puritanism and a supporter of the orthodox form of worship, in strict accordance with the Book of Common Prayer. When Charles I came to the throne in 1625, Laud’s conservatism earned him a place on the Privy Council, and the appointment as Bishop of London, with the task of combating Puritanism.
In London, Laud devoted himself to enforcing the proper form of service, as laid down by the king. He insisted on the wearing of surplices, separation of the communion table from the congregation, and other ceremonies, designed to dignify the process of worship. In addition, Laud restored and consecrated many run down churches, including St Paul's Cathedral. He attacked Puritans wherever he could find them. He particularly disliked their emphasis on preaching, as opposed to sacramental worship. Laud dismissed from office any clergyman who had Puritan sympathies, or we preached or spoke too much. His enemies circulated a sneering caption ‘Give great praise to the Lord and little laud to the devil’.
In 1633, Laud became Archbishop of Canterbury, and received instructions from the King to pursue his form of justice in the Royal courts. Laud rounded up all Puritan propagandists and put them on trial. Most of the accused were imprisoned for short periods but some who had attacked Laud personally were dealt with more harshly. Two in particular, Alexander Leighton and William Prynne, were sentenced to mutilation, having their noses cut off and being branded on the cheeks.
Unfortunately for Laud, Charles I was defeated by the Puritan Parliamentary forces in the Civil War, and Laud himself was put on trial. Ironically the prosecution was led by Prynne, one of those he had mutilated. Despite a complete lack of evidence against him, Laud was convicted by an ‘ordinance of attainder’, a declaration of guilt by Parliament, and on 10th January 1645, was beheaded. Laud was buried in the chapel of St John’s College. [St John’s College, St Giles, Oxford. OX1 3JP]
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