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William Laud

1573-1645. Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633. Educated at St. John's College, Oxford, he reacted, under the influence of the president, John Buckeridge, against the dominant Calvinism and became convinced of the importance of the episcopal organization of the Anglican Church, and of the observance of external order. Himself elected president in 1611, he tried to reintroduce pre-Reformation liturgical practices. In 1616 he became dean of Gloucester, where he moved the Communion table from the nave to the east end of the choir. Made bishop of St. Davids in 1621, he engaged in a conference with “Fisher the Jesuit” during which he admitted that the Church of Rome was a true church “because it received the Scriptures as a rule of faith . . . and both the sacraments.” His views commended themselves to Charles I, who translated him to Bath and Wells in 1626, to London in 1628, and to Canterbury in 1633.

He encouraged the reintroduction into churches of stained- glass windows, crosses, even crucifixes, and railed altars, and of practices such as bowing whenever the name of Jesus was mentioned, and making the sign of the cross in baptism. During his provincial visitation of 1634-36 he tried to secure uniformity without regard for conscientiously held objections, and used the Star Chamber to enforce this. Charles I's Declaration of Sports allowed on Sundays, published in 1637, was probably instigated by Laud in opposition to Puritan views of the Sabbath. He supported the king's new Prayer Book for Scotland, which led to the eruption in St. Giles' in 1637. In 1640 he secured the passing by Convocation of canons maintaining the divine right of kings,* but was obliged to suspend the oath binding men never to alter the government of the church. Imprisoned by Parliament in 1641, he was executed for treason in January 1645.

Collected works (ed. W. Scott and J. Bliss, 1847-60); E.C.E. Bourne, The Anglicanism of William Laud (1947); H.R. Trevor-Roper, Archbishop Laud, 1573-1645 (1962).

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