Dedication to a Cause
January 10, 1645: William Laud is beheaded. Laud was born in 1573 in what was considered low position. His father was a wealthy cloth merchant and could send his son to good schools. William received a scholarship to attend St John’s College, Oxford where he excelled. He was ordained in 1601 and was known for backing the High Church and for disparaging Puritanism. He was both intellectually and organizationally brilliant which helped him rise in rank through the church. He was, however, quite controversial in his beliefs and was willing to share those tenets with one and all, often leading him into trouble.
This period in English history is fraught with religious upheaval. The differences between the Church of England and the Catholic Church became fodder for wars. Laud’s theology was based solely on his understanding of what God wanted and did not align with the Church of England nor the Roman Church. He was accused of not being either one or the other, but instead a capricious believer who could not be counted on to preach the Gospel as it should be preached. Even so, when Charles I came to power, Laud was in favor with the ruler. He advocated for a bridge between Church and State and to give more power and obedience to the King.
Laud was appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633 and confirmed one month later. He had waited ten years for the appointment and by the time he was promoted, he was rigid in his beliefs and not willing to compromise. His main point of contention was the Puritans. Laud wished to see uniformity across the Church of England and saw it as his duty to make it happen. Those who were faced with the consequences of this belief saw it as tyranny and persecution. His popularity with the people and with the King fell. He was charged with treason in 1640. There were 14 articles of impeachment and after his trial, Laud was sent to the Tower of London. Later, he was granted a royal pardon.
While this pardon kept him from being executed, it did not let him out of the Tower. He remained there for years. In 1643 he was ordered to appoint a despised opponent to a position of power. The King instructed him to disobey the Parliamentary order. Again he was brought to trial. The trial was run with many irregularities. Witnesses were interfered with, the judgment panel was not always present (although the Speaker always was), and Laud was not given a chance to refute charges until the final day. He was sentenced to death and on this day that sentence was carried out. He was 71 years old at the time.
Of all the prelates of the Anglican Church, Laud had departed farthest from the principles of the Reformation, and had drawn nearest to Rome. – Thomas Babington
He was a man of great parts, and very exemplar virtues, allayed and discredited by some unpopular natural infirmities; the greatest of which was (besides a hasty, sharp way of expressing himself,) that he believed innocence of heart and integrity of manners was a guard strong enough to secure any man in his voyage through this world. – Edward Hyde
[Laud is] the roote and ground of all our miseries and calamities…look upon him as he is in his highness, and he is the very sty of all pestilential filth, that hath infected the State and Government of this Commonwealth. – Harbottle Grimston
I am almost every day threatened with my ruin in parliament. – William Laud
Also on this day: No. 5 – In 1971, Coco Chanel died.
Point of No Return – In 49 BC, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon.
The Tube – In 1863, London’s Metropolitan Underground Railroad opened for business.
Uncommon Sense – In 1776, a pamphlet was published anonymously.