Today The Church Remembers Archbishop William Laud

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William Laud was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 until his execution in 1645. Born at Reading on 7 October 1573, Laud went to Oxford University and eventually became a fellow of his own college, St. John’s College. In the year 1601, he was ordained first as a deacon, and then as a priest. Throughout his ordained career, William Laud enforced a very strict adherence to the Book of Common Prayer, to traditional practices such as bowing at the name of Jesus, and to the placement of the altar at the east end of the church (rather than having a table in the middle), amongst other things. He also strongly opposed the Puritans and their less catholic practices.

Laud became Archbishop of Canterbury and religious advisor to King Charles I of England. By 1640, there were lots of protests against Laud and his persecution of the Puritans. He was thrown into jail (at the Tower of London), and with the country descending into the English Civil Wars that ended the reign of Charles I, Laud went to trial. When a verdict failed to be reached, Parliament passed a bill of attainder under which he was beheaded on 10 January 1645.

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