Britannia Biographies: William Laud Part 9
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Biography of William Laud (1573-1645), Archbishop of Canterbury

Part 9: friends & Enemies

Prynne, it must be confessed, had had something to make his bitterness of Laud and those of a near-papist stance excusable. For his famous 'Histrio-mastix,' an attack upon stage-plays in one passage of which he was accused of having reflected upon the Queen, he was, in 1633, sentenced in the Court of Star-Chamber to pay a fine of 5,000. He was to be expelled from the University of Oxford and the Society of Lincoln's Inn, to be degraded and forever disabled from exercising his profession of the law, to stand twice in the pillory, to have both his ears cut off and to suffer perpetual imprisonment. After he had had his ears sewed on again, he was a second time brought up before the same court, in June 1637, for a pamphlet which he had published since his incarceration. He was sentenced to have his ears again shorn off, to stand in the pillory as before and to be branded on both cheeks with the letters SL (for Schismatical Libeller). He was accordingly consigned to Caernarfon Castle, whence he was afterwards removed to Mount Orgueil Castle in the Isle of Jersey. There he lay till he was released, with other victims of the Star Chamber and the Court of High Commission, by an order of the House of Commons in November 1640. It was at the same time that Prynne received his second sentence that similar sentences were passed upon Dr. John Bastwick, a physician (who had also been fined and otherwise punished for a former book in 1633), for a publication in which he had reflected upon the bishops. And also upon the Rev. Henry Burton, Rector of St. Matthew's Church, Friday Street, London, for two sermons which he had preached and a pamphlet which, after he had been thrown into prison on account of the sermons, he had published in their vindication. Bastwick lay in one of the Scilly Isles and Burton in the Island of Guernsey, until they were released along with Prynne.

Meanwhile, Laud had been mounting higher and higher. In June 1632, he had got his dependant, or at least his intimate friend, Sir Francis Windebank, made Secretary. He notes in his Diary that he had obtained the place for him from the King. We may mention here that Windebank was afterwards charged by the parliament with having been a confederate of Laud's in his tyrannical and papistical system, but escaped destruction by flying to the Continent. About three weeks after Windebank's appointment, he obtained another firm ally in Dr. Juxon, Dean of Worcester, who was made Clerk of the Closet. Laud had sued for this, he tells us, so that he might have someone whom he could trust near his Majesty, if he should himself grow weak and infirm: "as," he adds, "I must have a time." In 1633, he attended the King on his visit to Scotland. On 15th June, he was sworn onto the Privy Council of that country and, on 4th August, a few days after his return to London, news came to court of the death, that morning, of Abbot, Archbishop of' Canterbury. On which, Laud tells us, the King resolved presently to give him the place. "That very morning," he also states, "at Greenwich, there came one to me seriously, and that avowed ability to perform it, and offered me to be a cardinal. I went presently to the King and acquainted him both with the thing and the person." About a fortnight afterwards, this offer was renewed but," says he, "my answer again was that something dwelt within me which would not suffer that till Rome were other than it is." On 14th September, he was chosen Chancellor of the University of Dublin and, on 19th of the same month, he was translated to the Archbishopric and the Primacy of the English Church.

Part 10: Reforming Archbishop      Copyright ©2000, LLC