The Factors That Lead to Charles I’s Decision to Impose a Prayer Book on Scotland in 1637

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Explain the factors that lead to Charles I’s decision to impose a prayer book on Scotland in 1637. Evaluate the political, religious and social consequences of the decision. Charles’ decision to impose a prayer book on Scotland in 1637 proved to be an ill-advised move. It was due in part to Charles’ obsession with creating a unified Kingdom based on his strongly held Laudian religious ideas. Without understanding the Scottish plight he brashly introduced the prayer book, triggering a Scottish backlash against not only against religious reforms but Charles’ foreign rule. Rallying behind their National Covenant, the Scottish manoeuvred Charles into a position through the First and Second Bishops Wars where he was forced to call Parliament. This signified an end to his eleven year Personal Rule and the beginning of a road towards a figurehead monarchy. Throughout the rule of Charles I, England and Scotland were decidedly Protestant. Nevertheless the factions within this created conflict that Charles’ religious policies exacerbated. Charles favoured the High Church Arminian group within the Church of England, because they stressed the God-like nature of the King. This was led by William Laud and with his promotion to Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633 this group obtained significant power and authority. They believed in ‘the beauty of holiness’ - that ceremonies, statues, priests and vestments were essential rudiments of Church service. The English Puritans were Calvinists and hated what seemed a return to the ‘popery’ of Catholicism. Laud was viewed by many as a “little thief put into the window of the church to unlock the door to popery.” In Scotland after the abdication of Mary Queen of Scots in 1567, a Presbyterian church had been established. Scottish Presbyterians were even more anti-Catholic than the Puritans. They believed that Bishops should be abolished and replaced by elders elected by a church council. Both Puritan and Presbyterian groups formed the majority and were invariably aware of the danger of a return to the Papacy. Catholicism was associated with the burnings of Protestants under Mary and with their enemies Spain and France. Charles decision to impose the Book of Common Prayer on Scotland was due in part to his desire to impose uniformity throughout his three kingdoms. This was known as his policy of Thorough and dictated Laud dismissing, arresting and torturing English Puritans. During Charles’ 11 year tyranny, Laudianism was established throughout England but was resented by many of his English subjects. Wentworth also brutally imposed this policy of Thorough in Ireland. The Catholic Church was remodelled on Laudian lines and the Irish were reduced to a state of obedience. In 1633 Charles became aware of the need to extend this policy of Thorough into Scotland. When after eight years Charles finally visited for his coronations he was appalled by the state of the Church with its lack of ceremony and scripted prayers. He saw it necessary to bring it back into line with the Laudian, Anglican Church of England. As one who ruled by Divine right, he believed it was his sacred duty an obligation that eventually was to cost him dearly. Laud supported him in this, believing that the introduction of a common prayer book would induce ‘devout and religious piety’ that was sorely lacking in Scotland. Despite his Scottish birth, Charles’ had become estranged from Scotland and his ignorance led him to interfere disastrously in their religious observances. Charles had very little understanding of Scottish affairs and even less of prevailing Scottish opinion. Combined with his sense of Anglo-Saxon superiority, rendering a mutual understanding was sure to be impossible. Charles had also, by the first acts of his reign raised suspicions of the soundness of his Protestantism among his Scottish subjects such as his marriage to Henrietta Maria. Worsened by the offense caused by conducting a Laudian coronation ceremony, these...
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