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