By Kenneth Fincham

The early Stuart Church turned a battlefield for rival visions of English society. Fincham's choice of essays grapples with contentious concerns within the interpretation of early British background together with the character of the protracted English Reformation, the existing theology and ethos of the reformed English church, the position performed in church and society by means of the 1st Stuart monarchs, and the origins of the political and spiritual upheavals of the seventeenth century.

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The Early Stuart Church, 1603–1642

The early Stuart Church grew to become a battlefield for rival visions of English society. Fincham's selection of essays grapples with contentious matters within the interpretation of early British heritage together with the character of the protracted English Reformation, the present theology and ethos of the reformed English church, the function performed in church and society through the 1st Stuart monarchs, and the origins of the political and non secular upheavals of the seventeenth century.

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48 Laud's remorseless search for plausible deniability was triumphantly achieved at his trial, though it could not save him. For his part, Charles I had virtually no use for the conventional monarchical wisdom that allowed the sovereign to lay the blame for unpopular policies on his councillors. Charles evidently believed that the most easy and honourable way for him to secure the compliance of his subjects was to leave them in no doubt that official policies and demands were his own. This was a political technique he had perfected with Buckingham in the r620s and he persisted with it with Laud (and others) in the r630s.

19 Such an impulse to divide and rule was not confined to religious policy. It was a basic element in James's kingcraft, which had been formed and formulated in Scotland, where he had spent much time trying to escape from the controlling influence of contending noble and religious factions. Keith Brown has noted that Jacobean policy in the 1590S revolved around the tension between the council led by the administrator Maitland, the bedchamber led by his favourite Esme Stewart and a regime in the localities founded on the power of the conformist Catholic Huntley.

Similarly, from the pulpit Andrewes linked criticism of the Spanish Match and Calvinist predestinarian teaching as two aspects of the same puritan presumption, a shaft clearly aimed at Abbot and other Calvinist opponents of the marriage. James was well aware of these differences and enjoyed his role as a godly prince mediating between them. Significantly, he retained his independent stance by refusing to side decisively with one group. Thus in the hearing between Howson and Abbot in 1615,James cleared Howson of popery but also warned him to preach more often against Rome.

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