The impeachment and execution of Archbishop William Laud.

The Bishops` Wars in Scotland were essentially skirmishes in form, and a means of gaining time for Charles to gather resources about him for a decisive battle. But his grand scheme depended on money which he simply did not have nor could he obtain from his dwindling support. Inevitably Charles had to face up to having to recall Parliament.  The "Long Parliament", as it came to be called, met on 3rd November 1640, during which, on 18th December, Denzil Hollis impeached Laud for high treason and other high crimes  at the bar of the House of Lords. It was 26th February 1641, before the twenty-six charges were brought up by Sir Harry Vane the younger, son of the man who had doomed Laud`s friend and accomplice in `thorough` government, Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford.

 Prime among the charges laid against Laud were the sensitive and emotive matters of advising the king that he might impose taxes without consent of parliament; seeking absolute power for the King, and himself and the bishops  contrary to law; with perverting the course of justice, including bribery of the judges; imposing new ecclesiastical canons that were contrary both to law and the Royal prerogative; assuming a papal type power to subvert the true religion and introduce popish superstition; and that he had been the principal adviser and author of the recent wars against the Scots.

It was October before Laud's jurisdiction was sequestered by the House of Lords and about a year later that all the rents and profits of his Archbishopric, in common with those of all other eclesiastical offices, were seized for the use of the Commonwealth. By November 1642, Civil War had broken out between the King and parliament and Laud's fate was by then probably sealed yet it was spring before his property at Lambeth Palace was seized and an extensive and thorough search made by Laud`s old adversary William Prynne. As in the impeachment of Strafford, the accusers now dug deep into past activities seeking any evidence of wrongdoing, possibly both real and imagined. On 12th March 1644, he was finally brought to trial before the House of Lords where he stoutly defended himself and his actions, to such an extent that he overawed many of his audience. The trial lasted twenty days and was adjourned without coming to a decision. As with Strafford, it was the Commons who intervened on 13th November, with a Bill of Attainder. This was passed after just two days   and sent up to the Lords who also passed it on 4th January. On 10 January 1645 Archbishop William Laud was beheaded on Tower Hill.

 

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