The drive to make services uniform involved the enforcement of elements of the Elizabethan Settlement of 1559. Yet Laud went beyond imposing hitherto ignored directives. The most visible sign of Arminian change was the railing of the altar at the east end of the church. This measure created the impression of distinction between the lay congregation and the clergy, it implied the clergy had greater mediation with God, something the Reformation with the belief in the 'priesthood of all believers' since Martin Luther had sought to undermine. A further implication was that it made the Eucharist seem a more sacrificial sacrament, more Catholic than the Protestant emphasis on commemoration. A number of churches underwent further physical changes. Some were endowed with stained glass - which immediately raised charges of idolatry - and organs and choir-stalls.
As Strafford had brought the policy of 'Thorough' to his political duties during the Personal Rule, Laud applied it to his jurisdiction over the Church. Laud wanted to ensure reforms were carried out thoroughly and efficiently. Bishops were ordered to reside in their dioceses and required to make regular visitations. Clergymen infringing Canons were summoned to a church court of that of High Commission - the latter was a prerogative court, and thus outside the jurisdiction of the common law. Laud exploited this to enforce his policies, and the measure of hostility and fear this created is evident by its dissolution by the Long Parliament in 1641.
It is difficult to ascertain just how unpopular the Arminian reforms to the Church were since in the absence of parliaments, there existed no other forum for expressions of public dissatisfaction. It is clear that opposition was by no means widespread - some favoured the new services, others welcomed the Book of Sports . However, Laud's reforms certainly offended and alienated large sections of the population who became concerned about the direction of religious policy under Charles I.
[4. The Book of Sports: an official list of activities (such as dancing and archery) considered lawful on Sundays in England. The Book was originally issued under James I in 1618. Conflict ensued with the Puritans, for whom any sort of frivolity on the sabbath was considered blasphemous and distasteful. Many clergymen were offended by James's order that the Book be read from the pulpit as it gave the impression to congregations that they approved of the listed activities. Under James I however the Book raised relatively few protests. Charles I reissued the Book in 1633, but this time it encountered deeper and more extensive hostility particularly as it was considered part of Charles's wider aim to subvert the Church of England to popish ways. Further some country gentry opposed the Book as it represented a potential threat to their governmental duties in the provinces - many considered it dangerous in that it may encourage social unrest or disorder by sanctioning 'immoral' pursuits such as dancing.]
One form of expressing disaffection with the religious policy of the Personal Rule was emigration. During the 1630s emigration to New England increased markedly. For many of those who considered emigration, it was the only way to escape what they feared were wholly unacceptable popish innovations without actively resisting royal authority. Another means of expressing opposition to Laud's stranglehold over the Church was printed propaganda. Puritan pamphlets were distributed in which the Arminian bishops were attacked, and described as 'vipers', 'bloodsuckers' and 'cruel stepfathers of the church'. However, this form of protest was dangerous - as the case of Prynne, Burton and Bastwick demonstrated - given Laud's control over Star Chamber and the Church courts. Laud was unpopular among many of the gentry because they saw him as a threat to position and property. This was all the more acute because Laud himself was an 'upstart', not of a gentlemanly background - Prynne called the Archbishop 'a little, low, red-face man'. One of Laud's ambitions was to restore the wealth of the Anglican Church, much depreciated since the Reformation. He wished to do this so that he could raise the status of the clergy. There were restrictions on ecclesiastical landlords; Laud wanted to stop the practice of bishops offering long leases on low rent but with high entry charges, which often impoverished clergy. The gentry were the tenants who lost out most. Laud also attempted to recover impropriations for the Church to increase clerical stipends - the difficulty was that it had largely been the gentry who had bought up the rights to collect tithes. Another minor point concerned the way in which Arminianism blurred social distinction in practical ways - such as the demand for equal sized pews in churches. Further, the gentry, who were the governing and judicial class in the provinces, feared disorder may ensue with the re-issue of the Book of Sports -
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