January 10th 1645: Laud executed

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William Laud (1573 – 1645)

On this day in 1645 the Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud was executed for treason at the Tower of London. He was appointed to the archbishopric in 1633, during the reign of King Charles I. Laud worked closely with the King, and his tenure was marked by conflict with Puritans. The latter felt so threatened that many set sail for the North American colonies to be free from persecution. His focus on ceremony led to rumours that he held ‘popish’ (Catholic) sympathies. His dominance of religious policy made him a target of popular hostility.

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Etching of Laud’s trial by Wenceslaus Hollar

Charles had to call Parliament in 1640, and on 18th December he was impeached for high treason by the Commons. By the time of his execution in 1645, the English Civil War was in full swing. Laud was buried in a London church, but after the Restoration his remains were moved to the chapel of St John’s College, Oxford.

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