Conflicts within the established church in Warwickshire c. 1603-1642
This thesis examines the established church in Warwickshire from the accession of James I to the outbreak of the English civil war. Its principal aim is to assess the impact of the ecclesiastical policies of Charles I, which have been the subject of considerable debate between historians in recent years. The thesis argues that significant changes occurred in the local church during the 1630s. These were broadly in line with the policies of Archbishop William Laud, who sought to promote an institutional and sacramental style of worship, and to suppress the activity of Protestant nonconformists. In Warwickshire, these policies led to the promotion of ceremonial religion and the renovation and redecoration of parish churches. There was also an increase in the prosecution of Puritans in the church courts. However, the success of these policies was limited by various factors: the attitudes of the local bishops, the practical problems of enforcing discipline, and the resilience of the Puritan community. The thesis examines the impact of Laud's policies on the county as a whole, and on particular groups within the local church. It also presents case-studies of religion in the towns of Coventry and Stratford-upon-Avon. The thesis concludes that the ecclesiastical policies of the 1630s were largely counter-productive: they provoked the hostility of local Puritans, but failed to curb their activities. The experience of "Laudianism" also encouraged demands for thorough reform in the established church, which were translated into support for parliament at the beginning of the civil war.