Religious Policy, 1660-67

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  • Religious Policy 1660-67
    • Religious Toleration
      • Charles II was very lax and court life didn't uphold much Christian teaching
        • The king took great personal interest in scientific experiments
        • Religion was still important in politics
          • Work on the origins of Civil War has shown that for many people religious differences were the most important factor in choosing sides
      • In 1660 the strength of the Church of England was uncertain
        • Many had been opposed to Archbishop Laud's church and many fought against it in the Civil War
      • In the Declaration of Breda in April 1660 the king had promised 'liberty to tender consciences'
        • Laud had alienated many by his narrow-based church in the 1630s
          • Many former members of the church, who found themselves excluded, established their own religious sects
            • To win back former members Charles would have to establish a broad-based church in order to not alienate anyone
      • The Worcester House Declaration, October 1660
        • There was a large number of Presbyterians elected into the Convention parliament. These were the sort of Protestants that Laud had driven out and could potentially be opposition to the king
          • A full meeting between Presbyterian and Anglican clergy resulted in the Worcester House Declaration
        • It offered large concessions to moderate Presbyterians both on the function of bishops and on the nature of Prayer Book
          • The power of bishops would be balanced with Presbyterian input
        • By the end of the year the Church was largely Anglican
          • Bishops were being appointed, cathedral chapters were being revived and the Elizabethan Prayer Book was being used again
            • It had been relatively unsuccessful
        • The Declaration was only temporary
          • Charles' aim had been to hold out hope to as many people as possible, certainly until he was secure on the throne
            • A few concessions might have been sufficient to quell any doubts, but these were only temporary as Charles disliked Presbyterians, especially when his alliance with the Scottish Presbyterians failed
    • The Strength of Anglicanism
      • The disbanding of the army and the dissolution of the Convention removed much of the pressure on Charles II for compromise
        • The election of the Cavalier Parliament ended any hope for a broad based church - it saw the return of a large number of royalists which were also strong supporters of the Anglican Church
      • The parliamentary Anglicans found a more than reliable and able ally for their approach in Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury (1663-7)
        • He developed a political alliance with the gentry and also ensured restoration of church government and adoption of a new prayer book
          • Sheldon even gave up the clergy's right to tax themselves and agreed that in the future they would be subject to parliamentary taxation
            • This ensured that if parliament was trying to deny the king supply he would be unable to turn to the bishops for financial assisstance
              • This made him appear an ally against the royal prerogative
      • The Clarendon Code and the Quaker Act
        • 1. The Corporation Act, June 1661
          • This established a commission to take oaths from all town officials
            • In the oath they had to renounce (reject) Presbyterianism and accept the Anglican sacrament - this gave Anglicans political domination in local government
        • The Quaker Act, January 1662
          • Meetings between Quakers were banned and instead they had to swear an oath of allegiance to the king
            • Quakers could be fined, imprisoned or transported to a colony if they refused to swear the oath
        • 2. The Act of Uniformity, May 1662
          • It marked the formal end of attempts at conciliation between Anglicans and Presbyterians
            • It required all clergymen to declare their assent to everything in the Prayer Book, which in future would be used for all services
              • The clergy had to renounce the Solemn League and Covenant which had established Presbyterianism
          • This was the most important piece of legislation in re-establishing the Anglican Church
        • 3. The Conventicle Act, April 1664
          • It placed severe restrictions on dissenting activity. It banned any group of people from meeting together for a religious service unless it was authorised by the Anglican Church
            • Penalties included fines and transportation
          • The Act was targeting Nonconformists but lapsed in 1668
            • A new one was later introduced
        • 4. The Five Mile Act, October 1665
          • This Act also placed severe restrictions on dissenting activity
            • It banned ministers who had lost their positions in the Anglican Church for their refusal to accept the Act of Uniformity from residing within five miles of their former living
      • By 1680 Anglicanism was flourishing because of an alliance with the gentry
        • The gentry were placed at the head of local community
      • The Anglican Church appealed to many ordinary Englishmen because of its order and discipline. Others found an attachment to the church's doctrine that was deep and long lasting

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