This year, I have been running a series of posts on Percy Dearmer‘s 1912 volume, Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book, published by Mowbray.

These are the previous posts in the series:

Percy Dearmer on the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles of Religion

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer – part 1

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer – part 2

Percy Dearmer on the earliest church service manuscripts

Percy Dearmer’s interpretation of St Paul on prophecy and tongues

Percy Dearmer on elements of worship in the New Testament

Percy Dearmer: how several prayer books became one liturgical book

Percy Dearmer on Reformation, royalty and the Book of Common Prayer

Percy Dearmer: first Anglican Prayer Book ‘too fair-minded’ for a violent era

Percy Dearmer on the effect of Edward VI’s reign on the Church of England

Percy Dearmer on the Second Prayer Book’s Calvinistic bent

Percy Dearmer on the Third Prayer Book and Elizabeth I

Percy Dearmer blamed Calvinists for sucking the life-blood out of Anglicanism

Percy Dearmer on the Fourth Prayer Book and the King James Version of the Bible

Percy Dearmer wisely skipped over the turmoil that was going on not only in England but in Europe during King James I’s (James VI of Scotland) and Charles I’s respective reigns.

However, some historical notes need to be added to understand the civil and religious strife during this time. The two intermingled, causing much violence and uncertainty.

Before getting to Chapter 10 of Dearmer’s book, I shall try to sum this up as briefly as possible.

James I was Charles I’s father. When the latter was of marriageable age, the Continent was experiencing political struggles between Catholic and Protestant royal houses and emperors. Spain was a powerful player at this time. People today would find it amazing to know that Spain ruled the Low Countries, but the Spanish Netherlands did indeed exist between 1581 to 1714.

James hoped to broker peace with Spain by marrying Charles off to Princess Maria Anna. However, as the Wikipedia account of Charles I‘s life and death tells us (emphases mine):

Unfortunately for James, negotiation with Spain proved generally unpopular, both with the public and with James’s court.[19] The English Parliament was actively hostile towards Spain and Catholicism, and thus, when called by James in 1621, the members hoped for an enforcement of recusancy laws, a naval campaign against Spain, and a Protestant marriage for the Prince of Wales.[20]

The Spanish Court — including Princess Maria Anna — opposed the match, and it never took place.

However, Charles did marry a Catholic, France’s Princess Henrietta Maria, in 1625, which did not stand him in good stead in England. He had succeeded his father as king in 1624 and was crowned formally on February 2, 1626. Tensions ran high:

Many members of the Commons were opposed to the king’s marriage to a Roman Catholic, fearing that Charles would lift restrictions on Catholic recusants and undermine the official establishment of the reformed Church of England. Although he told Parliament that he would not relax religious restrictions, he promised to do exactly that in a secret marriage treaty with his brother-in-law Louis XIII of France.[41]

Things were not well in the royal household at that time:

Disputes over her jointure, appointments to her household, and the practice of her religion culminated in the king expelling the vast majority of her French attendants in August 1626.[58]

However, not long afterwards, diplomacy with Spain ensued and his marital problems were resolved. In fact, Charles and his Queen consort:

embodied an image of virtue and family life, and their court became a model of formality and morality.[73]

That said, the religious issue of Henrietta Maria’s Catholicism did not disappear.

Taxes were high so that Charles could finance war. He also granted monopolies, which companies paid for. One of them was for soap:

pejoratively referred to as “popish soap” because some of its backers were Catholics.[108]

Another religious issue was the determination of Calvinists — Puritans — to become the dominant religious force. Yet another — on the opposite side of the aisle — was the popularity of Arminianism, which posits that man can accept or reject salvation. In addition, Charles’s diplomacy with Spain was viewed with suspicion, as a way of bringing in Catholicism via the back door.

Charles was concerned about the direction the Reformation was taking in England. The action he took proved to be unpopular:

In 1633, Charles appointed William Laud as Archbishop of Canterbury.[118] Together, they began a series of anti-Calvinist reforms that attempted to ensure religious uniformity by restricting non-conformist preachers, insisting that the liturgy be celebrated as prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer, organising the internal architecture of English churches so as to emphasise the sacrament of the altar, and re-issuing King James’s Declaration of Sports, which permitted secular activities on the sabbath.[119] The Feoffees for Impropriations, an organisation that bought benefices and advowsons so that Puritans could be appointed to them, was dissolved.[120] To prosecute those who opposed his reforms, Laud used the two most powerful courts in the land, the Court of High Commission and the Court of Star Chamber.[121] The courts became feared for their censorship of opposing religious views, and became unpopular among the propertied classes for inflicting degrading punishments on gentlemen.[122]

Conflicts arose in Scotland and Ireland. Parliamentarians in England were also furious with Charles. They impeached Archbishop Laud in 1640 and accused the king of tyranny.

On January 3, 1642, Charles entered the House of Commons to have five members of Parliament arrested on charges of treason. (Word had reached the men, who escaped by boat.) When Charles made his demand, Parliament refused to comply.

It should be noted that the monarch never enters the House of Commons. That Charles did so sealed his fate.

The result was the English Civil War which lasted from 1642 to 1651. It was fought between the Roundheads (Parliamentarians) and Cavaliers (Royalists):

The overall outcome of the war was threefold: the trial and execution of Charles I (1649); the exile of his son, Charles II (1651); and the replacement of English monarchy with, at first, the Commonwealth of England (1649–1653) and then the Protectorate under the personal rules of Oliver Cromwell (1653–1658) and his son Richard (1658–1659). The monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship in England ended with the victors’ consolidating the established Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. Constitutionally, the wars established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without Parliament‘s consent, although the idea of Parliament as the ruling power of England was only legally established as part of the Glorious Revolution in 1688.[2]

The period between Charles I’s death and Charles II’s accession to the throne is called the Interregnum, which had strong religious overtones:

The Interregnum was a relatively short but important period in the history of the British Isles. It saw a number of political experiments without any stable form of government emerging, largely due to the wide diversity in religious and political groups that had been allowed to flourish after the regicide of Charles I.

The Puritan movement had evolved as a rejection of both real and perceived “Catholicisation” of the Church of England. When the Church of England was quickly disestablished by the Commonwealth Government, the question of what church to establish became a hotly debated subject. In the end, it was impossible to make all the political factions happy. During the Interregnum, Oliver Cromwell lost much of the support he had gained during the Civil War.

Puritans dominated the landscape:

After the Parliamentarian victory in the Civil War, the Puritan views of the majority of Parliament and its supporters began to be imposed on the rest of the country. The Puritans advocated an austere lifestyle and restricted what they saw as the excesses of the previous regime. Most prominently, holidays such as Christmas and Easter were suppressed.[2] Pastimes such as the theatre and gambling were also banned. However, some forms of art that were thought to be “virtuous”, such as opera, were encouraged. These changes are often credited to Oliver Cromwell, though they were introduced by the Commonwealth Parliament; and Cromwell, when he came to power, was a liberalising influence.[3]

Interestingly, independent Protestant churches flourished during this time:

The breakdown of religious uniformity and incomplete Presbyterian Settlement of 1646 enabled independent churches to flourish. The main sects (see also English Dissenters) were Baptists, who advocated adult rebaptism; Ranters, who claimed that sin did not exist for the “chosen ones”; and Fifth Monarchy Men, who opposed all “earthly” governments, believing they must prepare for God’s kingdom on earth by establishing a “government of saints”.

Despite greater toleration, extreme sects were opposed by the upper classes as they were seen as a threat to social order and property rights. Catholics were also excluded from the toleration applied to the other groups.

When Oliver Cromwell died in 1658, his son Richard succeeded him. However, Richard lacked authority and his rule was brief, 264 days:

The Protectorate came to an end in May 1659 when the Grandees recalled the Rump Parliament, which authorised a Committee of Safety to replace Richard’s Council of State. This ushered in a period of unstable government, which did not come to an end until February 1660 when General George Monck, the English military governor of Scotland, marched to London at the head of his troops, and oversaw the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II.

Understandably, no one in Britain wants a repeat of this, including the religious restrictions that took place during these years.

History lesson concluded, let us turn to Percy Dearmer.

He informs us that the Book of Common Prayer was abolished in 1645:

and its use made penal.

With Charles II’s accession to the throne, there was much rejoicing:

ENGLAND turned with shouts of joy from the rancour and violence of the Commonwealth, from the spiritual despotism of the Presbyterians and of the Independents who ousted them, and from the resulting distraction and impiety, to the Restoration of Church and King, and of free Parliamentary institutions …

However, the mood turned against non-Conformists, who were persecuted.

With the Church of England re-established, there was great hunger for the previously banned Prayer Book:

So great was the demand for Prayer Books that, before 1660 had reached its close, five editions of the old Book were printed.

But the Prayer Book had not been revised since 1604, and many agreed at least in this — that a new revision was needed.

This brings us to the theological background of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the subject of the next post in this series.

Advertisements