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William Laud (1573-1645)

William Laud, Archbishop of CanterburyThe history of William Laud is in a manner the history both of church and state in England for some twenty or more most memorable years. If it were to be written with a copiousness corresponding to the quantity of the materials, volumes on volumes might be filled with it. Indeed it does actually stand recorded in several folios, besides State Trials and Parliamentary History, and Strafford Letters and other collections of State Papers, in which he fills much space. There is the history of his 'Life and Death' in one folio volume by Dr. Peter Heylin and that of his 'Troubles and Trial' in another, considerably larger, edited from his own papers by the learned Henry Wharton. We have his own Diary besides many of his letters and a mass of other authentic documents. The facts of the greater part of his history therefore are before us in extraordinary distinctness. Whatever we may think of him, there he is, the man and his acts, still, if we choose, almost as plainly to be seen by us as by his contemporaries. Some things respecting him, indeed, we know better than they did. His life was more than most lives passed in the light, and few have had the light so unsparingly let in upon them as he has had even in his deepest privacies. We have his written words intended only for the eye of the most intimate friendship or for no eye but his own. We ought not to forget, in judging him, this trying ordeal through which it has been his fate to be made to pass.

Part 2: Family Background

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