James I and Religion


James I and Religion


  • Elizabeth's 'via media' had been overwhelmingly accepted
  • Hampden Court Conference of 1604, James won over some of the moderate Puritans with his promise of a translated bible (1611) and an explanation of the Thirty-Nine Articles, he also appointed the more radical Bancroft as Archbishop
  • Reformed the High Court of Commission
  • Issued new canons and laws for the church in 1604
  • 1604-25 only two Puritan ministers lost their jobs for non-conformity
  • Allowed prophesying and preaching at court
  • Kept a balance in his appointment of Bishops and their influence in government increased
  • After Bancroft, Abbot was appointed, he was a Calvinist and did not was to discipline Puritans
  • Put forward over 70 bills in his first two parliaments aimed at pluralism
  • By 1621 James was more willing to accept Puritan bills for reform
  • Arminians  (Andrewes and Neile) were members of the Privy Council- he also showed he trusted them by taking them to Scotland in 1617
  • Kept a balance of Arminians Bishops and did not allow himself to be pressured by Charles and Buckingham
  • Refused to promote Laud to a major post despite Buckingham's pleadings (got the minor bishopric of St Davids in Wales
  • Tried to keep a balance even within his own family by marrying Elizabeth to the Protestant Frederick and Charles to the Catholic Infanta (failed) and then Henrietta Maria
  • "It were a pity to lose so good a kingdom, for not tolerating a Mass in a corner"- James on Catholics
  • James didn't want to persecute Catholics that conformed, they were only 1% of the population
  • James was lenient in enforcing laws against Catholics, only 25 were executed during his reign and the Catholic population even increased


  • Had been years of religious confusion due to the differing religious views of the monarchs from Henry VIII
  • Church had a lack of resources
  • Growing Puritan minority, believed in predestination, James saw them as radical troublemakers
  • Millenary Petition signed by 1000 Puritan ministers questioned James' authority
  • James was concerned about the Puritans' desire for no bishops would lead to an attack on his authority (No Bishops, no King)
  • James was hostile to Puritans at the 1604 Hampden Court Conference 'I will harry them out of the land'
  • Some (1% of ministers) went abroad to the United Provinces or America
  • Book of Sport in 1618 upset the Puritans and Abbott
  • Fined recusants 5d a week
  • Opposition about his pro-Spanish foreign policy and especially the Spanish Match
  • Montagu's 'A New Gag for an Old Goose' led to anarchy with the Puritans
  • Distrust over Anne's conversion to Catholicism in the 1590s
  • Fears of popish plots left over from Mary as well as event in Europe
  • James saw Jesuits as terrorists
  • Faced three Catholic plots, the Bye Plot in 1603 over recusant fines, the Main Plot designed to kill Henry and James
  • In 1605 James enforced recusant laws more, 5560 people were convicted, this lead to the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, and attempt to blow up James and parliament, the conspirators were all captured and killed
  • After this parliament passed laws forbidding Catholics to be lawyers or doctors, could have their homes searched and could not travel without permission, also suggested 2/3 of their property be confiscated
  • Oath of Alligence in 1606, some Catholics refused to take it


Even though the 30 Years War was raging in Europe, James managed to keep religious stability in England, there was some oppositions but it was seen as a long period of peaceHe tried not to promote one group above the other- had a policy of unity not uniformity


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