Early Stuart Text Discussion

Respond to the following sets of questions (each with a 8 sentence, minimum, answer) below:

-Who were the authors of these texts (make reasoned speculations)? What kind of people were they (status, identity, etc.)? When were these texts written? What kind of texts are they (e.g. diary? pamphlet? law code? secondary scholarly source?)? What are each of these texts “doing” (What are these texts describing? What are these texts arguing? Why would the author write these texts?)?

-How did the Stuart monarchy present itself? Was this a novelty or continuity with the Tudor state? And what issues did critics take with particular form of royalty? (Hint: Read Vox Populi carefully, and ask yourself how an English preacher was able to listen in on a secret meeting of Spanish ambassadors?)

-What sort of reforms was Laud implementing? How new were they? Why would puritans be especially angry with them?

8 thoughts on “Early Stuart Text Discussion

  1. Concerning the first text, the author is a secondary source, most likely scholarly, as it is written in an informative way regarding James I and his ideal of the ‘Divine Right of Kings’. This author is most likely a scholar or professor in a significantly more modern setting than of the age of the Early Stuarts, with a retrospective and analytical look at this concept, rather than an argumentative piece on why what he is writing is true, which would have been the case in the times of James. This text argues the dichotomy of thought between what this ideal of the divine right of Kings, and the willingness of Catholics to commit regicide in order to ‘fulfill God’s laws’. It is an interesting point that they make. It draws James as a, nonetheless ruthless to Catholics, but experienced and smart Protestant ruler. Both James and the Catholics believed in the Divine Right of Kings, however if god were to choose the King, then why would the Gunpowder Plot have transpired? Was it just for the ending of Catholic persecution or did the Divine Right of Kings only apply to those who practiced the same religion as them? This text was mainly focused on the issues of what it meant to have a King who was in disagreement on the most important part of life at the time. The source ends with an idea of what a King was to his people, a caring lawmaker. Although he may not agree with a portion of his subjects, he can not just cut the leg off of his own body as he is the head of his Kingdom. It comes to the conclusion that a King must make just laws to fit the whole body of the Kingdom, as the body can not function properly with a large chunk of it cut off.
    With the second text, it seems to be a primary source, bringing news to Stuart era England of what is happening in the Catholic Spanish state. The author is an English priest and ambassador who made a trip to Spain along with other English ambassadors. This text is seemingly reconciliation with Spain, with both Nations concerned for the whole of Christendom rather than the ideals of their own sect of Christianity. This presents the Stuarts as better diplomats than their predecessors in the Tudor dynasty. Within the time of the Tudor dynasty after the reign of Henry VIII, Spain and Catholicism was a constant threat bubbling to head with the Spanish Armada sailing to British shores. This seems like an attempt by the Stuarts to draw themselves in dichotomy to the Tudors and draw their reign in a light of peace rather than the constant threat of violence under the Tudors.
    Finally, with the third text, it comes from a primary source of the Archbishop in Early Stuart England, suggesting possible reforms to the Anglican Church. This text was written by the Spiritual head of the Anglican Church in the early days of the Stuart dynasty, and will set the tone for the Church reforms of the entire dynasty. Archbishop Laud was in a way doubling down on the current form of the Anglican Church. He was consistently reprimanding people who went against the current form of the Anglican Church. These reforms were nothing new, only a way to return to the way of the Anglican Church in its early days, similarly to the Henrician Church reforms. It is easy to see why Purtian’s would be mad at these reforms, as they were consistently pushing for further reforms to the ideals and traditions of the Anglican Church itself. Therefore, with someone completely deciding to return to the ways of old and stick to the roots of the Anglican Church, it can be easily seen why those who pursued further liberal Church reform would have a negative reaction to conservative Church reform.

  2. The first text, “Trew Law of Free Monarchies”, was written by James VI and I in 1598 in anticipation of his accession to the throne of England. In this essay, James I reaffirms the divine right of kings and discusses the role of a king and what should happen if the monarch violates their responsibility to protect the people. This essay serves to foreshadow how James would come to run his kingdom and announces that while on the throne, he would be the one in control. To enhance his argument, James uses a metaphor by comparing the king to a father, and the people to his children. The second text, “Vox Populi, or News from Spain”, is an account of a meeting between Spanish ambassadors, as recorded by Thomas Scott in 1620. Thomas Scott, who was a radical Puritan preacher, intended to use this account to undermine James’ attempt at peace with Spain and therefore held a similar agenda to that of Parliament, who sought war with Spain. Finally, “Archbishop Laud’s Visitation of Leicestershire, 1634”, is a collection of violations that Laud encountered while performing his visitations in local churches. Instead of having an explicit political cause, this was most likely written for record-keeping, although it does reveal how Laud sought to run the Church of England and how he kept the peace.

    In comparison to the Tudor monarchs, the early Stuart kings felt a need to prove that they had power over Parliament, and not the other way around. James I exhibits this behavior frequently in his affirmations of the idea of the Divine Right of Kings. James also had an image problem. While his successor Charles I was a regal and seemingly virtuous public figure, James VI was seen as effeminate, which did not help his bid for garnering respect and authority. In the wake of uprisings such as the Gunpowder Plot, James I felt threatened and decided that he had a responsibility to remind the country that he was the supreme law of the land. This contrasts the behavior of Tudor monarchs such as Elizabeth I, who used intrigue to maneuver through Parliament and bend it to her will. The conflict between James I and Parliament is reaffirmed in Thomas Scott’s perhaps unreliable account of a meeting of Spanish ambassadors. Parliament as a whole was largely against James’ desire to create peace between them and Spain and this manifested in Parliament’s rejection of the Spanish Match, or the marriage between Charles I and Maria Anna of Spain. Not only did Parliament oppose the Spanish Match to prevent peace, but Puritan factions were also wary of introducing Catholic influence to the country. In all, the division between the monarch and Parliament would become exaggerated during the reign of Charles I and would climax in his execution and the Commonwealth period that followed.

    While King Charles I would fight Parliament politically to consolidate his power, Archbishop William Laud would come to redefine the Anglican Church during his rule. The chief factor that made Laud an unpopular figure to most members of the Church of England was that he was an Arminian. Arminianism was a new take on English Protestantism, and to Puritans, it smelled of Popery. While radical Puritans sought to further reform the Anglican Church by stripping down churches and emphasizing scripture, Arminians emphasized the holiness of the preachers and sought to restore the “beauty” that characterized the early Anglican church. Puritans felt threatened by this notion, as it was essentially the antithesis of their goals. However, Charles I was put off by the presbyterian nature of Puritanism, and put trust in someone who would maintain a more episcopal Anglican Church. We can see evidence of Laud’s influence in “Archbishop Laud’s Visitation of Leicestershire, 1634”. One prominent example is the reorienting of communion tables to reflect the Catholic position. Additionally, this text features multiple references to priests being punished for refusing to wear vestments, another more ritualistic feature of Arminianism. Overall, Puritans would see the tenure of Archbishop Laud as yet another period of “going backward”, instead of moving further away from Catholicism.

  3. Text one, “Trew Law of Free Monarchies,” was written by James I of England. Although when he came to power in England he had already been ruling Scotland for 35 years. However he wrote this in 1598, five years before he was crowned King of England. Text one is a treatise on James VI’s thoughts on divine right and the right of Kings. He essentially stating his beliefs that A king is chosen by god and therefore the people have no choice but to respect his rule regardless if he is a good king or not. It’s believed he probably wrote this out of fear considering the multiple plots against Elizabeth, his mother being deposed, and a series of assassinated French Kings. Text two, “Vox Populi, or News From Spain” is a pamphlet that was written in 1620, 17 years into King James I rule of England by a Protestant. The author goes on to explain why a Spanish diplomatic marriage would be disastrous. Finally the third text, “Archbishop Laud’s Visitation of Leicestershire, 1634,” was written in 1634 well into the rule of James I by an Archbishop. Text three is an account of the violations of religious law in Leicestershire. This text exemplifies the crowns attempt at religious unity through showing the increased enforcement of unifying laws.
    The Stuart monarchy presented itself as being chosen by God to lead. James I opened stated how he was personally chosen by God to rule and irregardless of his effectiveness as a ruler he was destined to be on the throne. He even went as far as to claim that bad rulers are God’s punishment to an immoral country and subjects have no right to depose the ruler and shorten their divine time-out. While this is a continuity from the Tudors, they were never so bold to openly state such an idea rather than alluding to it. Critics disliked the de-emphasis this idea put on Parliament and the people’s role in government.
    Laud was implementing reforms that reinforced a more Catholic version of protestantism. He was punishing actions such as carrying out a service inadequate dress, clandestine marriage, being absent from prayer on holy days, and improper positioning of the communion table. They weren’t especially new as while Elizabeth created a clearly Protestant nation she allowed for many Catholic loopholes like creating a New Common Book of Prayers that allowed for the Catholic belief in transustition. Also, while she did allow clergy marriage she was known for privately condemning the practice. Puritans would be especially angry with these reforms because they are essentially Protestant extremist. Anything remotely Catholic in nature they disagree with. Thus these reforms go against everything they believe in.

  4. The first text, “Trew Law of Free Monarchies”, was most likely written by James VI and I of England as a guide for “being a king” during the time. In this text, James brings up the fact of divine right again and how the office of the king should be passed down from man to man that God has chosen. James also talks about absolute power for the king and how they should be in control. Even with absolute power, James knew that he still needed the support of the people to rule. James compares ruling his people to a head and body, saying that the head needs to control the body for the entire unit to work as a whole. James also talks about how if people are displeased with their current rule, there is nothing they can do about it. He claims that sometimes God does not send quality rulers and these rulers must be endured by the people. The only thing James didn’t say was who would be the judge of these things, because he doesn’t know how these would be decided.

    The Second Text, “Vox Populi, or News from Spain,” was written by Thomas Scott in 1620. This text talks about conquest of the new world, like taking over Spain and discovering new lands. This also mentions traveling to the Indies and the West Indies to gain access to their new natural resources and other materials that could help out the English. The Stuart Monarchy once again illustrates the idea of divine right, that rulers are chosen by God to rule over their people. During his rule, James also established that he has authority over parliament, making himself the absolute leader. It also did not matter how bad of a ruler James was anyways because divine right claims that God sometimes sends burdens as Kings down that the people must endure through. This ideology differed from that of the Tudor state since absolute power in England is emphasized by King James I, while this is not the case with Queen Elizabeth I. Absolute monarchs, like James, try to suppress parliaments power, which Elizabeth did not do. Elizabeth was seen as a Queen of the people, and was one of the most successful rulers of England.

    The Third Text, “Archbishop Laud’s Visitation of Leicestershire, 1634”, is a list of violations that Laud had discovered inside the church’s. Laud conducted visits on the church to “detect irregularities and promote religious conformity.” Laud most likely wrote this list for records or wanted to make a list of people to punish for practicing their religion incorrectly. Laud was implementing reforms that led to a stricter way of practicing Protestantism, like punishments for missing prayer or setting up a table incorrectly. These reforms were not that new, since England had already seen reforms like this happening during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Since most of the people had known the rules from the past, this would not be a huge deal. However, Puritans were enraged by this due to the fact that more and more reforms were being passed that were against their ideology. Puritans got pushed farther and farther away, and they were frustrated that they did not have an equal say.

  5. The Stuart family originated in Scotland and so when they came to power in England their experiences and policies differed from the English tradition. James I of England, wrote “Trew Law of Free Monarchies” in 1598, to explain his thoughts on the monarchy and its relationship with the people and God. James views the king as a father to his people and claims that God sent him to rule upon the earth in his name. “Vox Populi,” or “News of Spain” was an account of a Spanish meeting by an English Puritan preacher in 1620. The text describes the Stuarts’ attempt to be more peaceful with the Spanish than their predecessors. The Puritan preacher who wrote this is attempting to use this account to stop the English from dealing with the Spanish, who he views to be evil. The third text, “Archbishop Laud’s Visit to Leicestershire,” describes Laud’s experiences in dealing with reforming the Church of England. The document shows all the things that Laud believes to be wrong in the Church and Laud hopes to stop these wrongs and purify the Church of England.
    When James took power in England a dynastic shift occurred from the Tudors to the Stuarts. The Stuarts continued with reforming the religion of England, bringing many of their own ideas about Christianity into the Church. The one major difference between the Stuart leaders and the Tudors was their relationship with Parliament, especially James I. We see in James’ piece “Trew Law of Free Monarchies” that he is insecure about his position in the world as king and he writes the piece to show the English people how he will rule when he takes their throne. James focuses on exerting his divine right power and not allowing Parliament to push him around as they did to the Tudors, in his opinion. “Vox Populi” shows the Puritan English people’s distrust in the Stuarts and their relationship with Spain. The Puritans believe that Catholicism is the enemy and Spain is the European symbol for Catholicism. When James takes the throne he aims to make peace with the Spanish, something the Tudors never showed any interest in.
    Archbishop Laud reformed the Church of England in his own style as Archbishop. He worked mainly under James’ son Charles and was trusted by Charles due to Charles’ mistrust of the Puritans and Presbyterians. Laudian reform focused on returning the Church to its former glory, while doctrinally remaining separate from the Catholic Church. Laud’s reforms were not new but they added a Catholic feel to Anglicanism that the Puritans did not support. For example, Laud moved the communion table out of the center of the Church, a symbol that the Puritans viewed as Catholic. He also punished priests for not wearing specific vestments, which was also not popular during the Tudor rule. Laud’s aesthetic reform to the Church made the Church look like it was going back towards Catholicism and so he was disliked by the Puritans in England, even though he had the full support of Charles.

  6. The author of the first text was James VI and I of England with the intent of describing his understanding of what it meant to rule over the people of Britain. The text was written in 1598 and is essentially describing the divine right that he has over the people. He states “The kings were makers of the laws, not the laws of the kings”. The text that this article is contained in provides background stating that he most likely feared the plots and assisnation attempts for the previous monarchs. The second text title “Vox Populi, or News from Spain” was written in 1620 and published by Thomas Scott. This pamphlet describes the relationships between Stuart and the Spanish and was a fabricated story that somehow became interpreted as an accurate account of dealings with the Spanish. The third text titled “Archbishop Laud’s Visit to Leicestershire” is an account of Laud’s dealings regarding the church of England. The majority of this text is for describing the actions of priests and those who committed wrongdoings within the church environment. Dealings within the text had much to do with the placement of the communion table and gestures and positions of celebrants. Clearly a point of friction between the protestant reformation and old dealings of the Catholic Church.

    The Stuart monarchy clearly presented itself as in need of controlling the people of Britain. This was somewhat a novelty in the sense that prior to ruling over England James ruled over Scotland for 35 years.The concept of the law in Scotland was in contrast to the way that laws within England worked and almost because of this lack of law and a legal system James’s rule in Scotland meant that he didn’t need to be popular which was essentially in great opposition to those who ruled before him in England. This lack of need to be popular within Scotland is largely to blame for the actions and insecurity of the crown under King James. The text vox populi appears to be a fabrication of this secret meeting of Spanish ambassadors. It is most likely not possible for this individual to overhear or gain access to this meeting. Furthermore, the author of this pamphlet Thomas Scott who was a radical Protestant essentially had the idea that

    The reforms that Laud was implementing appeared to be very much in line with the religious views of Catholics. In many ways the actions that he would undertake while Archbishop would make it appear as if the reformation was going backward. Puritans would be especially angry with Laud for his actions are essentially trying to bring back old Catholicism within the church in regards to the vestments and placing of certain communion table and the positions of the celebrants. Furthermore, he finds fault with members of the church in which some cases these individuals are excommunicated for wrongdoings that puritans would most likely not agree within a result of punishment. The actions of Laud show that his actions were very much unpopular within the church which most likely leads to his execution in 1645.

  7. The first document, “Trew Law of Free Monarchies” is a primary source document written in 1598 by James I. He reaffirmed the idea that the king was chosen from God and oversaw looking over his/her respective kingdom. Additionally, he strengthened his argument by writing that God put kings on earth to care for their subjects as a father would a child. He also refutes the argument that subjects have the right to rebel since a bad king is a punishment from God and not something that is supposed to be changed. Throughout James letter, it is clear he is worried about being overthrown and seeking to cement his power as king by convincing his populace that it is impossible to overthrow a king rightfully. The second text “Vox Populi, or News from Spain” was written by Thomas Scott in 1620. Scott is an Englishman who is a diplomat working in Spain. The text talks about the conquest of the new world and other areas by the Spanish. The text is conciliatory as it seems that James want to have a better relationship with the Spanish. In years past This was never afforded to the Spanish but both he and the Spanish see the draw in spreading their shared values of Christendom. His predecessors, the Tudors, were against any compromise with the Spanish but he feels that because of the reasons above it is now necessary to cooperate with the Spanish. The third text, “Archbishops Laud’s visitation to Leicestershire” is an account of the Archbishop critiquing certain elements of the Church. Written by Laud, he emphasizes a more elaborate Church setting overall while still maintaining the Puritan tradition. For example, he wanted a more elaborate service and the priests to wear vestments they do not normally wear. Although Laud’s visits were in good faith, many people viewed his critiques as a desire to return the Catholic Church. His reforms were not new and had started under Elizabeth, but they were roundly disliked. Puritans supported a church system dissimilar to the Catholic Church and Laud is attempting to bring back elements from that time.

  8. The first text Trew Law of Free Monarchies was written by King James l of England in 1598. In this document, James states that he believes the monarch has the power to rule through the concept of Divine Right, which states that the king’s right to rule and power comes directly from God. He discusses what should happen if the King does not correctly do his job and the consequences as a result of threatening the protection of his people. The King is like the head and the people are the body. The body has a right to break away from the head if it does not function properly with the rest of the body. James’s writing provides a taste on how he intends to run his kingdom and sets his guidelines he wishes for future monarchs to follow. The second source, Vox Populi, or News From Spain, is written by Thomas Scott and it is a recollection of a diplomacy meeting between Spanish ambassadors. This diplomatic move was an attempt by the Stuart family to be more peaceful with the Spanish than any other ruling English family had been in the past. As a radical Puritan, it is only natural that Thomas Scott would have disapproved of this increased contact with Spain due to the fact that the Spanish were a strongly Catholic country. Coming from the perspective of a hardcore reformer, Scott would have definitely disagreed with England’s diplomatic efforts to get along wihh the Spanish. Thirdly, Archbishop Laud’s Visitation of Leicestershire was written by William Laud in 1634 and addresses what Laud considers to be issues that he observed during his experiences in travelling to the local churches. This text suggests that Laud favored conformism due to the fact that he desired to keep harmony within the church of England and had a very set idea of the way he believed the Church of England should be run.

    In contrast with the Tudor dynasty, the Stuart reign differed partially. This was due to the fact that Protestantism was completely welcomed and celebrated throughout the Stuart reign, with little question of exactly how much of the Catholic doctrine should be incorporated into the Church of England. Furthermore, this was a time where the monarch attempted to take back the power over Parliament. For example, King James reaffirmed his strong belief in the idea of Divine Right, where he held more power than the government and his right to rule came directly from the command of God. Based on the second text, the Stuart’s possessed better diplomacy skills than the Tudors, especially when it came to dealing with the Spanish. England has always had conflict with the Spanish ever since the Protestant Reformation took off due to the fact that English was predominantly Protestant and Spain was a very Catholic country. The Gunpowder Plot only complicated things between the two countries when Robert Catesby, an English Catholic, planted gunpowder in a royal basement in hopes of killing James and his advisors because he was so against the Protestant regime. It is reasonable to consider the fact that a Catholic plot to kill a Protestant king could have been possibly backed by the Spanish, but the Stuart dynasty maintained peace with the Spanish for the most part due to good diplomacy skills.

    William Laud was the archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England. Many of the English subjects agreed with what Laud preached, which was the concept of conformity. He believed that the Church of England was running pretty smoothly currently and wished little reform upon it. However, Laud’s doctrines did not sit well with the Puritans of England who wished for constant continued reform within the Church of England. Laud was hated by the Puritans because he denied Purtian rights and attempted to impose a form of the Book of Common Prayer on the Scots. Laud preached the rejection of predestination upheld by the previously dominant Calvinism in favour of free will, and hence the possibility of salvation for all men. The Puritans wished to have Laud executed such that they believed some of his doctrines were too consistent with the Catholic Church. Laud was impeached by the British Parliament in 1641, then executed in 1645.

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