William Laud (1573-1645) was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633. He was a temperamental character who believed in establishing a uniform church in England in Wales where the decision making process rested largely in his hands. This autocratic governance was possible during the reign of Charles I before the country was divided by civil war.
Laud was arrested in 1640 as his Laudian reforms were at odds with the Puritans of the increasingly influential Parliamentarians. The Parliamentarians were also keen to reduce the independence that the church had from the state, which Laud was an advocate of, this was eventually realised by the removal of ecclesiastical judges and the abolition of the High Commission. Laud’s trial led to his execution in 1645 as he was considered guilty of running a state within a state.
This medal was struck in 1680 to commemorate Laud at a time when many of the ecclesiastical reforms of the Commonwealth had been reversed; he was seen as someone who had suffered in the cause of the Church and of royalty. The unique edge inscription on this example is an extract from Andrew Marvell’s poem ‘The Loyal Scot’. The poem was written in 1669 and included numerous scurrilous attacks on the church and bishops in particular. Despite the good intentions of the original medal the adaption of the edge is a reminder of the sentiment that was expressed towards Laud by many in his lifetime.