Godly Rule: Politics and Religion, 1603–60 by William Lamont

By William Lamont

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The task was particularly difficult because 'none of later yeares hath troden this path before me, whose footsteps might have directed me'. Against Papal claims, the Tudor apologists for the Church had necessarily to deal with supremacy, not jurisdiction. Carleton declared that he did not wish to diminish the royal powers (a point unceasingly echoed by all his colleagues), but the Tudor solution was a solution only of the question of supremacy, not of jurisdiction: Stephen Gardiner ... had found this massie crowne of jurisdiction upon the Pope's head, so he took it with gold, silver, copper, drosse and all: and set it upon the King's head.

There is an easy answer to this: his vanity, his pedantry, his desire to show off his learning. This is, in part, an explanation of his desire to make speeches; not of the form which they took. His writings and his speeches all reflect one central obsession: the desire to live like a Christian Prince. 4 A 'Christian Prince' was no cant phrase, idly chosen. In his Basilikon Doron (1599) he had argued the need for kings, above all others, to study Scripture closely to understand why 'godly Kings' should rule over 'the people of God'.

We have seen how psychologically dependent the English 48 GODL Y RULE Puritan was on the Christian Prince. This is true even of the Baptists. In the reign of James I, even those who went further than Nonconformists were prepared to do, and who urged separation from an impure Church, were affected by centripetal millenarianism. A Baptist, Leonard Busher, writing in favour of toleration in 1614, invoked the figure of Constantine: I read that Constantine the Emperor, called the great, wrote to the bishop of Rome, that he would not force and constrain any man to the faith, but only admonish, and commit the judgment to God.

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