therefore, declared that 'the most high and sacred order of kings' was 'of divine right,' and that it was therefore an offence against God to maintain 'any independent coactive power, either papal or popular,' and that 'for subjects to bear arms against their kings, offensive or defensive,' was, 'at the least, to resist the powers which are ordained of God,' and thereby to 'receive to themselves damnation.' Men not under the influence of Laud's ecclesiastical theories rightly judged that the price to be paid for the establishment of his system in the church was submission to absolutism in the state.
Ridicule is often a stronger weapon than indignation, and nothing did Laud's cause so much harm as the demand made in the canons that whole classes of men should swear never to give their 'consent to alter the government of this church by archbishops, deans, and archdeacons, &c.' People asked whether they were to swear perpetual adherence to a hierarchy the details of which the framers of the oath were unable or unwilling to specify. The etcetera oath, as it was called, turned the laugh against Laud.
Laud was now by common consent treated as the source of those evils in church and state of which Strafford was regarded as the most vigorous defender. Libellers assailed him and mobs called for his punishment. As the summer of 1640 passed away he saw the ground slipping from beneath his feet by the miscarriage of the king's efforts to provide an army capable of defying the Scots. Early in October he was obliged by Charles's orders to suspend the etcetera oath. On 22 Oct., when the treaty of Ripon disclosed the weakness of the crown, a mob broke into the high commission court and sacked it. Laud fearlessly called on the Star-chamber to punish the offenders, but the other members of the Star-chamber shrank from increasing the load of unpopularity which lay heavily upon them, and left the rioters to another court, in which they escaped scot-free. On 3 Nov. the Long parliament met. On 18 Dec. the commons impeached Laud of treason. He was placed in confinement, and on 24 Feb. 1641 articles of impeachment were voted against him, and on 1 March he was committed to the Tower. Here, on 11 May, he received a message from Strafford, who was to be executed on the morrow, asking for his prayers, and for his presence at the window before which he was to pass on his way to the scaffold. On the morning of the 12th Laud appeared at the window as he had been asked to do; but after raising his hands in accompaniment of the words of blessing he fainted, overcome with emotion at the sight before him.
Unlike Strafford, Laud was not regarded as immediately dangerous to parliament, and no attempt was for some time made to proceed against him. On 28 June 1641 he resigned the chancellorship of the university of Oxford. Parliament was too busy to meddle further with him, and it was not till 31 May 1643 that an order was issued to Prynne and others to seize on his letters and papers in the expectation of finding evidence against him, an opportunity which Prynne used to publish a garbled edition of the private diary of the archbishop.
It was not, however, till 19 Oct. 1643, soon after the acceptance by parliament of the solemn league and covenant, that the commons sent up further articles against Laud, and on the 23rd the House of Lords directed him to send in his answer. The actual trial did not begin till 12 March 1644. There was hardly even the semblance of judicial impartiality at the trial. The few members of the House of Lords who still remained at Westminster strolled in and out, without caring to obtain any connected idea of the evidence on either side. They had made up their minds that Laud had attempted to alter the foundations of church and state, and that was enough for them. Nevertheless the voluminous charges had to take their course, and it was not till 11 Oct. that Laud's counsel were heard on points of law. They urged, as Strafford's counsel had before urged on behalf of their client, that he had not committed treason under the statute of Edward III. It was an argument to which the lords were peculiarly sensitive, as they were more likely than persons of meaner rank to be accused of treason, and the enemies of the archbishop soon began to doubt whether the compliance of the lords was as assured as they had hoped. On 28 Oct. a petition for the execution of Laud and Wren was presented to the commons by a large number of Londoners, and on the 31st the commons, dropping the impeachment, resolved to proceed by an ordinance of attainder. This ordinance was sent up on 22 Nov., and as the lords delayed its passage the commons threatened the lords with the intervention of the mob. On 17 Dec. the lords gave way so far as to vote that the allegations of the ordinance were true in matter of fact, or, in other words, that Laud had endeavoured to subvert the fundamental laws, to alter religion as by law established, and to subvert the rights of parliament. They did not, however, proceed to pass the ordinance, and on 2 Jan. 1645 a conference was held, in which the commons