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Clarendon Code

The Clarendon Code

The Clarendon Code was the name given to a series of statutes or laws that were passed at the time of King Charles II reign in England. The Parliament of England passed these laws between 1661 and 1665 and their primary purpose was to strengthen the role of the Church of England as religious ruler of the country. These laws were also used indirectly to counteract the influence of Charles II who was a strong proponent for the reinstatement of Catholicism in the country. The Catholic religion was previously banished by an earlier monarch, Elizabeth I.

The Clarendon Code was named after its primary author, Edward Hyde who was the First Earl of Clarendon. Edward Hyde was the chief minister of Charles II during the passage of the said laws and ironically, he was initially staunchly opposed to the enactment of the laws which later on bore his name. It was only after these laws were passed that Edward Hyde supported them and worked for their enforcement.

The first of The Clarendon laws was the Corporation Act, which was passed in 1661 and stated among other things, that all elected officers of the incorporated municipalities of England be required to undergo the rites of Holy Communion in accordance with the laws of the Church of England. The Corporation Act further decreed that these elected leaders renounce the Presbyterian doctrines.

The Act of Uniformity was the second of the Clarendon laws to be passed and was instated in 1662. The essence of this law dictated that all active ministers in England and Wales subject themselves to the teachings written in the Common Book of Prayer and to use only this tome in their religious instruction. As a result of the passage of this somewhat rigid law, almost 2,000 active ministers resigned in protest rather than to conform to this law.

The Conventicle Act, which was passed in 1664, unequivocally prohibited the gathering of five or more people for religious or worship purposes unless they were of the Anglican fate.

Finally, the Five Mile Act, which was instated in 1665, forbade any of the ministers or religious leader who had refused to conform to the previous laws from entering the five mile zone surrounding of any city or corporate town in which he had previously served in his capacity as religious minister.

King Charles II who was becoming increasingly besieged with numerous critics from within the Parliament sought to silence these critics by taking measures to impede the enforcement of the Clarendon laws. By doing so, he hoped to sway the massive tide of dissension that was building up around him for several years and at the same time help alleviate the hardships that these laws caused for members of the Roman Catholic Church. King Charles II was of course known for openly supporting the Roman Catholic faith. As a means to these ends, Charles II passed a series of declarations of indulgence in 1662 and later on in 1672. Unfortunately these declarations were largely unsuccessful.

Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 26/02/2007

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