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Essex Through the Ages
Stuart Essex
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Stuart Religion

As in the preceding Tudor period, the religion of the country was dominated by that of the reigning monarch. James I was a protestant, and suffered from a Catholic plot on his life in the form of the gunpowder plot in 1605; his son, Charles I, favoured a High Anglican form of worship which involved many of what were thought of as "Catholic trappings", such as the rich decoration of churches.

Charlesí reforms of the church, to create a more High Anglican form of worship, were widely disapproved of by a population which was increasingly strongly protestant or Puritan, and his attempt to impose a Common Prayer book in 1638 led to conflict with the Scots.

During the Interregnum, the period between Charles Iís execution in 1649 and his sonís restoration as Charles II in 1660, the parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell, was largely Protestant if not Puritan, and many different methods were tried which would unite religion and politics in one body and bring a "spiritual governance" to the country. All of these failed, however, and Cromwell was made Lord Protector, a kind of pseudo-kingship, until his death.

Charles II, though encouraging of religious tolerance, was a protestant until his death, and converted to Catholicism only on his deathbed; his brother James II was a Catholic King and was unpopular for this reason. Parliament invited William of Orange and Mary, Jamesí daughter, to invade and take over the country. After James was deposed, Parliament introduced laws and acts which ensured that a Catholic monarch could never again take the throne.