The Clarendon Code
The Clarendon Code was a series of four legal statutes passed between 1661-1665 which effectively re-established the supremacy of the Anglican Church after the interlude of Cromwell's Commonwealth, and ended toleration for dissenting religions.
The Code was named for Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, who was Charles II's Lord Chancellor. Clarendon enforced the laws despite his personal opposition to many of the provisions of the Code.
Corporation Act (1661)
This first of the four statutes which made up the Clarendon Code required all municipal officials to take Anglican communion, formally reject the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. The effect of this act was to exclude Nonconformists from public office.
Act of Uniformity (1662)
This second statute made use of the Book of Common Prayer compulsory in religious service. Upwards of 2000 clergy refused to comply with this act, and were forced to resign their livings.
Coventicle Act (1664)
This act forbade coventicles (a meeting for unauthorized worship) of more than 5 people who were not members of the same household. The purpose was to prevent dissenting religious groups from meeting.
Five-Mile Act (1665)
This final act of the Clarendon Code was aimed at Nonconformist ministers, who were forbidden from coming within 5 miles of incorporated towns or the place of their former livings. They were also forbidden to teach in schools. This act was not rescinded until 1812.
Effect of the Code
The Clarendon Code effectively ended any possibility of the Anglican Church and Nonconformists coming together under one religious and social banner. The religions of Britain were deeply polarized, and religious intolerance would be an ever-present feature of British life for at least the next century.
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