William Laud vs. Kamehameha

Ah, a battle between an Archbishop of Canterbury and a king. That seems rather familiar. But the real question is, which island will emerge victorious in this matchup between William Laud and Kamehameha? England or Hawaii? Whoever it is, the winner will advance to face David Oakerhater in the next round.

Yesterday's battle between Thecla and John Keble led to some respectfully passionate debate in the comment section. In fact, we set a record for most comments in a first round pairing with over 300. Impressive! In the end, Thecla prevailed 58% to 42% meaning we'll be hearing more about those ravenous seals in the Saintly Sixteen when she squares off against Brendan the Navigator.

NPG 171; William Laud after Sir Anthony Van DyckWilliam Laud

William Laud was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633–1640 and remains among the most controversial figures in the history of Anglicanism. Heralded by many as a martyr and condemned by others as a tyrant and bigot, Laud was among the most visible proponents of a uniquely English brand of anti-Calvinism in the seventeenth-century Church. As such, he was in near constant conflict with English Puritans of his day.

Even before his elevation to the See of Canterbury, Laud was somewhat of a liturgical and ecclesiastical innovator. During his term as dean of Gloucester, he caused great consternation (as so many priests throughout the ages have) by moving furniture. Laud moved the altar table in Gloucester to the east wall — the location typical of most altars before the Reformation. This move brought upon him the ire of his bishop and local Puritans, suspicious of a reintroduction of a Roman Catholic custom.

Laud’s movement of the altar was a liturgical manifestation of his theological persuasion that the Church of England followed in unbroken succession from the pre-Reformation Roman Catholic Church in England, although under the supreme governance of the king and the oversight of bishops. This belief led him to stridently impose liturgical uniformity throughout the church, seeking that all things be done “decently and in good order” in the “beauty of holiness.” His increased emphasis on the celebration of the sacraments was often viewed as contrary to Reformation doctrines of salvation through faith alone. An abortive attempt to impose The Book of Common Prayer on Scotland in 1637 marked the apex of his time as Archbishop of Canterbur y. By 1638 Scottish leaders pledged to resist the new prayer book and uphold Puritan practice by force, and by the end of the year, no bishops remained in Scotland.

Laud was sincere in his beliefs but dangerously out of touch with common persuasions in England of his time. His fierce defense of the Church’s privileges and prerogatives came at the same time as a growing sentiment against the divine right of kings, and his strident rule as Archbishop of Canterbury in favor of liturgical uniformity won him few friends. By 1641 he was impeached and carried away to theTower of London.

He was sentenced to death in 1645. At his execution, he said, “The Lord receive my soul, and have mercy upon me, and bless this kingdom with peace and charity, that there may not be this effusion of Christian blood amongst them.”

Collect for William Laud

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like your servant William Laud, we may live in your fear, die in your favor, and rest in your peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-David Sibley


On January 11, 1855 Hawaii crowned a new, young monarch — King Kamehameha IV.

With his wife Queen Emma, Kamehameha set forth to transform the Hawaiian islands by offering his people a new way, new healthcare methods, and a new faith — Christianity.

Kamehameha was born on February 9, 1834. As a young man, he toured the United States, Central America, and Europe, and he discovered Christianity — and Anglicanism in particular. He was taken with the liturgy and core beliefs of Anglicanism. In 1860 Kamehameha and Emma petitioned the Church of England to send Anglican missionaries to Hawaii. Three priests arrived on October 11, 1862. Kamehameha initiated one of his greatest contributions to his people — translating The Book of Common Prayer into the native language. He led his people as a practicing, dedicated Anglican and began a building campaign for a cathedral and a school.

A devastating smallpox epidemic in the Islands prompted Kamehameha and Emma to go into the communities and witness firsthand the devastation from leprosy, influenza, and other foreign diseases that were spreading through the native population. They embarked on a fundraising campaign to build a new hospital, and even today, their commitment to the health of their people is evident. Queen’s Hospital is named for Emma.

Kamehameha’s death on November 30, 1863, didn’t stop the work and ministry that was underway. Emma continued her husband’s dedication and charity by establishing more schools and churches and by tending to the sick and poor.

Although Kamehameha died a young man, the impacts of his Christian ideals and dedicated work on Hawaii are still witnessed today. Kamehameha and Emma are honored throughout Hawaii and are depicted in stained glass windows at St. Andrew’s, the church they helped found.

His feast day is celebrated in conjunction with his wife, Queen Emma, on November 28.

Collect for Kamehameha

O Sovereign God, who raised up Kamehameha and Emma to be rulers in Hawaii, and inspired and enabled them to be diligent in good works for the welfare of their people and the good of your Church: Receive our thanks for their witness to the Gospel; and grant that we, with them, may attain to the crown of glory that never fades away; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-Neva Rae Fox


William Laud vs. Kamehameha

  • Kamehameha (84%, 6,121 Votes)
  • William Laud (16%, 1,154 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,275

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266 comments on “William Laud vs. Kamehameha”

  1. Whomever you voted for, and for me the King trumped the Archbishop, you have to acknowledge the Christlike humility and forgiveness in Laud at his departure.

    Speaking of Archbishops, where are they??? I miss them!

  2. I had to think about this for awhile. As much of my active ministry was in hospital chaplaincy, Kamehameha appeals to me because of his interest in health care. According to his biography, he led from his faith rather than trying to impose it on his country by force.

  3. This was a tough one. As a Nashotah House student, I love what William Laud did to bring ancient beauty back to Anglican worship, yet Kamehameha truly blessed God's people in Hawaii. So my vote goes to both the king and queen.

  4. A divider vs. an uniter. I voted for Kamehameha, who sought to serve his people in the grace and peace of Christ.

  5. Laud's practices seem a little radical. I'm going with Kamehameha, and not just because of Dragon Ball. He not only brought the religion to Hawaii before its annexation, he reformed his community.

  6. Actually, it seems that Kamehameha and William Laud share some commonalities: their passion for good Anglican liturgy. Had they lived in the same century they may have conspired together to move furniture! My vote goes to Kamehameha.

  7. As someone who was also drawn to the Episcopal/Anglican church as an adult, I had to vote for Kamehameha.

  8. Hmmm... "My way or the highway" vs healthcare and concern for ordinary people. I was all ready to vote for the archbishop, until I read the details. Archbishop Laud deserves to be in the contest, but my vote goes to the King, for his care and love for his people.

  9. Kamehameha has my vote because he steadfastly brought Christianity to his people and brought it in the "language understanded by the people."

  10. This one is difficult for me. Laud's story does remind me of current efforts to impose uniformity throughout the Anglican communion. Kamehameha's story is inspiring, although I wonder if his work to bring Anglicanism to his country was part of the introduction of the modern "plagues" associated with Western lifestyles.

  11. The Anglican missionaries were the only missionaries invited to Hawaii by the monarch, vs all the others who arrived to preach to the so-called "heathens". I remember joyous celebrations in church yearly on Kimg Kamehameha and Queen Emma day each year when we lived in Hawaii, and Emma was how I came to Lent Madness a few years ago when she was featured and an email went out to churches and vestries in Hawaii to support our local saint. He did more to encourage the growth of the church and his people than a liturgical reformer out of touch with the people. An easy choice.

  12. Going to Hawaii for our 30th anniversary. We have been looking forward to voting for King Kamehameha!

  13. King Kamehameha gets my vote for caring so much for his people. Also.......it's Hawaii. I think all of us who look out our windows to white or grey want in the best sort of way, to see palm trees and drinks with umbrellas, and white sand beaches. I think Kamehameha is going to get the "I am so sick of winter." vote.

  14. Saints who die young are a hard vote, but then again, so did Jesus. I wonder sometimes why he couldn't have stayed longer.

    Laud is an evil name, second only to Bloody Mary, among those of us of Puritan heritage. Anglo-Catholic is good. Oxford Movement is good. Anti-Puritan is bad, especially if enforced cruelly.

    But having been told just Yesterday of the table being moved from wall-facing (priest turning his back to consecrate), to it's present position just behind the rail, I thought -- who wouldn't want it the way it is now? Laud wouldn't, that's who. That sealed it.

  15. One of the things I appreciate most about the church is that wherever you go there is consistency in the liturgy and the knowledge that we are joined together with believers the world over in common prayer. I appreciate Laud for going against the tide to uphold that. Presumably that may have been part of its appeal for King K as well. Still, I have to go with the king (and queen) for accomplishing so much in such a short time. Their example challenges me personally to take my faith outside the church and to make better use of what time I have.

  16. Kamehameha for me this morning. His faith was strong, and it led him to do much practical good for his people: the translation of the BCP, schools, hospitals. What great things he might have accomplished had he been granted a longer life.

    1. Second your thoughts. Intrigued, I went to Wikipedia where I learned more about the Crown Prince's American and Continental tour. After honor audiences with Louis Napoleon, Prince Albert and Pres. Taylor, Liholiho was humiliated in confrontation with North American racism. In his own recounting of the episode where his right to travel in a train compartment was challenged, the prince says " the conductor... took me for somebody's servant just because I had a darker skin than he had. Confounded fool;. the first time that I have ever received such treatment, not in England or France or anywhere else........In England an African can pay his fare and sit alongside Queen Victoria. The Americans talk and think a great deal about their liberty, and strangers often find that too many liberties are taken of their comfort just because his hosts are a free people."

  17. Shame one all your punish hymn references! 😉
    I'm inclined to back a clergyman willing to move furniture...but bullying the bishops out of Scotland sort of soured me.

  18. I also believe Queen Emma should be on the bracket. God bless this King and Queen who worked so tirelessly to improve the temporal and spiritual lives of their community.

    1. Haha! Love it that you can use "Whiplash" in connection to your Lent Madness vote. {{shudder}} What a brutal movie!

  19. I didn't realize that King K died so young! My childish resentment toward Emma (for crushing many a saint to reach the finals in Lent Madness a couple of years ago) plus my fondness for liturgy nerds, made me WANT to vote for Laud. But I couldn't do it. I'm sure there must be more to the story, and that's why he's commemorated on the calendar, but I just couldn't do it.

  20. Although I would love to cast a sympathy vote for Laud in his tribulations over moving the altar in the name of best practices, I must vote for Kamehameha due to the laudatory service he rendered his kingdom in so many ways. Ah, the suffering entailed for sincere clerics who try to adjust the furniture...aaaugh.

  21. After reading the bios, I was surprised that the comments weren't 99% in favor of King Kamehameha. Perhaps that's because I'm not a cradle Episcopalian (although my English ancestors and relatives are Anglican). Kamehameha sounds like a good man, a good leader, and a good Christian.

  22. K gets my vote. After the winter we've had, Hawaii all the way. Seriously, though, I was pleased by the efforts of K and Emma to do things that helped, and continue to help, the people of Hawaii.

  23. Although I feel compelled to vote for Kamehameha for all the good he did and continues to do, he did not really sacrifice anything for his beliefs. It looks like he lived a pretty cushy life even thought he and his wife worked hard. But would he have given up his life for his beliefs? He didn't have those Puritans to contend with. Would he have stood up to them? And as King he probably didn't have a lot of contention with his people. What is the criteria for being a saint anyway?

    1. It depends on which church you are talking about. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches have different rules (more about miracles and martyrs) than the Episcopal Church of the U.S. Here we have a process for approving saints that is based on elected representatives (very American) and the criteria tends to be only this: an extraordinary witness of God. Their "accomplishments" may be large or small, but something about them inspires us to help build up the kingdom of God. In that sense we're all saints. However, the church has made it adequately cumbersome (you have to wait 50 years after their death to nominate someone, etc) so that not every single local saint or do-gooder will be on the calendar.

      1. This cannot be correct, I'm sorry! We are commemorating 50 years since the martyrdom of Jonathan Daniels, our church's saint (listed in the book in Canterbury cathedral), this very year. JD has been an official Episcopalian saint for some years now. Feel free to look him up, he died in the civil rights movement in Alabama, after leaving To answer MLK jr 's call to Selma. Just saying...!

        1. Maybe martyrdom speeds up the process? As a former Alabaman who grew up in the next county and remember his death, I definitely think Jonathan Daniels deserves his official sainthood.

  24. For all those wondering about Queen Emma making it into the bracket -- she's been in! She went all the way to the Golden Halo round before losing to Mary Magdalene in 2012. Along the way she defeated Catherine of Siena, Paul of Tarsus, and Dietrich Bonheoffer. It was quite a run for the queen shepherded through the bracket by now-retired celebrity Blogger Heidi Shott. It also got the Hawaiian voting block nicknamed "Big Pineapple" for their ardent support of Emma.

    1. So Tim, since Queen Emma did make it to the final round, does that mean she's retired from all future Lent Madnesses as someone suggested earlier? Or will we perhaps have the chance to see Her Majesty in a future bracket? What are the rules on retirement from LM? (for the saints...not the celebrity bloggers...which is a whole 'nuther topic, because I miss Heidi Shott's shepherding here!)

  25. Laud wasn't a good man, but he was a martyr for Anglicanism. When the forces of darkness threatened the Church, he stood firm.

  26. Defender of the faith or aboriginal "convert"? Wow, what a choice. I had to go with Laud, defender. With my sincerest apologies to that great cloud of witnesses who started as victims of the faith but allowed themselves to be loved by Jesus.