Arminianism was a movement that took its name from Jacob Arminius (1560-1609), a Dutch theologian who challenged the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. During the early 17th century, the term was applied to a small group of Anglican clergymen who favoured a return to the ceremony and ritual of the pre-Reformation Church, which ran counter to the prevailing Puritanism of the Church during the reign of King James. His successor Charles I favoured the Arminians because they advocated ordered practices of worship and obedience to the King's authority as head of the Church.

In 1625, the Arminian cleric Richard Montagu was attacked by Parliament for arguing that Calvinist doctrines were alien to the Church of England's teaching. He appealed to King Charles, who supported him by making him his chaplain.

Although Arminianism never had a popular following, it became very influential when William Laud was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633. Laud provoked great hostility for his vigorous and uncompromising reforms of Church liturgy, involving set hours of prayer and a more ritualistic approach to worship, which Puritans regarded as a move towards Roman Catholic practices.

Arminian influence was driven out during the Civil Wars and Commonwealth era, but re-emerged after the Restoration amongst Anglo-Catholics. The name was also applied to John Wesley's Methodists during the 18th century because of their hostility to Calvinism.


Pauline Gregg, King Charles I, (Berkeley 1984)

C.V. Wedgwood, The King's Peace, (London 1955)