Chapter 1
A political apprenticeship,
1600–1622

Prince of Wales

Early one morning in 1623, Matthew Wren was summoned to Whitehall to meet his patron, Lancelot Andrewes. He had recently returned from Spain where he had been acting as Prince Charles’s chaplain during the farcical bid to marry the Infanta. In an atmosphere heavy with conspiracy, he was ushered into the presence of Andrewes and his fellow anti-Calvinists, Richard Neile and William Laud, and charged to tell them ‘how the Prince’s heart stands to the Church of England that when God brings him to the crown we may know what to hope for’. Wren’s reply is one of the most interesting early assessments that we have of Charles. He was careful to cover himself, emphasising that he attended on the prince for only two months of the year, then only in his closet and at meal times. But he delivered the opinion that while

my master’s learning is not equal to his father’s, yet I know his judgement to
be very right; and as for his affections for upholding the doctrine and discipline
of the church, I have more confidence of him than of his father, in whom they
say is so much inconstancy in some particular cases
.

Neile and Laud then proceeded to argue over this verdict until Wren was dismissed, still not quite sure whether he had told them what they wanted to hear.1

1Parentalia, or Memoirs of the Family of Wren, ed. S. Wren, 1760, pp. 45–7.

-1-

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