Archbishop Laud's ecclesiastical and political energy has left historians gasping behind him. This is not simply a result of his passion for detail and singleminded capacity for hard work; it is also a product of his geographical and administrative range. With remarkable prescience, he anticipated current concern with the broader ‘British’ dimension of early modern history and viewed religious policy not in a narrowly English sense, or confined only to church matters, but in terms of all three royal dominions, and extending to education as well. The result is a standing challenge, not merely to historians' stamina, but also to the instinctive compartmentalisation of their approach to the 1630s which has sought to confine Laud within national boundaries and see him solely as an ecclesiastical leader.
To understand Laud's policies and those of his royal master thus requires historians to expand their horizons beyond the southern province of England, to the more marginal regions of England and Wales, and even to the remote fastnesses of Scotland and Ireland. Recent studies of Laud's involvement in Ireland, for example, have demonstrated how the change in context and freedom of action can help to reveal some of his inner motives and ideological concerns. In England it is possible to argue about whether Laud in fact exercised any direct power, even to claim that he was merely an obedient servant of the real driving force, King Charles I, thus replacing ‘Laudianism’ by ‘Carolinism’.