The GUNPOWDER PLOT of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the GUNPOWDER TREASON PLOT or the JESUIT TREASON, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby .
The plan was to blow up the
House of Lords
The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent
William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle , on 26 October 1605. During a
search of the
House of Lords
Details of the assassination attempt were allegedly known by the
* 1 Background
* 1.1 Religion in England * 1.2 Succession * 1.3 Early reign of James I * 1.4 Early plots
* 2 Plot
* 2.1 Initial recruitment * 2.2 Initial planning * 2.3 Further recruitment * 2.4 Undercroft * 2.5 Monteagle letter * 2.6 Discovery * 2.7 Flight * 2.8 Investigation * 2.9 Last stand
* 3 Reaction
* 3.1 Interrogations * 3.2 Jesuits * 3.3 Trials * 3.4 Executions
* 4 Aftermath
* 4.1 Accusations of state conspiracy
* 5 See also * 6 References * 7 External links
RELIGION IN ENGLAND
Main article: English Reformation See also: Roman Catholicism in England and Wales Elizabeth I
Between 1533 and 1540, the Tudor King Henry VIII took control of the English Church from Rome, the start of several decades of religious tension in England. English Catholics struggled in a society dominated by the newly separate and increasingly Protestant Church of England . Henry's daughter, Elizabeth I , responded to the growing religious divide by introducing the Elizabethan Religious Settlement , which required anyone appointed to a public or church office to swear allegiance to the monarch as head of the Church and state. The penalties for refusal were severe; fines were imposed for recusancy , and repeat offenders risked imprisonment and execution. Catholicism became marginalised, but despite the threat of torture or execution, priests continued to practise their faith in secret.
Queen Elizabeth, unmarried and childless, steadfastly refused to name an heir. Many Catholics believed that her Catholic cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots , was the legitimate heir to the English throne, but she was executed for treason in 1587. The English Secretary of State , Robert Cecil , negotiated secretly with Mary's son, James VI of Scotland , who had a strong claim to the English throne as Elizabeth's first cousin twice removed through both his parents. In the months before Elizabeth's death on 24 March 1603, Cecil prepared the way for James to succeed her.
Some exiled Catholics favoured
Philip II of Spain
Despite competing claims to the English throne, the transition of
power following Elizabeth's death went smoothly. James's succession
was announced by a proclamation from Cecil on 24 March, which was
generally celebrated. Leading papists, rather than causing trouble as
anticipated, reacted to the news by offering their enthusiastic
support for the new monarch.
For decades, the English had lived under a monarch who refused to
provide an heir, but James arrived with a family and a future line of
succession. His wife,
Anne of Denmark
EARLY REIGN OF JAMES I
King James , c. 1606 (portrait by John de Critz )
James's attitude towards Catholics was more moderate than that of his
predecessor, perhaps even tolerant. He promised that he would not
"persecute any that will be quiet and give an outward obedience to the
law", and believed that exile was a better solution than capital
punishment: "I would be glad to have both their heads and their bodies
separated from this whole island and transported beyond seas." Some
Catholics believed that the martyrdom of James's mother, Mary, Queen
of Scots , would encourage James to convert to the Catholic faith, and
the Catholic houses of Europe may also have shared that hope. James
received an envoy from the Habsburg Archduke Albert of the Southern
Netherlands, ruler of the remaining Catholic territories after over
30 years of war in the
During the late 16th century, Catholics made several assassination
attempts against Protestant rulers in Europe and in England, including
plans to poison Elizabeth I. The
In the absence of any sign that James would move to end the
persecution of Catholics, as some had hoped for, several members of
the clergy (including two anti-
The Catholic community responded to news of these plots with shock. That the Bye Plot had been revealed by Catholics was instrumental in saving them from further persecution, and James was grateful enough to allow pardons for those recusants who sued for them, as well as postponing payment of their fines for a year.
On 19 February 1604, shortly after he discovered that his wife, Queen Anne, had been sent a rosary from the pope via one of James's spies, Sir Anthony Standen, James denounced the Catholic Church. Three days later, he ordered all Jesuits and all other Catholic priests to leave the country, and reimposed the collection of fines for recusancy. James changed his focus from the anxieties of English Catholics to the establishment of an Anglo-Scottish union. He also appointed Scottish nobles such as George Home to his court, which proved unpopular with the Parliament of England . Some Members of Parliament made it clear that in their view, the "effluxion of people from the Northern parts" was unwelcome, and compared them to "plants which are transported from barren ground into a more fertile one". Even more discontent resulted when the King allowed his Scottish nobles to collect the recusancy fines. There were 5,560 convicted of recusancy in 1605, of whom 112 were landowners. The very few Catholics of great wealth who refused to attend services at their parish church were fined £20 per month. Those of more moderate means had to pay two-thirds of their annual rental income; middle class recusants were fined one shilling a week, although the collection of all these fines was "haphazard and negligent". When James came to power, almost £5,000 a year (equivalent to over £10 million in 2008) was being raised by these fines.
On 19 March, the King gave his opening speech to his first English Parliament in which he spoke of his desire to secure peace, but only by "profession of the true religion". He also spoke of a Christian union and reiterated his desire to avoid religious persecution. For the Catholics, the King's speech made it clear that they were not to "increase their number and strength in this Kingdom", that "they might be in hope to erect their Religion again". To Father John Gerard , these words were almost certainly responsible for the heightened levels of persecution the members of his faith now suffered, and for the priest Oswald Tesimond they were a rebuttal of the early claims that the King had made, upon which the papists had built their hopes. A week after James's speech, Lord Sheffield informed the king of over 900 recusants brought before the Assizes in Normanby, and on 24 April a Bill was introduced in Parliament which threatened to outlaw all English followers of the Catholic Church.
King James's daughter Princess Elizabeth , whom the conspirators planned to install on the throne as a Catholic Queen
The conspirators' principal aim was to kill King James, but many
other important targets would also be present at the State Opening,
including the monarch's nearest relatives and members of the Privy
Council . The senior judges of the English legal system, most of the
Protestant aristocracy, and the bishops of the
Church of England would
all have attended in their capacity as members of the House of Lords,
along with the members of the House of Commons . Another important
objective was the kidnapping of the King's daughter, third in the line
of succession, Princess Elizabeth. Housed at
Robert Catesby (1573–1605), a man of "ancient, historic and distinguished lineage", was the inspiration behind the plot. He was described by contemporaries as "a good-looking man, about six feet tall, athletic and a good swordsman". Along with several other conspirators, he took part in the Earl of Essex 's rebellion in 1601, during which he was wounded and captured. Queen Elizabeth allowed him to escape with his life after fining him 4,000 marks (equivalent to more than £6 million in 2008), after which he sold his estate in Chastleton . In 1603 Catesby helped to organise a mission to the new king of Spain, Philip III , urging Philip to launch an invasion attempt on England, which they assured him would be well supported, particularly by the English Catholics. Thomas Wintour (1571–1606) was chosen as the emissary, but the Spanish king, although sympathetic to the plight of Catholics in England, was intent on making peace with James. Wintour had also attempted to convince the Spanish envoy Don Juan de Tassis that "3,000 Catholics" were ready and waiting to support such an invasion. Concern was voiced by Pope Clement VIII that using violence to achieve a restoration of Catholic power in England would result in the destruction of those that remained.
According to contemporary accounts, in February 1604 Catesby invited
Thomas Wintour to his house in
Lambeth , where they discussed
Catesby's plan to re-establish Catholicism in England by blowing up
House of Lords
Wintour travelled to Flanders to enquire about Spanish support. While
there he sought out
Guy Fawkes (1570–1606), a committed Catholic who
had served as a soldier in the
Southern Netherlands under the command
of William Stanley , and who in 1603 was recommended for a captaincy.
Accompanied by John Wright's brother Christopher, Fawkes had also been
a member of the 1603 delegation to the Spanish court pleading for an
invasion of England. Wintour told Fawkes that "some good frends of his
wished his company in Ingland", and that certain gentlemen "were uppon
a resolution to doe some whatt in Ingland if the pece with Spain
healped us nott". The two men returned to England late in April 1604,
telling Catesby that Spanish support was unlikely. Thomas Percy,
Catesby's friend and John Wright's brother-in-law, was introduced to
the plot several weeks later. Percy had found employment with his
kinsman the Earl of Northumberland, and by 1596 was his agent for the
family's northern estates. About 1600–1601 he served with his patron
A contemporary engraving of eight of the thirteen conspirators, by Crispijn van de Passe . Missing are Digby, Keyes, Rookwood, Grant, and Tresham.
The first meeting between the five conspirators took place on 20 May 1604, probably at the Duck and Drake Inn, just off the Strand , Thomas Wintour's usual residence when staying in London. Catesby, Thomas Wintour, and John Wright were in attendance, joined by Guy Fawkes and Thomas Percy . Alone in a private room, the five plotters swore an oath of secrecy on a prayer book. By coincidence, and ignorant of the plot, Father John Gerard (a friend of Catesby's) was celebrating Mass in another room, and the five men subsequently received the Eucharist .
Following their oath, the plotters left
The conspirators returned to
It was announced on 24 December that the re-opening of Parliament would be delayed. Concern over the plague meant that rather than sitting in February, as the plotters had originally planned for, Parliament would not sit again until 3 October 1605. The contemporaneous account of the prosecution claimed that during this delay the conspirators were digging a tunnel beneath Parliament. This may have been a government fabrication, as no evidence for the existence of a tunnel was presented by the prosecution, and no trace of one has ever been found. The account of a tunnel comes directly from Thomas Wintour's confession, and Guy Fawkes did not admit the existence of such a scheme until his fifth interrogation. Logistically, digging a tunnel would have proved extremely difficult, especially as none of the conspirators had any experience of mining. If the story is true, by 6 December the Scottish commissioners had finished their work, and the conspirators were busy tunnelling from their rented house to the House of Lords. They ceased their efforts when, during tunnelling, they heard a noise from above. The noise turned out to be the then-tenant's widow, who was clearing out the undercroft directly beneath the House of Lords—the room where the plotters eventually stored the gunpowder.
By the time the plotters reconvened at the start of the old style new
Lady Day , 25 March, three more had been admitted to their
ranks; Robert Wintour , John Grant , and Christopher Wright . The
additions of Wintour and Wright were obvious choices. Along with a
small fortune, Robert Wintour inherited
Huddington Court (a known
refuge for priests) near
In addition, 25 March was the day on which the plotters purchased the
lease to the undercroft they had supposedly tunnelled near to, owned
by John Whynniard. The
Palace of Westminster
In the second week of June Catesby met in
According to Fawkes, 20 barrels of gunpowder were brought in at first, followed by 16 more on 20 July. The supply of gunpowder was theoretically controlled by the government, but it was easily obtained from illicit sources. On 28 July, the ever-present threat of the plague again delayed the opening of Parliament, this time until Tuesday 5 November. Fawkes left the country for a short time. The King, meanwhile, spent much of the summer away from the city, hunting. He stayed wherever was convenient, including on occasion at the houses of prominent Catholics. Garnet, convinced that the threat of an uprising had receded, travelled the country on a pilgrimage .
It is uncertain when Fawkes returned to England, but he was back in
Catesby and Tresham met at the home of Tresham's brother-in-law and cousin, Lord Stourton . In his confession, Tresham claimed that he had asked Catesby if the plot would damn their souls, to which Catesby had replied it would not, and that the plight of England's Catholics required that it be done. Catesby also apparently asked for £2,000, and the use of Rushton Hall in Northamptonshire . Tresham declined both offers (although he did give £100 to Thomas Wintour), and told his interrogators that he had moved his family from Rushton to London in advance of the plot; hardly the actions of a guilty man, he claimed.
An anonymous letter, sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, was instrumental in revealing the plot's existence. Its author's identity has never been reliably established, although Francis Tresham has long been a suspect. Monteagle himself has been considered responsible, as has Salisbury.
The details of the plot were finalised in October, in a series of
The wives of those involved and Anne Vaux (a friend of Garnet who often shielded priests at her home) became increasingly concerned by what they suspected was about to happen. Several of the conspirators expressed worries about the safety of fellow Catholics who would be present in Parliament on the day of the planned explosion. Percy was concerned for his patron, Northumberland, and the young Earl of Arundel 's name was brought up; Catesby suggested that a minor wound might keep him from the chamber on that day. The Lords Vaux, Montague , Monteagle , and Stourton were also mentioned. Keyes suggested warning Lord Mordaunt, his wife's employer, to derision from Catesby.
On Saturday 26 October, Monteagle (Tresham's brother-in-law) received an anonymous letter while at his house in Hoxton . Having broken the seal, he handed the letter to a servant who read it aloud:
My Lord, out of the love I bear to some of your friends, I have a care of your preservation. Therefore I would advise you, as you tender your life, to devise some excuse to shift your attendance at this parliament; for God and man hath concurred to punish the wickedness of this time. And think not slightly of this advertisement, but retire yourself into your country where you may expect the event in safety. For though there be no appearance of any stir, yet I say they shall receive a terrible blow this Parliament; and yet they shall not see who hurts them. This counsel is not to be condemned because it may do you good and can do you no harm; for the danger is passed as soon as you have burnt the letter. And I hope God will give you the grace to make good use of it, to whose holy protection I commend you.
Uncertain of the letter's meaning, Monteagle promptly rode to
The letter was shown to the King on Friday 1 November following his
arrival back in London. Upon reading it, James immediately seized upon
the word "blow" and felt that it hinted at "some strategem of fire and
powder", perhaps an explosion exceeding in violence the one that
killed his father, Lord Darnley , at Kirk o\' Field in 1567. Keen not
to seem too intriguing, and wanting to allow the King to take the
credit for unveiling the conspiracy, Salisbury feigned ignorance. The
following day members of the
Privy Council visited the King at the
Although two accounts of the number of searches and their timing
exist, according to the King's version, the first search of the
buildings in and around Parliament was made on Monday 4 November—as
the plotters were busy making their final preparations—by Suffolk,
Monteagle, and John Whynniard. They found a large pile of firewood in
the undercroft beneath the House of Lords, accompanied by what they
presumed to be a serving man (Fawkes), who told them that the firewood
belonged to his master, Thomas Percy. They left to report their
findings, at which time Fawkes also left the building. The mention of
Percy's name aroused further suspicion as he was already known to the
authorities as a Catholic agitator. The King insisted that a more
thorough search be undertaken. Late that night, the search party,
headed by Thomas Knyvet , returned to the undercroft. They again found
Fawkes, dressed in a cloak and hat, and wearing boots and spurs. He
was arrested, whereupon he gave his name as John Johnson. He was
carrying a lantern now held in the
Ashmolean Museum ,
As news of "John Johnson's" arrest spread among the plotters still in London, most fled northwest, along Watling Street . Christopher Wright and Thomas Percy left together. Rookwood left soon after, and managed to cover 30 miles in two hours on one horse. He overtook Keyes, who had set off earlier, then Wright and Percy at Little Brickhill , before catching Catesby, John Wright, and Bates on the same road. Reunited, the group continued northwest to Dunchurch , using horses provided by Digby. Keyes went to Mordaunt's house at Drayton . Meanwhile, Thomas Wintour stayed in London, and even went to Westminster to see what was happening. When he realised the plot had been uncovered, he took his horse and made for his sister's house at Norbrook , before continuing to Huddington Court . On the 5th of November we began our Parliament, to which the King should have come in person, but refrained through a practise but that morning discovered. The plot was to have blown up the King at such time as he should have been set on his Royal Throne, accompanied with all his Children, Nobility and Commoners and assisted with all Bishops, Judges and Doctors; at one instant and blast to have ruin'd the whole State and Kingdom of England. And for the effecting of this, there was placed under the Parliament House, where the king should sit, some 30 barrels of powder, with good store of wood, faggots, pieces and bars of iron. Extract of a letter from Sir Edward Hoby (Gentleman of the Bedchamber ) to Sir Thomas Edwards, Ambassador at Brussells
The group of six conspirators stopped at Ashby St Ledgers at about 6 pm, where they met Robert Wintour and updated him on their situation. They then continued on to Dunchurch, and met with Digby. Catesby convinced him that despite the plot's failure, an armed struggle was still a real possibility. He announced to Digby's "hunting party" that the King and Salisbury were dead, before the fugitives moved west to Warwick.
In London, news of the plot was spreading, and the authorities set extra guards on the city gates , closed the ports, and protected the house of the Spanish Ambassador, which was surrounded by an angry mob. An arrest warrant was issued against Thomas Percy, and his patron, the Earl of Northumberland, was placed under house arrest. In "John Johnson's" initial interrogation he revealed nothing other than the name of his mother, and that he was from Yorkshire. A letter to Guy Fawkes was discovered on his person, but he claimed that name was one of his aliases. Far from denying his intentions, "Johnson" stated that it had been his purpose to destroy the King and Parliament. Nevertheless, he maintained his composure and insisted that he had acted alone. His unwillingness to yield so impressed the King that he described him as possessing "a Roman resolution".
A torture rack in the Tower of
On 6 November, the Lord Chief Justice, Sir John Popham (a man with a
deep-seated hatred of Catholics) questioned Rookwood's servants. By
the evening he had learned the names of several of those involved in
the conspiracy: Catesby, Rookwood, Keyes, Wynter , John and
Christopher Wright, and Grant. "Johnson" meanwhile persisted with his
story, and along with the gunpowder he was found with, was moved to
the Tower of
On 6 November, with Fawkes maintaining his silence, the fugitives
Warwick Castle for supplies and continued to
collect weapons. From there they continued their journey to
Huddington. Bates left the group and travelled to
Coughton Court to
deliver a letter from Catesby, to Father Garnet and the other priests,
informing them of what had transpired, and asking for their help in
raising an army. Garnet replied by begging Catesby and his followers
to stop their "wicked actions", before himself fleeing. Several
priests set out for Warwick, worried about the fate of their
colleagues. They were caught, and then imprisoned in London. Catesby
and the others arrived at Huddington early in the afternoon, and were
met by Thomas Wintour. They received practically no support or
sympathy from those they met, including family members, who were
terrified at the prospect of being associated with treason. They
continued on to
Holbeche House on the border of
Thomas Wintour and Littleton, on their way from Huddington to Holbeche House, were told by a messenger that Catesby had died. At that point, Littleton left, but Thomas arrived at the house to find Catesby alive, albeit scorched. John Grant was not so lucky, and had been blinded by the fire. Digby, Robert Wintour and his half-brother John, and Thomas Bates, had all left. Of the plotters, only the singed figures of Catesby and Grant, and the Wright brothers, Rookwood, and Percy, remained. The fugitives resolved to stay in the house and wait for the arrival of the King's men.
Richard Walsh (Sheriff of Worcestershire ) and his company of 200 men besieged Holbeche House on the morning of 8 November. Thomas Wintour was hit in the shoulder while crossing the courtyard. John Wright was shot, followed by his brother, and then Rookwood. Catesby and Percy were reportedly killed by a single lucky shot. The attackers rushed the property, and stripped the dead or dying defenders of their clothing. Grant, Morgan, Rookwood, and Wintour were arrested.
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury. Painting by John de Critz the Elder, 1602.
Bates and Keyes were captured shortly after
Holbeche House was taken.
Digby, who had intended to give himself up, was caught by a small
group of pursuers. Tresham was arrested on 12 November, and taken to
the Tower three days later. Montague, Mordaunt, and Stourton
(Tresham's brother-in-law) were also imprisoned in the Tower. The Earl
of Northumberland joined them on 27 November. Meanwhile the
government used the revelation of the plot to accelerate its
persecution of Catholics. The home of
Anne Vaux at
Enfield Chase was
searched, revealing the presence of trap doors and hidden passages. A
terrified servant then revealed that Garnet, who had often stayed at
the house, had recently given a Mass there. Father John Gerard was
secreted at the home of Elizabeth Vaux , in Harrowden. Elizabeth was
The foiling of the
Part of a confession by Guy Fawkes. His weak signature, made soon after his torture, is faintly visible under the word "good" (lower right).
Only two confessions were printed in full: Fawkes's confession of 8
November, and Wintour's of 23 November. Having been involved in the
conspiracy from the start (unlike Fawkes), Wintour was able to give
extremely valuable information to the Privy Council. The handwriting
on his testimony is almost certainly that of the man himself, but his
signature was markedly different. Wintour had previously only ever
signed his name as such, but his confession is signed "Winter", and
since he had been shot in the shoulder, the steady hand used to write
the signature may indicate some measure of government
interference—or it may indicate that writing a shorter version of
his name was less painful. Wintour's testimony makes no mention of
his brother, Robert. Both were published in the so-called King's Book,
a hastily written official account of the conspiracy published in late
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was in a difficult position. His midday dinner with Thomas Percy on 4 November was damning evidence against him, and after Thomas Percy's death there was nobody who could either implicate him or clear him. The Privy Council suspected that Northumberland would have been Princess Elizabeth's protector had the plot succeeded, but there was insufficient evidence to convict him. Northumberland remained in the Tower and on 27 June 1606 was finally charged with contempt. He was stripped of all public offices, fined £30,000 (about £5.9 million in 2017), and kept in the Tower until June 1621. The Lords Mordaunt and Stourton were tried in the Star Chamber . They were condemned to imprisonment in the Tower, where they remained until 1608, when they were transferred to the Fleet Prison . Both were also given significant fines.
Several other people not involved in the conspiracy, but known or related to the conspirators, were also questioned. Northumberland's brothers, Sir Allen and Sir Josceline, were arrested. Anthony-Maria Browne, 2nd Viscount Montagu had employed Fawkes at an early age, and had also met Catesby on 29 October, and was therefore of interest; he was released several months later. Agnes Wenman was from a Catholic family, and related to Elizabeth Vaux. She was examined twice but the charges against her were eventually dropped. Percy's secretary and later the controller of Northumberland's household, Dudley Carleton , had leased the vault where the gunpowder was stored, and consequently he was imprisoned in the Tower. Salisbury believed his story, and authorised his release.
Thomas Bates confessed on 4 December, providing much of the
information that Salisbury needed to link the Catholic clergy to the
plot. Bates had been present at most of the conspirators' meetings,
and under interrogation he implicated Father Tesimond in the plot. On
13 January 1606 he described how he had visited Garnet and Tesimond on
7 November to inform Garnet of the plot's failure. Bates also told his
interrogators of his ride with Tesimond to Huddington, before the
priest left him to head for the Habingtons at Hindlip Hall, and of a
meeting between Garnet, Gerard, and Tesimond in October 1605. At about
the same time in December, Tresham's health began to deteriorate. He
was visited regularly by his wife, a nurse, and his servant William
Vavasour, who documented his strangury . Before he died Tresham had
also told of Garnet's involvement with the 1603 mission to Spain, but
in his last hours he retracted some of these statements. Nowhere in
his confession did he mention the Monteagle letter. He died early on
the morning of 23 December, and was buried in the Tower. Nevertheless
he was attainted along with the other plotters, his head was set on a
pike either at Northampton or
On 15 January a proclamation named Father Garnet, Father Gerard, and
Father Greenway (Tesimond) as wanted men. Tesimond and Gerard managed
to escape the country and live out their days in freedom; Garnet was
not so lucky. Several days earlier, on 9 January, Robert Wintour and
Stephen Littleton were captured. Their hiding place at
Hagley , the
Humphrey Littleton (brother of MP John Littleton , imprisoned
for treason in 1601 for his part in the Essex revolt) was betrayed by
a cook, who grew suspicious of the amount of food sent up for his
master's consumption. Humphrey denied the presence of the two
fugitives, but another servant led the authorities to their hiding
place. On 20 January the local Justice and his retainers arrived at
Thomas Habington's home, Hindlip Hall, to arrest the Jesuits. Despite
Thomas Habington's protests, the men spent the next four days
searching the house. On 24 January, starving, two priests left their
hiding places and were discovered. Humphrey Littleton, who had escaped
from the authorities at Hagley, got as far as
By coincidence, on the same day that Garnet was found, the surviving
conspirators were arraigned in
Westminster Hall . Seven of the
prisoners were taken from the Tower to the
Star Chamber by barge.
Bates, who was considered lower class, was brought from the Gatehouse
Prison . Some of the prisoners were reportedly despondent, but others
were nonchalant, even smoking tobacco. The King and his family, hidden
from view, were among the many who watched the trial. The Lords
Commissioners present were the Earls of
The first to speak was the Speaker of the House of Commons (later
Master of the Rolls ), Sir Edward Philips , who described the intent
behind the plot in lurid detail. He was followed by the
Each of the condemned, said Coke, would be drawn backwards to his death, by a horse, his head near the ground. He was to be "put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both". His genitals would be cut off and burnt before his eyes, and his bowels and heart then removed. Then he would be decapitated, and the dismembered parts of his body displayed so that they might become "prey for the fowls of the air". Confessions and declarations from the prisoners were then read aloud, and finally the prisoners were allowed to speak. Rookwood claimed that he had been drawn into the plot by Catesby, "whom he loved above any worldy man". Thomas Wintour begged to be hanged for himself and his brother, so that his brother might be spared. Fawkes explained his not guilty plea as ignorance of certain aspects of the indictment. Keyes appeared to accept his fate, Bates and Robert Wintour begged for mercy, and Grant explained his involvement as "a conspiracy intended but never effected". Only Digby, tried on a separate indictment, pleaded guilty, insisting that the King had reneged upon promises of toleration for Catholics, and that affection for Catesby and love of the Catholic cause mitigated his actions. He sought death by the axe and begged mercy from the King for his young family. His defence was in vain; his arguments were rebuked by Coke and Northumberland, and along with his seven co-conspirators, he was found guilty by the jury of high treason . Digby shouted "If I may but hear any of your lordships say, you forgive me, I shall go more cheerfully to the gallows." The response was short: "God forgive you, and we do."
Garnet may have been questioned on as many as 23 occasions. His
response to the threat of the rack was "Minare ista pueris ", and he
denied having encouraged Catholics to pray for the success of the
"Catholic Cause". His interrogators resorted to the forgery of
correspondence between Garnet and other Catholics, but to no avail.
His jailers then allowed him to talk with another priest in a
neighbouring cell, with eavesdroppers listening to every word.
Eventually Garnet let slip a crucial piece of information, that there
was only one man who could testify that he had any knowledge of the
plot. Under torture Garnet admitted that he had heard of the plot from
Print of members of the
Although Catesby and Percy escaped the executioner, their bodies were
exhumed and decapitated, and their heads exhibited on spikes outside
the House of Lords. On a cold 30 January, Everard Digby, Robert
Wintour, John Grant, and Thomas Bates, were tied to hurdles—wooden
panels —and dragged through the crowded streets of
Steven Littleton was executed at Stafford. His cousin Humphrey, despite his cooperation with the authorities, met his end at Red Hill near Worcester. Henry Garnet's execution took place on 3 May 1606.
Greater freedom for Roman Catholics to worship as they chose seemed
unlikely in 1604, but the discovery of such a wide-ranging conspiracy,
the capture of those involved, and the subsequent trials, led
Parliament to consider introducing new anti-Catholic legislation. In
the summer of 1606, laws against recusancy were strengthened; the
Popish Recusants Act returned England to the Elizabethan system of
fines and restrictions, introduced a sacramental test, and an Oath of
Allegiance, requiring Catholics to abjure as a "heresy" the doctrine
that "princes excommunicated by the Pope could be deposed or
William Shakespeare had already used the family
history of Northumberland's family in his Henry IV series of plays,
and the events of the
The Gunpowder Plot
ACCUSATIONS OF STATE CONSPIRACY
Many at the time felt that Salisbury had been involved in the plot to gain favour with the King and enact more stridently anti-Catholic legislation. Such conspiracy theories alleged that Salisbury had either actually invented the plot or allowed it to continue when his agents had already infiltrated it, for the purposes of propaganda. The Popish Plot of 1678 sparked renewed interest in the Gunpowder Plot, resulting in a book by Thomas Barlow , Bishop of Lincoln, which refuted "a bold and groundless surmise that all this was a contrivance of Secretary Cecil".
In 1897 Father John Gerard of
The cellars under the Houses of Parliament continued to be leased out to private individuals until 1678, when news of the Popish Plot broke. It was then considered prudent to search the cellars on the day before each State Opening of Parliament , a ritual that survives to this day.
Main article: Guy Fawkes Night Bonfires are lit in Britain every 5th of November to commemorate the failure of the plot.
In January 1606, during the first sitting of Parliament since the plot, the Observance of 5th November Act 1605 was passed, making services and sermons commemorating the event an annual feature of English life; the act remained in force until 1859 . The tradition of marking the day with the ringing of church bells and bonfires started soon after the Plot's discovery, and fireworks were included in some of the earliest celebrations. In Britain, the 5th of November is variously called Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night, or Guy Fawkes Night .
It remains the custom in Britain, on or around 5 November, to let off fireworks . Traditionally, in the weeks running up to the 5th, children made "guys"—effigies supposedly of Fawkes—usually made from old clothes stuffed with newspaper, and fitted with a grotesque mask, to be burnt on the 5 November bonfire. These guys were exhibited in the street to collect money for fireworks, although this custom has become less common. The word guy thus came in the 19th century to mean an oddly dressed person, and hence in the 20th and 21st centuries to mean any male person.
November the 5th firework displays and bonfire parties are common
throughout Britain, in major public displays and in private gardens.
In some areas, particularly in Sussex, there are extensive
processions, large bonfires and firework displays organised by local
bonfire societies , the most elaborate of which take place in
According to the biographer
Esther Forbes , the
Guy Fawkes Day
celebration in the pre-revolutionary American colonies was a very
popular holiday. In
RECONSTRUCTING THE EXPLOSION
A photograph of the explosion, moments after detonation
In the 2005 ITV programme The
The programme also disproved claims that some deterioration in the quality of the gunpowder would have prevented the explosion. A portion of deliberately deteriorated gunpowder, of such low quality as to make it unusable in firearms, when placed in a heap and ignited, still managed to create a large explosion. The impact of even deteriorated gunpowder would have been magnified by its containment in wooden barrels, compensating for the quality of the contents. The compression would have created a cannon effect, with the powder first blowing up from the top of the barrel before, a millisecond later, blowing out. Calculations showed that Fawkes, who was skilled in the use of gunpowder, had deployed double the amount needed.
Some of the gunpowder guarded by Fawkes may have survived. In March
2002 workers cataloguing archives of diarist
John Evelyn at the
* ^ James VI of Scotland was a great-great-grandson of Henry VII of
England, and thus Elizabeth's first cousin twice removed since Henry
VII was Elizabeth's paternal grandfather.
* ^ Salisbury wrote to James, "The subject itself is so perilous to
touch amongst us as it setteth a mark upon his head forever that
hatcheth such a bird".
* ^ The heir presumptive under the terms of Henry VIII\'s will ,
Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp , or Anne Stanley,
Countess of Castlehaven , depending on whether one recognised the
legitimacy of the first-mentioned's birth; and the Lady Arbella Stuart
on grounds similar to James's own.
* ^ Historians are divided on when and if Anne converted to
Catholicism. "Some time in the 1590s, Anne became a Roman Catholic."
"Some time after 1600, but well before March 1603, Queen Anne was
received into the Catholic Church in a secret chamber in the royal
palace". "... Sir John Lindsay went to Rome in November 1604 and had
an audience with the pope at which he revealed that the queen was
already a Catholic". "Catholic foreign ambassadors—who would surely
have welcomed such a situation—were certain that the Queen was
beyond their reach. 'She is a Lutheran', concluded the Venetian envoy
Nicolo Molin in 1606." "In 1602 a report appeared, claiming that Anne
... had converted to the Catholic faith some years before. The author,
* ^ Haynes 2005 , p. 12 * ^ Willson 1963 , p. 154 * ^ Haynes 2005 , p. 15 * ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. xxv–xxvi * ^ Fraser 2005 , p. xxv * ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. xxvii–xxix * ^ A B Fraser 2005 , p. 91 * ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. 70–74 * ^ Brice 1994 , p. 88 * ^ Fraser 2005 , p. 46 * ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. xxx–xxxi * ^ Fraser 2005 , p. 7 * ^ A B Marshall 2006 , p. 227 * ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976 , pp. 32–33 * ^ Marshall 2006 , p. 228 * ^ Haynes 2005 , pp. 32–39 * ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. 76–78 * ^ Willson 1963 , p. 95 * ^ Fraser 2005 , p. 15 * ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976 , p. 36 * ^ Stewart 2003 , p. 182 * ^ Hogge 2005 , pp. 303–4 * ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. 41–42 * ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. 100–103 * ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. 103–106 * ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976 , p. 8 * ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976 , p. 34 * ^ A B Officer, Lawrence H. (2009), Purchasing Power of British Pounds from 1264 to Present, MeasuringWorth, retrieved 3 December 2009
* ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976 , p. 33
* ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. 106–107
* ^ Fraser 2005 , p. 108
* ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976 , p. 46
* ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. 140–142
* ^ Haynes 2005 , p. 47
* ^ A B C Northcote Parkinson 1976 , pp. 44–46
* ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976 , pp. 45–46
* ^ Fraser 2005 , p. 93
* ^ Fraser 2005 , p. 90
* ^ Haynes 2005 , p. 50
* ^ A B C Fraser 2005 , pp. 59–61
* ^ Fraser 2005 , p. 58
* ^ Fraser 2005 , pp. 84–89
* ^ A B C Nicholls, Mark (2004), "Winter, Thomas (c. 1571–1606)",
* ^ Govan, Fiona (31 October 2005), Guy Fawkes had twice the gunpowder needed, telegraph.co.uk, retrieved 18 January 2008 * ^ Guy Fawkes\' gunpowder \'found\', news.bbc.co.uk, 21 March 2002, retrieved 3 November 2009
* Brice, Katherine (1994), The Early Stuarts 1603–40, Hodder
Education, ISBN 978-0-340-57510-9
* Cressy, David (1989), Bonfires and bells: national memory and the
Protestant calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England, Weidenfeld &
Nicolson , ISBN 0-297-79343-8
* Croft, Pauline (2003), King James, Macmillan, ISBN 0-333-61395-3
* Demaray, John G. (1984), Simmonds, James D., ed., "
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