The Full Wiki

Gunpowder Plot: Wikis

  
  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...


More interesting facts on Gunpowder Plot

Include this on your site/blog:

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gunpowder Plot
Three illustrations in a horizontal alignment. The leftmost shows a woman praying, in a room. The rightmost shows a similar scene. The centre image shows a horizon filled with buildings, from across a river. The caption reads "Westminster". At the top of the image, "The Gunpowder Plot" begins a short description of the document's contents.
A contemporary report of the plot
Participants Robert Catesby, Thomas Wintour, Robert Wintour, Guy Fawkes, John Wright, Christopher Wright, Robert Keyes, Thomas Percy, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby, Francis Tresham, Thomas Bates
Location London, England
Date 5 November 1605
Result Execution

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot, 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 during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605, the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James's nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed. His fellow plotters included Thomas Wintour, Robert Wintour, John Wright, Christopher Wright, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Percy, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby, Francis Tresham and Thomas Bates. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands in suppression of the Dutch Revolt, was given charge of the explosives.

The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, on 26 October 1605. During a consequent search of the House of Lords, early in the morning of 5 November 1605, Fawkes was discovered guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder—enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble—and arrested. Most of the conspirators fled from London as they learned of the plot's discovery, trying to enlist support along the way. Several made a stand against the pursuing Sheriff of Worcester and his men at Holbeche House; in the ensuing battle Catesby was one of those shot and killed. At their trial on 27 January 1606, eight of the survivors, including Fawkes, were convicted and sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.

Details of the assassination attempt were allegedly known by the principal Jesuit of England, Father Henry Garnet. Although Garnet was convicted and sentenced to death, doubt has since been cast on how much he really knew of the plot. As its existence was revealed to him through confession, Garnet was prevented from informing the authorities by the absolute confidentiality of the confessional. Although anti-Catholic legislation was introduced soon after the plot's discovery, many important and loyal Catholics retained high office during King James I's reign. The thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot was commemorated for many years afterwards by special sermons and other public events such as the ringing of church bells, which have evolved into the Bonfire Night of today.

Contents

Background

Religion in England

A three-quarter portrait of a middle-aged woman wearing a tiara, bodice, puffed-out sleeves, and a lace ruff. The outfit is heavily decorated with patterns and jewels. Her face is pale, her hair light brown. The backdrop is mostly black.
Catholics suffered persecution under 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.[1]

Succession

Queen Elizabeth was unmarried, childless, and 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 had been 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.[nb 1] In the months before Elizabeth's death on 24 March 1603, Cecil prepared the way for James to succeed her.[nb 2]

A full length portrait of a middle-aged man, wearing a grey doublet with grey tights, and brown fur draped over his shoulders.
Portrait of James by John de Critz, c. 1606

Some exiled Catholics favoured Philip II of Spain's daughter, Infanta Isabella, as Elizabeth's successor. More moderate Catholics looked to James's and Elizabeth's cousin Arbella Stuart, a woman thought to have Catholic sympathies.[3] As Elizabeth's health deteriorated, the government detained those they considered to be the "principal papists",[4] and the Privy Council grew so worried that Stuart was moved closer to London to prevent her from being kidnapped by papists.[5]

Despite competing claims to the English throne, the transition of power following Elizabeth's death went smoothly.[nb 3] James's succession was announced by a proclamation from the Earl of Salisbury 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. Jesuit priests, whose presence in England was punishable by death, also demonstrated their support for James, who was widely believed to embody "the natural order of things".[6] James ordered a ceasefire in the conflict with Spain, and even though the two countries were still technically at war King Philip III sent his envoy, Don Juan de Tassis, to congratulate James on his accession.[7]

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, was the daughter of a king. Their eldest child, the nine-year-old Henry, was considered a handsome and confident boy, and their two younger children, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Charles, were proof that James was able to provide heirs to continue the Protestant monarchy.[8]

Early reign of James I

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",[9] 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."[10] 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.[11] James received an envoy from the Habsburg Archduke Albert of the Southern Netherlands,[7] ruler of the remaining Catholic territories after over 30 years of war in the Dutch Revolt by English-supported Protestant rebels. For the Catholic expatriates engaged in that struggle, the restoration by force of a Catholic monarchy was an intriguing possibility, but following the failed Spanish invasion of England in 1588 the papacy had taken a longer-term view on the return of a Catholic monarch to the English throne.[12]

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 Jesuit Juan de Mariana's 1598 On Kings and the Education of Kings explicitly justified the assassination of the French king Henri III—who had been stabbed to death by a Dominican friar in 1589—and until the 1620s, some English Catholics believed that regicide was justifiable to remove tyrants from power.[13] Much of the "rather nervous"[14] James I's political writing was "concerned with the threat of Catholic assassination and refutation of the [Catholic] argument that 'faith did not need to be kept with heretics'".[15]

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,[nb 4] 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.[21] James changed his focus from the anxieties of English Catholics to the establishment of an Anglo-Scottish union.[22] 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.[23] There were 5,560 convicted of recusancy in 1605, of whom 112 were landowners.[24] 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".[25] When James came to power, almost £5,000 a year (equivalent to over £10 million as of 2008) was being raised by these fines.[nb 5][26][27]

Early plots

On 19 March 1604, 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 papists however, 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.[28] A week after James's speech, Lord Sheffield informed him 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.[29]

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-Jesuit priests) decided to take matters into their own hands. In what became known as the Bye Plot, the priests William Watson and William Clark planned to kidnap James and hold him in the Tower of London until he agreed to be more tolerant towards Catholics. Salisbury received news of the plot from several sources, including the Archpriest George Blackwell, who instructed his priests to have no part in any such schemes. At about the same time, Lord Cobham, Lord Grey de Wilton, Lord Markham, and Walter Ralegh, hatched what became known as the Main Plot, which involved removing James and his family and supplanting them with Arbella Stuart. Amongst others, they approached Henry IV of France for funding, but were unsuccessful. All those involved in both plots were arrested in July and tried in the autumn; Sir George Brooke was executed, but James, keen not to have too bloody a start to his reign, reprieved Cobham, Grey, and Markham, while they were at the scaffold. Ralegh, who had watched while his colleagues sweated, and who was due to be executed a few days later, was also pardoned. Stuart denied any knowledge of the Main Plot. The two priests, condemned by the pope, and "very bloodily handled", were executed.[30]

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.[31]

Plot

A full length portrait of a young girl wearing a large pale dress, with tight jewelled bodice, and long sleeves. She has brown hair, and wears a tiara. In her left hand she holds a fan. Behind her, a small river runs underneath a bridge, in a small glade filled with trees.
The conspirators planned to install the King's daughter Princess Elizabeth 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.[32] Another important objective was the kidnapping of the King's daughter, third in the line of succession, Princess Elizabeth. Housed at Coombe Abbey near Coventry, the Princess lived only ten miles north of Warwick—convenient for the plotters, most of whom lived in the Midlands. Once the King and his Parliament were dead, the plotters intended to install Elizabeth on the English throne as a titular Queen. The fate of Princes Henry and Charles would be improvised; their role in state ceremonies was, as yet, uncertain. The plotters planned to use Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, as Elizabeth's Protector, but most likely never informed him of this.[33]

Initial recruitment

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 over £6 million as of 2008), to afford which he was forced to sell his estate in Chastleton.[nb 6][26][34][35] 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 for the mission to Spain, but the Spanish king, although sympathetic to the plight of Catholics in England, was intent on making peace with James I.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38]

According to contemporary accounts,[nb 7] 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 the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament.[35] Wintour was known as a competent scholar, able to speak several languages, and he had fought with the English army in the Netherlands.[39] His uncle, Francis Ingleby, had been executed for being a Catholic priest in 1586, and Wintour later converted to Catholicism.[40] Also present at the meeting was John Wright, a devout Catholic said to be one of the best swordsmen of his day, and a man who had taken part with Catesby in the Earl of Essex's rebellion three years earlier.[41] Despite his reservations over the possible repercussions should the attempt fail, Wintour agreed to join the conspiracy, perhaps persuaded by Catesby's rhetoric: "Let us give the attempt and where it faileth, pass no further."[35]

Wintour travelled to Flanders to enquire about Spanish support. While there he sought out Guy Fawkes (1570–1606), a devout 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.[42] Accompanied by Christopher Wright, 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.[43][44] 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 in the Low Countries. At some point during Northumberland's command in the Low Countries, Percy became his agent in his communications with James.[45] Percy was reputedly a "serious" character who had converted to the Catholic faith. His early years were, according to a Catholic source, marked by a tendency to rely on "his sword and personal courage".[46][47] Northumberland, although not a Catholic himself, planned to build a strong relationship with James in order to better the prospects of English Catholics, and to reduce the family disgrace caused by his separation from his wife Martha Wright, a favourite of Elizabeth. Thomas Percy's meetings with James seemed to go well. Percy returned with promises of support for the Catholics, and Northumberland believed that James would go so far as allowing Mass in private houses, so as not to cause public offence. Percy however, keen to improve his standing, went further—claiming that the future King would guarantee the safety of English Catholics.[48]

Initial planning

A monochrome sketch of eight men, in 17th-century dress. All have beards, and all appear to be engaged in discussion
A contemporary sketch 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.[49] 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.[50]

Further recruitment

Following their oath, the plotters left London and returned to their homes. The adjournment of Parliament gave them, they thought, until February 1605 to finalise their plans. On 9 June Percy was appointed a Gentleman Pensioner—one of a mounted troop of fifty bodyguards to the king—by his patron, the Earl of Northumberland. This role gave Percy reason to seek a base in London, and a small property near the Prince's Chamber—in the possession of Henry Ferrers, a tenant of John Whynniard—was chosen. Percy arranged for the use of the house on 24 May 1604, through Northumberland's agents, Dudley Carleton and John Hippesley. Fawkes, using the pseudonym "John Johnson", took charge of the building, posing as Percy's servant.[51] The building was occupied by Scottish commissioners appointed by the King to consider his plans for the unification of England and Scotland, so the plotters hired Catesby's lodgings in Lambeth, on the opposite bank of the Thames, from which their stored gunpowder and other supplies could be conveniently rowed across each night.[52] Meanwhile, King James continued his policies against the Catholics, and Parliament pushed through anti-Catholic legislation, until it was adjourned on 7 July.[53]

The medieval House of Lords was part of a complex of buildings alongside the north bank of the River Thames, in London. The building which the plotters planned to destroy was at the southern end of the complex of Parliamentary buildings, alongside a minor alley that led to a staircase known as Parliament Stairs.
The House of Lords is highlighted in red on John Rocque's 1746 map of London, in an area now occupied by the Palace of Westminster
A monochrome illustration of several short buildings clustered in a small space. A yard in the foreground is filled with detritus.
An early 19th-century illustration of the east end of the Prince's Chamber (extreme left) and the east wall of the House of Lords (centre)

The conspirators returned to London in October 1604, when Robert Keyes, a "desperate man, ruined and indebted" was admitted to the group.[54] His responsibility was to take charge of Catesby's house in Lambeth, where the gunpowder and other supplies were to be stored. Tall, with a red beard, he was seen as trustworthy and, like Fawkes, capable of looking after himself. His family had notable Catholic connections, and Keyes was particularly worried about the safety of Lord Mordaunt, his wife's employer, while at Parliament. In December[nb 8] Catesby recruited his servant, Thomas Bates, into the plot,[55] after the latter accidentally became aware of it.[54]

On 24 December it was announced 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 story may have been a government fabrication; 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,[43] 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.[56] If the story is true however, 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.[57]

By the time the plotters reconvened at the start of the old style new year on 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 Worcester, and was reputedly a generous and well-liked man. A devout Catholic, he married Gertrude Talbot, who was from a family of recusants.[40] Christopher Wright (1568–1605), John's brother, had also taken part in the Earl of Essex's revolt and had moved his family to Twigmore in Lincolnshire, then known as something of a haven for priests.[58][59] John Grant was married to Wintour's sister, Dorothy, and was lord of the manor of Norbrook near Stratford-upon-Avon. Reputed to be an intelligent, thoughtful man, he also sheltered Catholics at his home at Snitterfield, and was another who had been involved in the Essex revolt of 1601.[60][61]

Undercroft

The plotters purchased the lease to an undercroft belonging to John Whynniard. The Palace of Westminster in the early 17th century was a warren of buildings clustered around the medieval chambers, chapels, and halls of the former royal palace that housed both Parliament and the various royal law courts. The old palace was easily accessible; merchants, lawyers, and others, lived and worked in the lodgings, shops, and taverns within its precincts. Whynniard's building was along a right-angle to the House of Lords, alongside a passageway called Parliament Place, which itself led to Parliament Stairs and the River Thames. Undercrofts were common features at the time, used to house a variety of materials including food and firewood. Whynniard's undercroft, on the ground floor, was directly beneath the first-floor House of Lords, and may once have been part of the palace's medieval kitchen. Unused and filthy, it was considered an ideal hiding place for the gunpowder the plotters planned to store there.[62]

The medieval complex of Parliamentary buildings was mapped by William Capon around the turn of the 18th century. This image shows a plan view of the ground floor levels, where each building is clearly described in text. Reference is made in the House of Lords undercroft, to Guy Fawkes.
William Capon's map of Parliament clearly labels the undercroft used to store the gunpowder, with the homonym Guy Vaux.
A monochrome illustration of a stone and brick-walled room. An open doorway is to the right. The left wall contains equally spaced arches. The right wall is dominated by a large brick arch. Three arches form the third wall, in the distance. The floor and ceiling is interrupted by regularly spaced hexagonal wooden posts. The ceiling is spaced by wooden beams.
The undercroft beneath the House of Lords, as illustrated in 1799. At about the same time it was described as 77 feet long, 24 feet and 4 inches wide, and 10 feet high.[63]

In the second week of June Catesby met in London the principal Jesuit in England, Father Henry Garnet, and asked him about the morality of entering into an undertaking which might involve the destruction of the innocent, together with the guilty. Garnet answered that such actions could often be excused, but according to his own account later admonished Catesby during a second meeting in July in Essex, showing him a letter from the pope which forbade rebellion. Soon after, the Jesuit priest Oswald Tesimond told Garnet he had taken Catesby's confession,[nb 9] in the course of which he had learned of the plot. Garnet and Catesby met for a third time on 24 July 1605, at the house of the wealthy Jesuit Anne Vaux in Enfield Chase.[nb 10] Garnet decided that Tesimond's account had been given under the seal of the confessional, and that canon law therefore forbade him to repeat what he had heard.[66] Without acknowledging that he was aware of the precise nature of the plot, Garnet attempted to dissuade Catesby from his course, to no avail.[67] Garnet wrote to a colleague in Rome, Claudio Acquaviva, expressing his concerns about open rebellion in England. He also told Acquaviva that "there is a risk that some private endeavour may commit treason or use force against the King", and urged the pope to issue a public brief against the use of force.[68]

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.[69][nb 11] On 28 July however, 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.[70]

The final three conspirators were recruited in late 1605. At Michaelmas, Catesby persuaded the staunchly Catholic Ambrose Rookwood to rent Clopton House near Stratford-upon-Avon. Rookwood was a young man with recusant connections, whose stable of horses at Coldham in Cambridgeshire was an important factor in his enlistment. His parents, Robert Rookwood and Dorothea Drury, were wealthy landowners, and had educated their son at a Jesuit school near Calais. On 14 October Catesby invited Francis Tresham into the conspiracy.[71] Tresham was the son of the Catholic Thomas Tresham, and a cousin to Robert Catesby—the two had been raised together.[72] He was also the heir to his father's large fortune, which had been depleted by recusant fines, expensive tastes, and by Francis and Catesby's involvement in the Essex revolt.[nb 12][73]

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.[74]

Everard Digby was a young man who was generally well-liked, and lived at Gayhurst House in Buckinghamshire. He had been knighted by the King in April 1603, and was converted to Catholicism by Gerard. Digby and his wife, Mary Mulshaw, had accompanied the priest on his pilgrimage, and the two men were reportedly close friends. Digby was an accomplished equestrian, and was asked by Catesby to rent Coughton Court near Alcester.[75][76] Digby also promised £1,500 after Percy failed to pay the rent due for the properties he had taken in Westminster.[77]

Monteagle letter

A damaged and aged piece of paper, or parchment, with multiple lines of handwritten English text.
An anonymous letter, sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, was instrumental in revealing the existence of the plot. Its author has never been reliably established. Francis Tresham has long been a suspect. Monteagle himself has been considered responsible,[78] as has Salisbury.[79]

The details of the plot were finalised in October, in a series of taverns across London and Daventry.[nb 13] Fawkes would be left to light the fuse and then escape across the Thames, while simultaneously a revolt in the Midlands would help to ensure the capture of Princess Elizabeth. Fawkes would leave for the continent, to explain events in England to the European Catholic powers.[81]

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.[82] 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.[83] 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, to derision from Catesby.[84]

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 [county] 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.[81]

Uncertain of the letter's meaning, Monteagle promptly rode to Whitehall and handed it to Salisbury.[85] Salisbury informed the Earl of Worcester, considered to have recusant sympathies, and the suspected papist Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton, but kept news of the plot from the King, who was busy hunting in Cambridgeshire and not expected back for several days. Monteagle's servant, Thomas Ward, had family connections with the Wright brothers, and sent a message to Catesby about the betrayal. Catesby, who had been due to go hunting with the King, suspected that Tresham was responsible for the letter, and with Thomas Wintour confronted the recently recruited conspirator. Tresham managed to convince the pair that he had not written the letter, but urged them to abandon the plot.[86] Salisbury was already aware of certain stirrings before he received the letter, but did not yet know the exact nature of the plot, or who exactly was involved. He therefore elected to wait, to see how events unfolded.[87]

Discovery

The letter was shown to the King on Friday 1 November. James felt that it hinted at "some strategem of fire and powder",[88] perhaps an explosion exceeding in violence the one that killed his father, Lord Darnley, at Kirk o' Field in 1567.[89] Keen not to seem too intriguing, Salisbury feigned ignorance.[90] The following day members of the Privy Council visited the King at the Palace of Whitehall and informed him that, based on the information that Salisbury had given them a week earlier, on Monday the Lord Chamberlain Lord Suffolk would undertake a search of the Houses of Parliament, "both above and below". On Sunday 3 November Percy, Catesby and Wintour had a final meeting, where Percy told his colleages that they should "abide the uttermost triall", and reminded them of their ship waiting at anchor on the Thames.[91] By 4 November Digby was ensconced with a "hunting party" at Dunchurch, ready to abduct Princess Elizabeth.[92] The same day, Percy visited the Earl of Northumberland—who was innocent of the conspiracy—to see if he could discern what rumours abounded regarding the letter to Monteagle. Percy returned to London and assured Wintour, John Wright, and Robert Keyes that they had nothing to be concerned about, and returned to his lodgings on Gray's Inn Road. That same evening Catesby, John Wright, and Bates set off for the Midlands. Fawkes visited Keyes, and left with a pocket watch, to time the fuse, and an hour later Rookwood received several engraved swords from a local cutler.[93]

In a stone-walled room, several armed men physically restrain another man, who is drawing his sword.
Guy Fawkes was discovered in the undercroft beneath the House of Lords shortly after midnight on 5 November 1605

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 King insisted that a more thorough search be undertaken. Late that night, the search party, headed by Thomas Knyvet, returned to the undercroft. There they came across Fawkes once more, who was dressed in a cloak and hat, and wearing boots and spurs. Fawkes, when arrested, gave his name as John Johnson—servant to Thomas Percy. He was carrying a lantern now held in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford,[94] and a search of his person revealed a pocket watch, matches, and touchwood.[95] The barrels of gunpowder were discovered hidden under piles of faggots and coal.[96] Fawkes was taken to the King early on the morning of 5 November.[97]

Flight

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. They met with Christopher Wright, and 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.[nb 14][98]

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 [sic][99]

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 ploy'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.[98]

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.[100] 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.[nb 15] 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".[102]

Investigation

A rectangular metal frame with two wooden planks crossing its width. Spaced equally along the frame are three large wooden rollers. Attached to the rollers at each end are ropes, designed to act as restraints. The entire contraption is covered with a sheet of clear plastic, upon which is sketched the outline of a man, his wrists and ankles 'through' the rope restraints. The centre roller has a large wooden lever—turning this lever would pull the other two rollers in opposite directions.
A torture rack in the Tower of London

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 learnt the names of several of those involved in the conspiracy: Catesby, Rookwood, Keyes, Wynter [sic], John and Christopher Wright, and Grant. "Johnson" meanwhile persisted with his story, and along with the gunpowder he was found with,[nb 16] was moved to the Tower of London, where the King had decided that "Johnson" would be tortured.[103] The use of torture was forbidden, except by royal prerogative or a body such as the Privy Council or Star Chamber.[104] In a letter of 6 November James wrote: "The gentler tortours [tortures] are to be first used unto him, et sic per gradus ad ima tenditur [and thus by steps extended to greater ones], and so God speed your good work."[105] "Johnson" may have been placed in manacles and hung from the wall, but he was almost certainly subjected to the horrors of the rack. On 7 November his resolve was broken; he confessed late that day, and again over the following two days.[106][107]

Last stand

On 6 November, with Fawkes maintaining his silence, the fugitives raided Warwick Castle for supplies and continued to Norbrook 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 Staffordshire, the home of Stephen Littleton, a member of their ever-decreasing band of followers. Tired and desperate, they spread out some of the now-soaked gunpowder in front of the fire, to dry out. Although gunpowder does not explode (unless physically contained), a spark from the fire landed on the powder and the resultant flames engulfed Catesby, Rookwood, Grant, and a man named Morgan (a member of the hunting party).[108]

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, John Wintour, and Thomas Bates, had all left. Of the plotters, only the singed figures of Catesby and Grant, and the Wright brothers and Percy, remained. The fugitives resolved to stay in the house and wait for the arrival of the King's men.[109]

Richard Walsh (Sheriff of Worcester) 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 the same shot. The attackers rushed the property, and stripped the dead or dying defenders of their clothing. Grant, Morgan, Rookwood, and Wintour were arrested.[109]

Reaction

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.[110] 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 taken to London for interrogation. There she was resolute; she had never been aware that Gerard was a priest, she had presumed he was a "Catholic gentleman", and she did not know of his whereabouts. The homes of the conspirators were searched, and looted. The home of Mary Digby was ransacked, and she was made destitute.[111] Some time before the end of November, Garnet moved to Hindlip Hall near Worcester, the home of the Habingtons, where he wrote a letter to the Privy Council protesting his innocence.[112]

A three-quarter portrait of a white man, dressed entirely in black with a white lace ruff. He has brown hair, a short beard, and a neutral expression. His left hand cradles a necklace he is wearing. His right hand rests on the corner of a desk, upon which are notes, a bell, and a cloth carrying a crest. Latin text on the painting reads "Sero, Sed, Serio".
Robert Cecil,
1st Earl of Salisbury.
Painting by John de Critz the Elder, 1602.

The foiling of the Gunpowder Plot initiated a wave of national relief at the delivery of the King and his sons, and inspired in the ensuing parliament a mood of loyalty and goodwill, which Salisbury astutely exploited to extract higher subsidies for the King than any (bar one) granted in Elizabeth's reign.[113] Walter Ralegh, languishing in the Tower due to his involvement in the Main Plot, and whose wife was a first cousin of Lady Catesby, declared he had no knowledge of the conspiracy.[114] The Bishop of Rochester gave a sermon at St. Paul's Cross, in which he condemned the plot.[115] In his speech to both Houses on 9 November, James expounded on two emerging preoccupations of his monarchy: the Divine Right of Kings and the Catholic question. He insisted that the plot had been the work of only a few Catholics, not of the English Catholics as a whole,[nb 17] and he reminded the assembly to rejoice at his survival, since kings were divinely appointed and he owed his escape to a miracle.[117] Salisbury wrote to his English ambassadors abroad, informing them of what had occurred, and also reminding them that the King bore no ill will to his Catholic neighbours. The foreign powers largely distanced themselves from the plotters, calling them atheists and Protestant heretics.[115]

Interrogations

Sir Edward Coke (pronounced "Cook") was in charge of the interrogations. Over a period of about ten weeks, in the Lieutenant's Lodgings at the Tower of London (now known as the Queen's House) he questioned those who had been implicated in the plot. For the first round of interrogations, no real proof exists that these people were tortured, although on several occasions Salisbury certainly suggested that they should be. Coke later revealed that the threat of torture was in most cases enough to solicit a confession from those caught up in the aftermath of the plot.[118]

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's information was extremely valuable to the Privy Council. The handwriting on his testimony is almost certainly that of the man himself, but his signature was however, 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.[119] 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 November 1605.[43][120]

A small irregular section of parchment upon which several lines of handwritten text are visible. Several elaborate signatures bookend the text, at the bottom.
Part of a confession by Guy Fawkes. His weak signature, after days of torture, is faintly visible under the word "good"(lower right).

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was in a difficult position. His midday dinner with Thomas Percy on 4 November was damning evidence against him,[121] 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 £4.3 million as of 2010), and kept in the Tower until June 1621.[122] 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.[123]

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.[124] Agnes Wenman was from a Catholic family, and related to Elizabeth Vaux.[nb 18] She was examined twice but the charges against her were eventually dropped.[126] 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.[127]

Jesuits

A monochrome illustration of a large medieval building, with many windows, turrets, and chimneys. Sculpted bushes surround the house, which is surrounded by fields and trees.
Hindlip Hall in Worcestershire. The building was destroyed by fire in 1820.

Thomas Bates confessed on 4 December, and provided much of the information that Salisbury needed to link the Catholic clergy to the plot. He had been present at most of the meetings, and while being interrogated 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 London Bridge, and his estates confiscated.[128][129][130]

On 15 January a proclamation named Father Garnet, Father Gerard, and Father Greenway (Tesimond) as wanted men. Tesimond and Gerard[131] 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 home of Humphrey Littleton (brother of MP John Littleton, imprisoned for treason in 1601 for his part in the Essex revolt)[132] 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.[133] 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 Prestwood in Staffordshire before he was captured. He was imprisoned, and then condemned to death at Worcester. On 26 January, in exchange for his life, he told the authorities where they could find Father Garnet. Worn down by hiding for so long, Garnet, accompanied by another priest, emerged from his priest hole the next day.[134]

Trials

A three-quarter portrait of a white man, dressed entirely in black with a white lace ruff. He has brown hair, a short beard and moustache, and a neutral expression. Latin text surrounds the image.
Edward Coke conducted the interrogations of those thought to be involved with the conspiracy.

By coincidence, on the same day that Garnet was found, the surviving conspirators were arraigned in Westminster Hall. Seven of the prisoners were brought to Star Chamber by barge, from the Tower. Bates, who was considered lower class, was brought from the gatehouse of Westminster. 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 Suffolk, Worcester, Northampton, Devonshire, and Salisbury. Sir John Popham was Lord Chief Justice, Sir Thomas Fleming was Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and two Justices, Sir Thomas Walmsley and Sir Peter Warburton, sat as Justices of the Common Pleas. The list of traitors' names was read aloud, beginning with those of the priests: Garnet, Tesimond, and Gerard.[135][136]

A half-length portrait of a middle-aged man wearing a dark gown and a white collar. He has a short beard and his hair is thin. The top left corner of the image is illustrated by a piece of straw, with a miniature image of his face superimposed, to which the man points.
The Jesuit priest, Henry Garnet

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.[136] He was followed by the Attorney-General Sir Edward Coke, who began with a long speech—the content of which was heavily influenced by Salisbury—that included a denial that the King had ever made any promises to the Catholics. Monteagle's part in the discovery of the plot was welcomed, and denouncements of the 1603 mission to Spain featured strongly. Fawkes's protestations that Gerard knew nothing of the plot were omitted from Coke's speech. The foreign powers, when mentioned, were accorded due respect, but the priests were accursed, their behaviour analysed and criticised wherever possible. There was little doubt, according to Coke, that the plot had been invented by the Jesuits. Garnet's meeting with Catesby, at which the former was said to have absolved the latter of any blame in the plot, was proof enough that the Jesuits were central to the conspiracy. Coke spoke with feeling of the probable fate of the Queen and the rest of the King's family, and of the innocents who would have been caught up in the explosion.[137]

I never yet knew a treason without a Romish priest; but in this there are very many Jesuits, who are known to have dealt and passed through the whole action.

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".[137] 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".[138] Only Digby, tried on a separate indictment,[136] 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.[139] 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."[140][141]

Garnet may have been questioned on as many as 23 occasions. His response to the threat of the rack was "Minare ista pueris [Threats are only for boys]",[nb 19] 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.[142] 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 fellow Jesuit Oswald Tesimond, who had learned of it in confession from Catesby.[143] Garnet was charged with high treason and tried in the Guildhall on 28 March, in a trial lasting from 8 am until 7 pm.[144] According to Coke, Garnet instigated the plot: "[Garnet] hath many gifts and endowments of nature, by art learned, a good linguist and, by profession, a Jesuit and a Superior as indeed he is Superior to all his predecessors in devilish treason, a Doctor of Dissimulation, Deposing of Princes, Disposing of Kingdoms, Daunting and deterring of subjects, and Destruction." Garnet refuted all the charges against him, and explained the Catholic position on such matters, but he was nevertheless found guilty and sentenced to death.[112]

Executions

A monochrome illustration of a busy urban scene. Medieval buildings surround an open space, in which several men are being dragged by horses. One man hangs from a scaffold. A corpse is being hacked into pieces. Another man is feeding a large cauldron with a dismembered leg. Thousands of people line the streets and look from windows. Children and dogs run freely. Soldiers keep them back.
Print of members of the Gunpowder Plot being hanged, drawn, and quartered

Although Catesby and Percy escaped the executioner, their bodies were exhumed and decapitated, and their heads exhibited on spikes outside the House of Lords.[110] On a cold 30 January, Everard Digby, Robert Wintour, John Grant, and Thomas Bates, were tied to hurdles—wooden panels[145]—and dragged through the crowded streets of London to St Paul's Churchyard. Digby, the first to mount the scaffold, asked the spectators for forgiveness, and refused the attentions of a Protestant clergyman. He was stripped of his clothing, and wearing only a shirt, climbed the ladder to place his head through the noose. He was quickly cut down, and while still fully conscious was castrated, disembowelled, and then quartered, along with the three other prisoners.[146] The following day, Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rookwood, Robert Keyes, and Guy Fawkes were hanged, drawn, and quartered, opposite the building they had planned to blow up, in the Old Palace Yard at Westminster.[147] Keyes did not wait for the hangman's command and jumped from the gallows, but he survived the drop and was led to the quartering block. Fawkes, although weakened by his torture, managed to jump from the gallows and break his neck, thus avoiding the gruesome latter part of his execution.[148][149]

Steven Littleton was executed at Stafford. His cousin Humphrey, despite his cooperation with the authorities, met his end at Red Hill near Worcester.[150] Henry Garnet's execution took place on 3 May 1606, but unlike the conspirators, he was not drawn and quartered. On the King's express instructions, Garnet was left hanging from the gallows until he was dead.[151]

Aftermath

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 could only force Parliament in one direction—greater intolerance of Catholics. New anti-Catholic legislation was soon considered; in the summer of 1606, laws against recusancy were strengthened. The Popish Recusants Act returned England to the Elizabethan system of fines and restrictions; it included a sacramental test, and a new Oath of Allegiance,[152] requiring Catholics to abjure as a "heresy" the doctrine that "princes excommunicated by the Pope could be deposed or assassinated".[13] Catholic Emancipation took another 200 years, but many important and loyal Catholics retained high office during King James I's reign.[153] Although there was no "golden time" of "toleration" of Catholics, which Father Garnet had hoped for, James's reign was nevertheless a period of relative leniency for Catholics, and few were subject to prosecution.[154]

The playwright William Shakespeare had already used the family history of Northumberland's family in his Henry IV series of plays, and the events of the Gunpowder Plot seem to have featured alongside the earlier Gowrie conspiracy in Macbeth, written some time between 1603 and 1607.[155] Interest in the demonic was heightened by the Gunpowder Plot. The King had become engaged in the great debate about other-worldly powers in writing his Daemonology in 1597, before he became King of England as well as Scotland. Inversions seen in such lines as "fair is foul and foul is fair" are used frequently, and another possible reference to the plot relates to the use of equivocation; Garnett’s A Treatise of Equivocation was found on one of the plotters.[156]

Faith, here's an equivocator, that could
Swear in both the scales against either scale;
Who committed treason enough for God's sake,
Yet could not equivocate to heaven

Macbeth, Act 2 Scene 3

The Gunpowder Plot was commemorated for years by special sermons and other public acts, such as the ringing of church bells. It added to an increasingly full calendar of Protestant celebrations that contributed to the national and religious life of 17th-century England,[157] and has evolved into the Bonfire Night of today. In What If the Gunpowder Plot Had Succeeded? historian Ronald Hutton considered the events which might have followed a successful implementation of the plot, and the destruction of the House of Lords and all those within it. He concluded that a severe backlash against suspected Catholics would have followed, and that without foreign assistance a successful rebellion would have been unlikely; despite differing religious convictions, most Englishmen were loyal to the institution of the monarchy. England might have become a more "Puritan absolute monarchy", as "existed in Sweden, Denmark, Saxony, and Prussia in the seventeenth century", rather than following the path of parliamentary and civil reform that it did.[158]

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.[154] The Popish Plot of 1678 sparked renewed interest in the Gunpowder Plot, resulting in a book by Thomas Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln, that refuted "a bold and groundless surmise that all this was a contrivance of Secretary Cecil".[159]

In 1897 Father John Gerard of Stonyhurst College, namesake of John Gerard (who, following the plot's discovery, had evaded capture), wrote an account called What was the Gunpowder Plot?, alleging Salisbury's culpability.[160] This prompted a refutation later that year by Samuel Gardiner, who argued that Gerard had gone too far in trying to "wipe away the reproach" which the plot had exacted on generations of English Catholics.[161] Gardiner portrayed Salisbury as guilty of nothing more than opportunism. Subsequent attempts to prove Salisbury's involvement, such as Francis Edwards's 1969 work Guy Fawkes: the real story of the gunpowder plot?, have similarly foundered on the lack of any clear evidence.[162]

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, although now retained as a picturesque custom rather than as a serious anti-terrorism precaution.[159]

Bonfire Night

A night-time photograph of a blazing fire is silhouetted by dark figures.
Bonfires are lit in Britain every 5th of November to commemorate the plot.

In January 1606, during the first sitting of Parliament since the plot, a "Thanksgiving Act" was passed, making services and sermons commemorating the event an annual feature of English life;[163] the act remained in force until 1859.[164] 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.[163] In Britain, the 5th of November is variously called Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night, or Guy Fawkes Night.[164]

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 formed from old clothes stuffed with newspaper, and equipped with a grotesque mask, to be burnt on the 5 November bonfire. These effigies were exhibited in the street, to collect money for fireworks, although this practice has become less common.[165] The word guy came thus in the 19th century to mean an oddly dressed person, and hence in the 20th and 21st centuries to mean any male person.[164]

November the 5th firework displays and bonfire parties are common throughout Britain, in major public displays and in private gardens.[164] 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 Lewes.

According to the biographer Esther Forbes, the Guy Fawkes Day celebration in the pre-revolutionary American colonies was a very popular holiday. In Boston, the revelry took on anti-authoritarian overtones, and often became so dangerous that many would not venture out of their homes.[166]

Reconstructing the explosion

Viewed from a distance, with a telephoto lens, a large explosion is captured in its early stages. In the foreground, assorted building materials are visible. In the background, a hillside is partially covered by a forest.
A photograph of the explosion, moments after detonation

In the 2005 ITV programme The Gunpowder Plot: Exploding The Legend, a full-size replica of the House of Lords was built and destroyed with barrels of gunpowder. The experiment was conducted on the Advantica Spadeadam test site, and demonstrated that the explosion, if the gunpowder was in good order, would have killed all those in the building.[167] The power of the explosion was such that the 7-foot (2.1 m) deep concrete walls (replicating how archives suggest the walls of the old House of Lords were constructed) were reduced to rubble. Measuring devices placed in the chamber to calculate the force of the blast were themselves destroyed by the explosion; the skull of the dummy representing King James, which had been placed on a throne inside the chamber surrounded by courtiers, peers and bishops, was found a considerable distance from the site. According to the findings of the programme, no-one within 330 feet (100 m) of the blast could have survived, and all of the stained glass windows in Westminster Abbey would have been shattered, as would all of the windows in the vicinity of the Palace. The explosion would have been seen from miles away, and heard from further away still. Even if only half of the gunpowder had gone off, everyone in the House of Lords and its environs would have been killed instantly.[167]

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.[168]

Some of the gunpowder guarded by Fawkes may have survived. In March 2002 workers cataloguing archives of diarist John Evelyn at the British Library found a box containing a number of gunpowder samples, including a compressed bar with a note in Evelyn's handwriting stating that it had belonged to Guy Fawkes. A further note, written in the 19th century, confirmed this provenance, but in 1952 the document acquired a new comment: "but there was none left".[169]

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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".[2]
  3. ^ The heir presumptive under the terms of Henry VIII's Will, i.e., either 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.
  4. ^ Historians are divided on when and if Anne converted to Catholicism. "Some time in the 1590s, Anne became a Roman Catholic."[16] "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".[17] "... 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".[18] "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."[19] "In 1602 a report appeared, claiming that Anne ... had converted to the Catholic faith some years before. The author, the Scottish Jesuit Robert Abercromby, testified that James had received his wife's desertion with equanimity, commenting, 'Well, wife, if you cannot live without this sort of thing, do your best to keep things as quiet as possible'. Anne would, indeed, keep her religious beliefs as quiet as possible: for the remainder of her life—even after her death—they remained obfuscated."[20]
  5. ^ Comparing relative purchasing power of £5,000 in 1605 with 2008.
  6. ^ Comparing relative average earnings of £3,000 in 1601 with 2008.
  7. ^ Some of the information in these accounts would have been given under pain or threat of torture, and may also have been subject to government interference, and should therefore be viewed with caution.
  8. ^ According to his confession.
  9. ^ Haynes (2005) writes that Tesimond took Thomas Bates' confession.[64]
  10. ^ Anne Vaux was related to Catesby, and to most of the other plotters. Her home was often used to hide priests.[65]
  11. ^ Gunpowder could be purchased on the black market from soldiers, militia, merchant vessels, and powdermills.[69]
  12. ^ Thomas Tresham had paid Francis's fine in full and part of Catesby's fine.
  13. ^ The playwright Ben Jonson was present at one of these parties, and following the discovery of the plot was forced to work hard at distancing himself from the conspirators.[80]
  14. ^ Robert Wintour inherited Huddington Court near Worcester, along with a small fortune. The building became a refuge for priests, and secret Masses were often celebrated there.[40]
  15. ^ As King James put it, Fawkes intended the destruction "not only ... of my person, nor of my wife and posterity also, but of the whole body of the State in general".[101]
  16. ^ The gunpowder was moved to the Tower of London, where it was described as "decayed".[100]
  17. ^ James said that it did not follow "that all professing that Romish religion were guilty of the same".[116]
  18. ^ Vaux had written a letter to Wenman regarding the marriage of her son Edward Vaux. The letter contained certain phrases which were open to interpretation, and was intercepted by Richard Wenman, who thought it suspicious.[125]
  19. ^ Haynes (2005) appears to have misspelt this as Minute ista pueris.
Footnotes
  1. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 12
  2. ^ Willson 1963, p. 154
  3. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 15
  4. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. xxv–xxvi
  5. ^ Fraser 2005, p. xxv
  6. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. xxvii–xxix
  7. ^ a b Fraser 2005, p. 91
  8. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 70–74
  9. ^ Brice 1994, p. 88
  10. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 46
  11. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. xxx–xxxi
  12. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 7
  13. ^ a b Marshall 2006, p. 227
  14. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, pp. 32–33
  15. ^ Marshall 2006, p. 228
  16. ^ Willson 1963, p. 95
  17. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 15
  18. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 36
  19. ^ Stewart 2003, p. 182
  20. ^ Hogge 2005, pp. 303–4
  21. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 41–42
  22. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 100–103
  23. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 103–106
  24. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 8
  25. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 34
  26. ^ a b Officer, Lawrence H. (2009), Purchasing Power of British Pounds from 1264 to Presen, MeasuringWorth, http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/index.php, retrieved 3 December 2009 
  27. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 33
  28. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 106–107
  29. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 108
  30. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 32–39
  31. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 76–78
  32. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 46
  33. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 140–142
  34. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 47
  35. ^ a b c Northcote Parkinson 1976, pp. 44–46
  36. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, pp. 45–46
  37. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 93
  38. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 90
  39. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 50
  40. ^ a b c Fraser 2005, pp. 59–61
  41. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 58
  42. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 84–89
  43. ^ a b c Nicholls, Mark (2004), "Winter, Thomas (c. 1571–1606)" (subscription required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29767, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29767, retrieved 16 November 2009 
  44. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, pp. 46–47
  45. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 47–48
  46. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 49
  47. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 50
  48. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 50–52
  49. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 48
  50. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 120
  51. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 52
  52. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 54–55
  53. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 122–124
  54. ^ a b Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 96
  55. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 130–132
  56. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 133–134
  57. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 55–59
  58. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 56–57
  59. ^ Nelthorpe, Sutton (8 November–December 1935), Twigmore and the Gunpowder Plot, 8, Lincolnshire Magazine, p. 229 
  60. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 136–137
  61. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 57
  62. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 144–145
  63. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 59
  64. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 62
  65. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 65–66
  66. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 62–65
  67. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 65–67
  68. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 158
  69. ^ a b Fraser 2005, pp. 146–147
  70. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 159–162
  71. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 171–173
  72. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 110
  73. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 79–80, p. 110
  74. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 173–175
  75. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 159–162, pp. 168–169
  76. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 175–176
  77. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 80
  78. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 182–185
  79. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 85–86
  80. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 179
  81. ^ a b Fraser 2005, pp. 178–179
  82. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 78–79
  83. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, pp. 62–63
  84. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 82
  85. ^ Haynes 1999, p. 89
  86. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 180–182
  87. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 187–189
  88. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 70
  89. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 90
  90. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 193–194
  91. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 92
  92. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 196–197
  93. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 199–201
  94. ^ Guy Fawkes's Lantern (exhibit), Tradescant Gallery, Gallery 27, First Floor, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University, UK: ashweb2.ashmus.ox.ac.uk, http://ashweb2.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/ash/objectofmonth/2002-11/theobject.htm, retrieved 20 November 2009 
  95. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 201–203
  96. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 73
  97. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 94–95
  98. ^ a b Fraser 2005, pp. 203–206
  99. ^ Nichols 1828, p. 584
  100. ^ a b Fraser 2005, p. 226
  101. ^ Stewart 2003, p. 219
  102. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 207–209
  103. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 211–212
  104. ^ Scott 1940, p. 87
  105. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 215
  106. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 216–217
  107. ^ Scott 1940, p. 89
  108. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 218–222
  109. ^ a b Fraser 2005, pp. 222–225
  110. ^ a b Fraser 2005, pp. 235–236
  111. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 237–241
  112. ^ a b McCoog, Thomas M. (2004-09), "Garnett, Henry (1555–1606)" (subscription required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/10389, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/10389, retrieved 16 November 2009 
  113. ^ Croft 2003, p. 64
  114. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 228
  115. ^ a b Fraser 2005, pp. 232–233
  116. ^ Stewart 2003, p. 225
  117. ^ Willson 1963, p. 226
  118. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 241–244
  119. ^ Haynes 1999, p. 106
  120. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 242–245
  121. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 93
  122. ^ Nicholls, Mark (2004), "Percy, Henry, ninth earl of Northumberland (1564–1632)" (subscription required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/21939, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/21939, retrieved 16 November 2009 
  123. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 333
  124. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 125–126
  125. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 151–152
  126. ^ Griffiths, Jane (2004), "Wenman , Agnes, Lady Wenman (d. 1617)" (subscription required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29044, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29044, retrieved 16 November 2009 
  127. ^ Reeve, L. J. (2004), "Carleton, Dudley, Viscount Dorchester (1574–1632)" (subscription required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/4670, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4670, retrieved 16 November 2009 
  128. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 249
  129. ^ Nicholls, Mark (2004), "Tresham, Francis (1567?–1605)" (subscription required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27708, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/27708, retrieved 16 November 2009 
  130. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 104
  131. ^ McCoog, Thomas M. (2004), "Gerard, John (1564–1637)" (subscription required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/10556, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/10556, retrieved 20 November 2009 
  132. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 79
  133. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 255–256
  134. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 256–257, p. 260, p. 261
  135. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 263–265
  136. ^ a b c d Haynes 2005, pp. 110–111
  137. ^ a b Fraser 2005, pp. 266–269
  138. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 270–271
  139. ^ Nicholls, Mark (2004-09), "Digby, Sir Everard (c.1578–1606)" (subscription required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/7626, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/7626, retrieved 16 November 2009 
  140. ^ Fraser 2005, p. 273
  141. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 113
  142. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 116–119
  143. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 103
  144. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 120
  145. ^ Thompson 2008, p. 102
  146. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 115–116
  147. ^ Nicholls, Mark (2004), "Rookwood, Ambrose (c. 1578–1606)" (subscription required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/24066, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/24066, retrieved 16 November 2009 
  148. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, pp. 91–92
  149. ^ Fraser 2005, pp. 279–283
  150. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 129
  151. ^ Northcote Parkinson 1976, pp. 114–115
  152. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 131
  153. ^ Haynes 2005, p. 140
  154. ^ a b Marshall 2003, pp. 187–188
  155. ^ Haynes 2005, pp. 148–154
  156. ^ Huntley, Frank L. (1964-09), "Macbeth and the Background of Jesuitical Equivocation", PMLA (Modern Language Association) 79 (4): 390–400, http://www.jstor.org/stable/460744 
  157. ^ Cressy 1989, p. n/a
  158. ^ Hutton, Ronald (1 April 2001), What If the Gunpowder Plot Had Succeeded?, bbc.co.uk, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/civil_war_revolution/gunpowder_hutton_01.shtml, retrieved 7 November 2008 
  159. ^ a b Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 118
  160. ^ Gerard, John (1897), What was the Gunpowder Plot? : the traditional story tested by original evidence, London: Osgood, McIlvaine & Co 
  161. ^ Gardiner, Samuel (1897), What Gunpowder Plot was, London: Longmans, Green and Co 
  162. ^ Edwards, Francis (1969), Guy Fawkes: the real story of the gunpowder plot?, London: Hart-Davis, ISBN 0246639679 
  163. ^ a b Aftermath: Commemoration, gunpowderplot.parliament.uk, 2005–2006, http://www.gunpowderplot.parliament.uk/adults_plot_ac.htm, retrieved 6 October 2009 
  164. ^ a b c d House of Commons Information Office (2006-09) (PDF), The Gunpowder Plot, parliament.uk, http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/g08.pdf, retrieved 6 March 2007 
  165. ^ Bonfire Night: A penny for the Guy, icons.org.uk, http://www.icons.org.uk/theicons/collection/bonfire-night/features/a-penny-for-the-guy-in-progress, retrieved 6 October 2009 
  166. ^ Forbes 1999, p. 94
  167. ^ a b Sherwin, Adam (31 October 2005), Gunpowder plotters get their wish, 400 years on, timesonline.co.uk, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article584830.ece, retrieved 18 January 2008 
  168. ^ Govan, Fiona (31 October 2005), Guy Fawkes had twice the gunpowder needed, telegraph.co.uk, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1501865/Guy-Fawkes-had-twice-the-gunpowder-needed.html, retrieved 18 January 2008 
  169. ^ Guy Fawkes' gunpowder 'found', news.bbc.co.uk, 21 March 2002, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1886016.stm, retrieved 3 November 2009 
Bibliography

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GUNPOWDER PLOT, the name given to a conspiracy for blowing up King James I. and the parliament on the 5th of November 1605.

To understand clearly the nature and origin of the famous conspiracy, it is necessary to recall the political situation and the attitude of the Roman Catholics towards the government at the accession of James I. The Elizabethan administration had successfully defended its own existence and the Protestant faith against able and powerful antagonists, but this had not been accomplished without enforcing severe measures of repression and punishment upon those of the opposite faith. The beginning of a happier era, however, was expected with the opening of the new reign. The right of James to the crown could be more readily acknowledged by the Romanists than that of Elizabeth: Pope Clement VIII. appeared willing to meet the king half-way. James himself was by nature favourable to the Roman Catholics and had treated the Roman Catholic lords in Scotland with great leniency, in spite of their constant plots and rebellions. Writing to Cecil before his accession he maintained, "am so far from any intention of persecution as I protest to God I reverence their church as our mother church, although clogged with many infirmities and corruptions, besides that I did ever hold persecution as one of the infallible notes of a false church." He declared to Northumberland, the kinsman and master of Thomas Percy, the conspirator, "as for the Catholics, I will neither persecute any that will be quiet and give but an outward obedience to the law, neither will I spare to advance any of them that will be of good service and worthily deserved." It is probable that these small but practical concessions would have satisfied the lay Roman Catholics and the secular priests, but they were very far from contenting the Jesuits, by whom the results of such leniency were especially feared: "What rigour of laws would not compass in so many years," wrote Henry Tichborne, the Jesuit, in 1598, "this liberty and lenity will effectuate in 20 days, to wit the disfurnishing of the seminaries, the disanimating of men to come and others to return, the expulsion of the society and confusion as in Germany, extinction of zeal and favour, disanimation of princes from the hot pursuit of the enterprise.. .. We shall be left as a prey to the wolves that will besides drive our greatest patron [the king of ] to stoop to a peace which will be the utter ruin of our edifice, this many years in building." Unfortunately, about this time the Jesuits, who thus thrived on political intrigue, and who were deeply implicated in treasonable correspondence with Spain, had obtained a complete ascendancy over the secular priests, who were for obeying the civil government as far as possible and keeping free from politics. The time, therefore, as far as the Roman Catholics themselves were concerned, was not a propitious one for introducing the moderate concessions which alone James had promised: James, too, on his side, found that religious toleration, though clearly sound in principle, was difficult in practice. During the first few months of the reign all went well. In July 1603 the fines for recusancy were remitted. In January 1604 peaceable Roman Catholics could live unmolested and "serve God according to their consciences without any danger." But James's expectations that the pope would prevent dangerous and seditious persons from entering the country were unfulfilled and the numbers of the Jesuits and the Roman Catholics greatly increased. Rumours of plots came to hand. Cecil, though like his master naturally in favour of toleration, with his experience gained in the reign of Elizabeth, was alarmed at the policy pursued and its results, and great anxiety was aroused in the government and nation, which was in the end shared by the king. It was determined finally to return to the earlier policy of repression. On the 22nd of February 1604 a proclamation was issued banishing priests; on the 28th of November 1604, recusancy fines were demanded from 13 wealthy persons, and on the 10th of February 1605 the penal laws were ordered to be executed. The plot, however, could not have been occasioned by these measures, for it had been already conceived in the mind of Robert Catesby. It was aimed at the repeal of the whole Elizabethan legislation against the Roman Catholics and perhaps derived some impulse at first from the leniency lately shown by the administration, afterwards gaining support from the opposite cause, the return of the government to the policy of repression.

It was in May 1603 that Catesby told Percy, in reply to the latter's declaration of his intention to kill the king, that he was "thinking of a most sure way." Subsequently, about the 1st of November 1603, Catesby sent a message to his cousin Robert Winter at Huddington, near Worcester, to come to London, which the latter refused. On the arrival of a second urgent summons shortly afterwards he obeyed, and was then at a house at Lambeth, probably in January 1604, initiated by Catesby together with John Wright into the plot to blow up the parliament house. Before putting this plan into execution, however, it was decided to try a "quiet way"; and Winter was sent over to Flanders to obtain the good offices of Juan de Velasco, duke of Frias and constable of Castile, who had arrived there to conduct the negotiations for a peace between England and Spain, in order to obtain the repeal of the penal laws. Winter, having secured nothing but vain promises from the constable, returned to England about the end of April, bringing with him Guy Fawkes, a man devoted to the Roman Catholic cause and recommended for undertaking perilous adventures. Subsequently the three and Thomas Percy, who joined the conspiracy in May, met in a house behind St Clement's and, having taken an oath of secrecy together, heard Mass and received the Sacrament in an adjoining apartment from a priest stated by Fawkes to have been Father Gerard. Later several other persons were included in the plot, viz. Winter's brother Thomas, John Grant, Ambrose Rokewood, Robert Keyes, Sir Everard Digby, Francis Tresham, a cousin of Catesby and Thomas Bates Catesby's servant, all, with the exception of the last, being men of good family and all Roman Catholics. Father Greenway and Father Garnet, the Jesuits, were both cognisant of the plot (see Garnet, Henry). On the 24th of May 1604 a house was hired in Percy's name adjoining the House of Lords, from the cellar of which they proposed to work a mine. They began on the 11th of December 1604, and by about March had got half-way through the wall. They then discovered that a vault immediately under the House of Lords was available. This was at once hired by Percy, and 36 barrels of gunpowder, amounting to about ton and 12 cwt., were brought in and concealed under coal and faggots. The preparations being completed in May the conspirators separated. Fawkes was despatched to Flanders, where he imparted the plot to Hugh Owen, a zealous Romanist intriguer. Sir Edmund Baynham was sent on a mission to Rome to be at hand when the news came to gain over the pope to the cause of the successful conspirators. An understanding was arrived at with several officers levied for the service of the archduke, that they should return at once to England when occasion arose of defending the Roman Catholic cause. A great hunting match was organized at Danchurch in Warwickshire by Digby, to which large numbers of the Roman Catholic gentry were invited, who were to join the plot after the successful accomplishment of the explosion of the 5th of November, the day fixed for the opening of parliament, and get possession of the princess Elizabeth, then residing in the neighbourhood; while Percy was to seize the infant prince Charles and bring him on horseback to their meeting-place. Guy Fawkes himself was to take ship immediately for Flanders, spread the news on the continent and get supporters. The conspirators imagined that a terrorized and helpless government would readily agree to all their demands. Hitherto the secret had been well kept and the preparations had been completed with extraordinary success and without a single drawback; but a very serious difficulty now confronted the conspirators as the time for action arrived, and disturbed their consciences. The feelings of ordinary humanity shrunk from the destruction of so many persons guiltless of any offence. But in addition, among the peers to be assassinated were included many Roman Catholics and some lords nearly connected in kinship or friendship with the plotters themselves. Several appeals, however, made to Catesby to allow warning to be given to certain individuals were firmly rejected.

On the 26th of October Lord Monteagle, a brother-in-law of Francis Tresham, who had formerly been closely connected with some of the other conspirators and had engaged in Romanist plots against the government, but who had given his support to the new king, unexpectedly ordered supper to be prepared at his house at Haxton, from which he had been absent for more than a year. While at supper about 6 o'clock an anonymous letter was brought by an unknown messenger which, having glanced at, he handed to Ward, a gentleman of his service and an intimate friend of Winter, the conspirator, to be read aloud. The celebrated letter ran as follows: "My lord, out of the love I bear to some of your friends, I have a care for your preservation. Therefore I would advise you, as you tender your life, to devise some excuse to shift of your attendance of 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 the Parliament, and yet they shall not see who hurts them. This counsel is not to be contemned, because it may do you good and can do you no harm, for the danger is past 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." The authorship of the letter has never been disclosed or proved, but all evidence seems to point to Tresham, and to the probability that he had some days before warned Monteagle and agreed with him as to the best means of making known the plot and preventing its execution, and at the same time of giving the conspirators time to escape (see Tresham, Francis).

Monteagle at once started for Whitehall, found Salisbury and other ministers about to sit down to supper, and showed the letter, whereupon it was decided to search the cellar under the House of Lords before the meeting of parliament, but not too soon, so that the plot might be ripe and be fully disclosed. Meanwhile Ward, on the 27th of October, as had evidently been intended, informed Winter that the plot was known, and on the 28th Winter informed Catesby and begged him to give up the whole project. Catesby, however, after some hesitation, finding from Fawkes that nothing had been touched in the cellar, and prevailed upon by Percy, determined to stand firm, hoping that the government had put no credence in Monteagle's letter, and Fawkes returned to the cellar to keep guard as before. On the 4th the king, having been shown the letter, ordered the earl of Suffolk, as lord chamberlain, to examine the buildings. He was accompanied by Monteagle. On arriving at the cellar, the door was opened to him by Fawkes. Seeing the enormous piles of faggots he asked the name of their owner, to which Fawkes replied that they belonged to Percy. His name immediately aroused suspicions, and accordingly it was ordered that a further search should be made by Thomas Knyvett, a Westminster magistrate who, coming with his men at night, discovered the gunpowder and arrested Fawkes on the threshold.

The opinion that the whole plot was the work of Salisbury, that he acted as an agent provocateur and lured on his victims to destruction, repeated by some contemporary and later writers and recently formulated and urged with great ability, has no solid foundation. Nor is it even probable that he was aware of its existence till he received Monteagle's letter. Even after its reception complete belief was not placed in the warning. A search was made only to make sure that nothing was wrong and guided only by Monteagle's letter, while no attempt was made to seize the conspirators. The steps taken by Salisbury after the discovery of the gunpowder do not show the possession of any information of the plot or of the persons who were its chief agents outside Fawkes's first statement, and his knowledge is seen to develop according to the successive disclosures and confessions of the latter. Thus on the 7th of November he had no knowledge of the mine, and it is only after Fawkes's examination by torture on the 9th, when the names of the conspirators were drawn from him, that the government was able to classify them according to their guilt and extent of their participation. The inquiry was not conducted by Salisbury alone, but by several commissioners, some of whom were Roman Catholics, and many rivals and secret enemies. To conceal his intrigue from all these would have been impossible, and that he should have put himself in their power to such an extent is highly improbable. Again, the plan agreed upon for disclosing the plot was especially designed to allow the conspirators to escape, and therefore scarcely a method which would have been arranged with Salisbury. Not one of the conspirators, even when all hope of saving life was gone, made any accusation against Salisbury or the government and all died expressing contrition for their crime. Lastly Salisbury had no conceivable motive in concocting a plot of this description. His political power and position in the new reign had been already secured and by very different methods. He was now at the height of his influence, having been created Viscount Cranborne in August 1604 and earl of Salisbury in May 1605; and James had already, more than 16 months before the discovery of the plot, consented to return to the repressive measures against the Romanists. The success with which the conspirators concealed their plot from Salisbury's spies is indeed astonishing, but is probably explained by its very audacity and by the absence of incriminating correspondence, the medium through which the minister chiefly obtained his knowledge of the plans of his enemies.

On the arrest of Fawkes the other conspirators, except Tresham, fled in parties by different ways, rejoining each other in Warwickshire, as had been agreed in case the plot had been successful. Catesby, who with some others had covered the distance of 80 m. between London and his mother's house at Ashby St Legers in eight hours, informed his friends in Warwickshire, who had been awaiting the issue of the plot, of its failure, but succeeded in persuading Sir Everard Digby, by an unscrupulous falsehood, to further implicate himself in his hopeless cause by assuring him that both James and Salisbury were dead; and, according to Father Garnet, this was not the first time that Catesby had been guilty of lies in order to draw men into the plot. He pushed on the same day with his companions in the direction of Wales, where, it was hoped, they would be joined by bands of insurgents. They arrived at Huddington at 2 in the afternoon. On the morning of the 7th the band, numbering about 36 persons, confessed and heard Mass, and then rode away to Holbeche, 2 m. from Stourbridge, in Staffordshire, the house of Stephen Littleton, who had been present at the hunting at Danchurch (see Digby, Everard), where they arrived at 10 o'clock at night, having on their way broken into Lord Windsor's house at Hewell Grange and taken all the armour they found there. Their case was now desperate. None had joined them: "Not one came to take our part," said Sir Everard Digby, "though we had expected so many." They were being followed by the sheriff and all the forces of the county. All spurned them from their doors when they applied for succour. One by one their followers fled from the house in which the last scene was to be played out. They now began to feel themselves abandoned not only by man but by God; for an explosion of some of their gunpowder, on the morning of the 8th, by which Catesby and some others were scorched, struck terror into their hearts as a judgment from heaven. The assurance of innocence and of a just cause which till now had alone supported them was taken away. The greatness of their crime, its true nature, now struck home to them, and the few moments which remained to them of life were spent in prayer and in repentance. The supreme hour had now arrived. About 11 o'clock the sheriff and his men came up and immediately began firing into the house. Catesby, Percy and the two Wrights were killed, Winter and Rokewood wounded and taken prisoners with the men who still adhered to them. In all eight of the conspirators, including the two Winters, Digby, Fawkes, Rokewood, Keyes and Bates, were executed, while Tresham died in the Tower. Of the priests involved, Garnet was tried and executed, while Greenway and Gerard succeeded in escaping.

So ended the strange and famous Gunpowder Plot. However atrocious its conception and its aims, it is impossible not to feel, together with horror for the deed, some pity and admiration for the guilty persons who took part in it. "Theirs was a crime which it would never have entered into the heart of any man to commit who was not raised above the lowness of the ordinary criminal." They sinned not against the light but in the dark. They erred from ignorance, from a perverted moral sense rather than from any mean or selfish motive, and exhibited extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice in the pursuit of what seemed to them the cause of God and of their country. Their punishment was terrible. Not only had they risked and lost all in the attempt and drawn upon themselves the frightful vengeance of the state, but they saw themselves the means of injuring irretrievably the cause for which they felt such devotion. Nothing could have been more disastrous to the cause of the Roman Catholics than their crime. The laws against them were immediately increased in severity, and the gradual advance towards religious toleration was put back for centuries. In addition a new, increased and long-enduring hostility was aroused in the country against the adherents of the old faith, not unnatural in the circumstances, but unjust and undiscriminating, because while some of the Jesuits were no doubt implicated, the secular priests and Roman Catholic laity as a whole had taken no part in the conspiracy.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The recent controversy concerning the nature and origin of the plot can be followed in What was the Gunpowder Plot ? by John Gerard, S.J. (1897); What Gunpowder Plot was, by S. R. Gardiner (a rejoinder) (1897); The Gunpowder Plot. .. in reply to Professor Gardiner, by John Gerard, S.J. (1897); Thomas Winter's Confession and the Gunpowder Plot, by John Gerard, S.J. (with facsimiles of his writing) (1898); Eng. Hist. Rev. iii. 510 and xii. 791; Edinburgh Review, clxxxv. 183; Athenaeum 1897, ii. 1 49, 7 8 5, 8 55; 1898, i. 23, ii. 352, 420; Academy, vol. 52 p. 84; The Nation, vol. 65 p. 400. A considerable portion of the controversy centres round the question of the authenticity of Thomas Winter's confession, the MS. of which is at Hatfield, supported by Professor Gardiner, but denied by Father Gerard principally on account of the document having been signed "Winter" instead of "Wintour," the latter apparently being the conspirator's usual style of signature. The document was deposited by the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury for inspection at the Record Office, and was pronounced by two experts, one from the British Museum and another from the Record Office, to be undoubtedly genuine. The cause of the variation in the signature still remains unexplained, but ceases to have therefore any great historical importance. The bibliography of the contemporary controversy is given in the article on Henry Garnet in the Dictionary of National Biography and in The Gunpowder Plot by David Jardine (1857), the latter work still remaining the principal authority on the subject; add to these Gardiner's Hist. of England, i., where an excellent account is given; History of the Jesuits in England, by Father Ethelred Taunton (1901); Father Gerard's Narrative in Condition of the Catholics under James I. (1872), and Father Greenway's Narrative in Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, 1st series (1872), interesting as contemporary accounts, but not to be taken as complete or infallible authorities, of the same nature being Historia Provinciae Anglicanae Societatis Jesu, by Henry More, S.J. (1660), pp. 309 et seq.; also History of Great Britain, by John Speed (1611), pp. 839 et seq.; Archaeologia, xii. 200, xxviii. 422, xxix. 80; Harleian Miscellany (1809), iii. 119-135, or Somers Tracts (1809), ii. 97-117; M. A. Tierney's ed. of Dodd's Church History, vol. iv. (1841); Treason and Plot, by Martin Hume (1901); Notes and Queries, 7 ser. vi., 8 ser. iv. 408, 497, v 55, xii. 505, 9 ser. xi. 115; Add. MSS. Brit. Mus. 6178; State Trials, ii.; Calendar of State Pap. Dom. (1603-1610), and the official account, A True and Perfect Relation of the Whole Proceedings against the late most Barbarous Traitors (1606), a neither true nor complete narrative however, now superseded as an authority, reprinted as The Gunpowder Treason . with additions in 1679 by Thomas Barlow, bishop of Lincoln. A large number of letters and papers in the State Paper Office relating to the plot were collected in one volume in 1819, called the Gunpowder Plot Book; these are noted in their proper place in the printed calendars of State Papers, Domestic Series; see also articles on FAWKES, GUY; TRESHAM, FRANCIS; MONTEAGLE, WILLIAM PARKER, 4TH BARON; PERCY, THOMAS; CATESBY, ROBERT; GARNET, HENRY; DIGBY, SIR EVERARD. (P. C. Y.)


<< Gunpowder

Gun-Room >>


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Wikipedia-logo.png
Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Proper noun

Gunpowder Plot

  1. (British) A failed plot, in 1605, to kill the Protestant king of England.

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|320px|Contemporary sketch of the conspirators by Crispijn van de Passe]]

The Gunpowder Conspiracy of 1605 was a plan to kill King James I of England and VI of Scotland. Other names for the plot are The Powder Treason or The Gunpowder Plot.[1] A group of Catholics wanted to blow up Houses of Parliament during the State Opening on 5 November 1605. This would have killed the king, and most of the Protestant aristocracy.

The conspirators also planned to abduct the royal children,[2] and lead a popular revolt in the Midlands.

Contents

Origins

]] Robert Catesby led the planning of the conspiracy, which started in May 1604. The people who helped him were either wealthy Catholics, or gentry families who had a lot of influence. Catesby may have come up with the plot when he saw that there was little hope that Great Britain would become more tolerant to Roman Catholics, under King James I. Many Catholics were disappointed about the situation. It is more likely though that Catesby simply wanted to give the Catholics in England a chance: The plot was intended to be the first step of a rebellion. Afterwards, James' nine-year-old daughter (Princess Elizabeth) could be put in as a Catholic head of state.

Other plotters wereThomas Winter (also spelled Wintour), Robert Winter, John Wright, Christopher Wright, Robert Keyes, Thomas Percy (also spelled Percye), John Grant, Ambrose Rokewood, Sir Everard Digby, Francis Tresham and Thomas Bates (Catesby's servant). The explosives were prepared by Guy "Guido" Fawkes, a man with 10 years military experience. Fawkes had fought with the Spanish against the Dutch in the Spanish Netherlands.

The main Jesuit in England, Father Henry Garnet was said to know the details of the plot. Oswald Tesimond, a fellow Jesuit had told him. Robert Catesby confessed them to Tesimond, and gave him the permission to tell Garnet. Although he was convicted, there has since been some debate over how much Garnet really knew.[3] As the details of the plot were known through confession, Garnet was not allowed to reveal them to the authorities. He did not think it was a good idea. Nevertheless, the plot went ahead. Garnet's opposition to it did not save him from being hanged, drawn and quartered for treason in 1606, though.

Planning

In the 17th century, the Palace of Westminster was made of many buildings, spread over a large area. They were grouped around the medieval chambers, chapels, and halls of the old royal palace. This palace housed both Parliament and the various law courts. The palace was also easier to access than it is today. Merchants, lawyers, and other people lived and worked on the palace grounds.

As a member of the King's Bodyguard,[4] Percy was able to lease rooms next to the House of Lords, in May 1604. The plotters' original idea was to dig their way under the foundations of the Lords chamber to put the gunpowder there. The main idea was to kill James, but many other important targets would be present, including most of the Protestant nobility and senior bishops of the Church of England. Guy Fawkes, as "John Johnson", was put in charge of this building, where he posed as Percy's servant. Catesby's house in Lambeth was used to store the gunpowder with the tools for digging.

However, when the Black Plague came back to London in the summer of 1604 and it proved to be particularly severe. For this reason, the opening of Parliament was changed to 1605. By Christmas Eve, the miners had still not reached the buildings of Parliament, and just as they restarted work early in 1605, they learned that the opening of Parliament had been further postponed to 3 October. The plotters then took the opportunity to row the gunpowder up the Thames from Catesby's house in Lambeth, to hide it in their new rented house: they had learned (by chance) that a coal merchant named Ellen Bright had vacated a ground-floor undercroft directly beneath the House of Lords chamber. Presented with this golden opportunity, Percy immediately took pains to secure the lease. He created the story that his wife would join him in London and that he would need the extra storage space. , the eldest daughter of King James, who it was intended would inherit the crown and rule as a Catholic Queen Elizabeth II]] Fawkes assisted in filling the room with gunpowder, which was hidden beneath a wood store under the House of Lords building, in a cellar leased from John Whynniard. By March 1605, they had filled the undercroft underneath the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder, hidden under a store of winter fuel.[5] Had all 36 barrels been successfully ignited, the explosion could easily have reduced many of the buildings in the Old Palace of Westminster complex to rubble, and would have blown out windows in the surrounding area of about a one kilometre radius.

The conspirators left London in May, and went to their homes or to different areas of the country, because being seen together would arouse suspicion. They arranged to meet again in September; however, the opening of Parliament was again postponed.

The weakest parts of the plot were the arrangements for the subsequent rebellion which would have swept the country and installed a Catholic monarch. Due to the requirements for money and arms, Sir Francis Tresham was eventually admitted to the plot, and it was probably he who betrayed the plot in writing to his brother-in-law Lord Monteagle. An anonymous letter revealed some of the details of the plot; it read: "I advise you to devise some excuse not to attend this parliament, for they shall receive a terrible blow, and yet shall not see who hurts them".

According to the confession made by Fawkes on Tuesday 5 November 1605,[6] he had left Dover around Easter 1605, bound for Calais. He then travelled to Saint-Omer and on to Brussels, where he met with Hugh Owen and Sir William Stanley before making a pilgrimage to Brabant. He returned to England at the end of August or early September, again by way of Calais.

Guy Fawkes was left in charge of executing the plot, while the other conspirators fled to Dunchurch in Warwickshire to await news. Once Parliament had been destroyed, the other conspirators planned to start a revolt in the Midlands.

Discovery

During the preparation, several of the conspirators had been concerned about the safety of fellow Catholics who would be present in Parliament on the day of the planned explosion.[7] On the evening of Friday, 26 October Lord Monteagle received an anonymous letter while at his house in Hoxton.

My lord out of the love i bare to some of youre frends i have a care of your preseruasion therefore i would advise you as you tender your life to devise some excuse to shift of 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 youre self into youre control where you may expect the event in saftey 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 councel 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.

Monteagle had the note read out loud, possibly to warn the plotters that the secret was out, and promptly handed it over to Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, the Secretary of State.[8] The conspirators learned of the letter the following day, but decided to go ahead with their plan, especially after Fawkes inspected the undercroft and found that nothing had been touched.

Having been shown the letter, the King ordered Sir Thomas Knyvet to conduct a search of the cellars underneath Parliament, which he did in the early hours of 5 November. Shortly after midnight, Fawkes was found leaving the cellar the conspirators had rented and was arrested, giving his name as John Johnson. Inside, the barrels of gunpowder were discovered hidden under piles of firewood and coal.[9] Far from denying his intentions during the arrest, Fawkes stated that it had been his purpose to destroy the King and the Parliament.[10] Nevertheless, Fawkes maintained his false identity and continued to insist that he was acting alone. Later in the morning, before noon, he was again interrogated. He was questioned on the nature of his accomplices, the involvement of Thomas Percy, what letters he had received from overseas and whether or not he had spoken with Hugh Owen.

A letter written by Gentleman of the Bedchamber, Sir Edward Hoby gave details of all those that would have been caught in the explosion:

On the 5th of November we began a Parliament, to which the King should have cometh in person, but refrained through a practice but that morning discovered. The plot was to have blown up the King at such time as he should have been sat in his royal throne, Nobility and Commons and with all Bishops, Judges and Doctors at one instant, and the blast to have ruined the whole estate and kingdom of England. [11]

Fawkes was taken to the Tower of London and interrogated there under torture. Torture was forbidden, except by the express instruction of the monarch or a body such as the Privy Council or the Star Chamber.[12] In a letter of 6 November, King James I stated:

The gentler tortours [tortures] are to be first used unto him, et sic per gradus ad maiora tenditur [and thus by steps extended to greater ones], and so God speed your good work.

The discovery of the Gunpowder Plot aroused a wave of national relief at the delivery of the king and his sons, and inspired in the ensuing parliament a mood of loyalty and goodwill, which Salisbury astutely exploited to extract higher subsidies for the king than any (bar one) granted in Elizabeth's reign.[13] In his speech to both Houses on 9 November, James expounded on two emerging preoccupations of his monarchy: the Divine Right of Kings and the Catholic question. He insisted that the plot had been the work of only a few Catholics, not of the English Catholics as a whole,[14] and he reminded the assembly to rejoice at his survival, since kings were divinely appointed and he owed his escape to a miracle.[15]

Trial and executions

On hearing of the failure of the plot, the conspirators fled towards Huddington Court near Worcester, a family home of Thomas and Robert Wintour. Heavy rain, however, slowed their travels. Many of them were caught by Richard Walsh, the Sheriff of Worcestershire, when they arrived in Stourbridge.

The remaining men attempted a revolt in the Midlands. This failed, coming to a dramatic end at Holbeche House in Staffordshire, where there was a shoot-out resulting in the deaths of Catesby and Percy and capture of several other principal conspirators. Jesuits and others were then rounded up in other locations in Britain, with some being killed by torture during interrogation. Robert Wintour managed to remain on the run for two months before he was captured at Hagley Park.

The conspirators were tried on 27 January 1606 in Westminster Hall. All of the plotters pleaded "Not Guilty" except for Sir Everard Digby, who attempted to defend himself on the grounds that the King had reneged on his promises of greater tolerance of Catholicism. Sir Edward Coke, the attorney general, prosecuted, and the Earl of Northampton made a speech refuting the charges laid by Sir Everard Digby. The trial lasted one day (English criminal trials generally did not exceed a single day's duration) and the verdict was never in doubt.

The trial ranked highly as a public spectacle, and there are records of up to 10 shillings being paid for entry. Four of the plotters were executed in St. Paul's Churchyard on 30 January. On 31 January, Fawkes, Winter and a number of others implicated in the conspiracy were taken to Old Palace Yard in Westminster, in front of the scene of the intended crime, where they were to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

Fawkes, although weakened by torture, cheated the executioners: when he was to be hanged until almost dead, he jumped from the gallows, breaking his neck and killing himself, thus avoiding the gruesome latter part of his execution.[16]

Henry Garnet was executed on 3 May 1606 at St Paul's. His crime was of being the confessor of several members of the Gunpowder Plot, and as noted, he had opposed the plot. Many spectators thought that his punishment was too severe. Antonia Fraser writes:

With a loud cry of "hold, hold" they stopped the hangman cutting down the body while Garnet was still alive. Others pulled the priest's legs ... which was traditionally done to ensure a speedy death.[17]

Due to the Gunpowder Plot, many Catholics found themselves persecuted or imprisoned in the Tower of London, including the following:

  • Anthony-Maria Browne, 2nd Viscount Montagu, due to Guy Fawkes being one of his servants and Robert Catesby having warned him not to attend Parliament.
  • Lady Agnes Wenman of Thame Park as a Catholic and relative of the Dowager Lady Elizabeth Vaux.
  • Dowager Lady Elizabeth Vaux for being a supporter of Fr. Henry Garnet.
  • Edward Vaux, 4th Baron Vaux of Harrowden for being a Catholic, son of the above.
  • Edward Stourton, 10th Baron Stourton for being a cousin of Sir Francis Tresham who was a Gunpowder Plotter, and for getting a letter telling him to be absent from Parliament.
  • Henry Mordaunt, 4th Baron Mordaunt for getting a letter telling him to be absent from Parliament.
  • Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland for being the cousin of Sir Thomas Percy (plotter)
  • Sir Alan Percy brother of the above and Lieutenant of the Gentleman Pensioners under Northumberland's captaincy, who were also the King's Bodyguard.
  • Dudley Carleton, 1st Viscount Dorchester for being the secretary of the Earl of Northumberland.

Historical impact

Greater freedom for Catholics to worship as they chose seemed unlikely in 1604, but after the plot in 1605, changing the law to afford Catholics leniency became unthinkable; Catholic Emancipation took another 200 years. Nevertheless, many important and loyal Catholics retained high office in the kingdom during King James' reign.

Interest in the demonic was heightened by the Gunpowder Plot. The king himself had become engaged in the great debate about other-worldly powers in writing his Daemonology in 1597, before he became King of England as well as Scotland. The apparent devilish nature of the gunpowder plot also partly inspired William Shakespeare's Macbeth. Demonic inversions (such as the line fair is foul and foul is fair) are frequently seen in the play. Another possible reference made in Macbeth was to equivocation, as Henry Garnett’s A Treatise of Equivocation was found on one of the plotters, and a resultant fear was that Jesuits could evade the truth through equivocation:[18]

Faith, here's an equivocator, that could
Swear in both the scales against either scale;
Who committed treason enough for God's sake,
Yet could not equivocate to heaven
- Macbeth, Act 2 Scene 3

The Gunpowder Plot was commemorated for years after the plot by special sermons and other public acts, such as the ringing of church bells. It added to an increasingly full calendar of Protestant celebrations which contributed to the national and religious life of seventeenth-century England.[19] Through various permutations, this has evolved into the Bonfire Night of today.

Professor Ronald Hutton[20] has considered the possible events which could have followed the successful implementation of the Gunpowder Plot, with the resultant destruction of Parliament and death of the king. He concluded that the violence of the act would have instead resulted in a more severe backlash against suspected Catholics. Without the involvement of some form of foreign aid, success would have been unlikely, as most Englishmen were loyal to the institution of the monarchy, despite differing religious convictions. England could very well have become a more "Puritan absolute monarchy", as "existed in Sweden, Denmark, Saxony, and Prussia in the seventeenth century",[20] rather than follow the path of parliamentary and civil reform that it did.

Commemoration


When Parliament met in January 1606 for the first time after the plot they passed an Act of Parliament called the "Thanksgiving Act". This made services and sermons commemorating the Plot an annual feature on 5 November.[21] The act remained in force until 1859.[5] On 5 November 1605, it is said that the people of London celebrated the defeat of the plot with fires and street festivities. The tradition of marking the day with the ringing of church bells and bonfires started soon after the Plot and fireworks were also included in some of the earliest celebrations.[21] In Britain the fifth of November is also called Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night or Guy Fawkes Night.[5]

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 with a grotesque mask, to be burnt on the 5 November bonfire. These effigies would be shown in the street, to collect money for fireworks, although this practice is becoming less common.[22] The word guy came thus in the 19th century to mean an oddly dressed person, and in the 20th and 21st centuries to mean any male person.[5]

Institutions and towns may hold firework displays and bonfire parties, and the same is done on a smaller scale in back gardens throughout the country.[5] In some areas, particularly in Sussex, there are extensive processions, large bonfires and firework displays organised by local bonfire societies; the most extensive of which takes place in Lewes.[23]

The Houses of Parliament are still searched by the Yeomen of the Guard before the State Opening of Parliament, however, this is done as a traditional custom rather than a serious anti-terrorist precaution.[5]

A commemorative British two pound coin was issued in 2005 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the plot.[24]

The cellar in which Fawkes watched over his gunpowder was demolished in 1822. The area was further damaged in the 1834 fire and destroyed in the subsequent rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster. The lantern which Guy Fawkes carried in 1605 is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. A key supposedly taken from him is in Speaker's House, Palace of Westminster. These two items were shown in a major exhibition held in Westminster Hall from July to November 2005.

According to Esther Forbes (a biographer), the Guy Fawkes Day celebration in the pre-revolutionary American Colonies was a very popular holiday. In Boston, the celebration took on anti-authoritarian overtones, and often became so dangerous that many would not venture out of their homes.[25]

In November 1930, taking advantage of the bonfires used on the holiday, Alfred Arthur Rouse murdered an unknown man and planted his body as a substitute for Rouse's in his Morris Minor (1928) automobile (which was then set alight). The scheme did not work out, and Rouse was arrested, tried and executed for the crime.

Accusations of state conspiracy

Many at the time felt that Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury had been involved in the plot to gain favour with the king and enact more stridently anti-Catholic legislation. Such theories alleged that Cecil had either actually invented the plot or allowed it to continue when his agents had already infiltrated it, for the purposes of propaganda. These rumours were the start of a long-lasting conspiracy theory about the plot. Yet while there was no "golden time" of "toleration" of Catholics which Father Garnet had hoped for at the start of James' reign, the legislative backlash had nothing to do with the plot: it had already happened by 1605, as recusancy fines were re-imposed and some priests expelled. There was no purge of Catholics from power and influence in the kingdom after the Gunpowder Plot, despite Puritan complaints. The reign of James I was, in fact, a time of relative leniency for Catholics, few being subject to prosecution.[26]

This did not dissuade some from continuing to claim Cecil's involvement in the plot. In 1897 Father John Gerard of Stonyhurst College, namesake of a Jesuit priest who had performed Mass to some of the plotters, wrote an account called What was the Gunpowder Plot?, alleging Cecil's culpability.[27] This prompted a refutation later that year by Samuel Gardiner, who argued that Gerard had gone too far in trying to "wipe away the reproach" which the plot had exacted on generations of English Catholics.[28] Gardiner portrayed Cecil as guilty of nothing more than opportunism. Subsequent attempts to prove Cecil's responsibility, such as Francis Edwards's 1969 work Guy Fawkes: the real story of the gunpowder plot?, have similarly foundered on the lack of positive proof of any government involvement in setting up the plot.[29] There has been little support by historians for the conspiracy theory since this time, other than to acknowledge that Cecil may have known about the plot some days before it was uncovered.

Modern plot analysis

According to the historian Lady Antonia Fraser, the gunpowder was taken to the Tower of London magazine. It would have been reissued or sold for recycling if in good condition. Ordnance records for the Tower state that 18 hundredweight (equivalent to about 816 kg) of it was "decayed", which could imply that it was rendered harmless due to having separated into its component chemical parts, as happens with gunpowder when left to sit for too long—if Fawkes had ignited the gunpowder during the opening, it would only have resulted in a weak splutter. Alternatively, "decayed" may refer to the powder being damp and sticking together, making it unfit for use in firearms — in which case the explosive capabilities of the barrels would not have been significantly affected.

The Gunpowder Plot: Exploding The Legend, an ITV programme presented by Richard Hammond and broadcast on 1 November 2005, re-enacted the plot by blowing up an exact replica of the 17th-century House of Lords filled with test dummies, using the exact amount of gunpowder in the underground of the building. The dramatic experiment, conducted on the Advantica Spadeadam test site, proved unambiguously that the explosion would have killed all those attending the State Opening of Parliament in the Lords chamber.[30]

The power of the explosion, which surprised even gunpowder experts, was such that seven-foot deep solid concrete walls (made deliberately to replicate how archives suggest the walls in the old House of Lords were constructed) were reduced to rubble. Measuring devices placed in the chamber to calculate the force of the blast were themselves destroyed by the blast, while the skull of the dummy representing King James, which had been placed on a throne inside the chamber surrounded by courtiers, peers and bishops, was found a large distance away from the site. According to the findings of the programme, no-one within 100 metres of the blast could have survived, while all the stained glass windows in Westminster Abbey would have been shattered, as would all windows within a large distance of the Palace. The power of the explosion would have been seen from miles away, and heard from further still. Even if only half the gunpowder had gone off, everyone in the House of Lords and its environs would have been killed instantly.[30]

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, at such a 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 the impact of its compression in wooden barrels, with the compression overcoming any deterioration in 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. In addition, mathematical calculations showed that Fawkes, who was skilled in the use of gunpowder, had used double the amount of gunpowder needed.[31]

A sample of the gunpowder may have survived: in March 2002, workers investigating archives of John Evelyn at the British Library found a box containing various samples of gunpowder and several notes suggesting a relation to the Gunpowder Plot:[needs proof]

  1. "Gunpowder 1605 in a paper inscribed by John Evelyn. Powder with which that villain Faux (sic) would have blown up the parliament.",
  2. "Gunpowder. Large package is supposed to be Guy Fawkes' gunpowder".
  3. "But there was none left! WEH 1952

Other pages

Notes

  1. Antonia Fraser, The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605, London, 2002, Author's Note, pg. xv. ISBN 0-75381-401-3
  2. Alice Hogge (2005), God's Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot HarperCollins p.344
  3. Coughlan, Sean, Free the Gunpowder Plot One, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7688786.stm, retrieved 2009-10-07 
  4. Percy was a rent collector for his uncle, Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland and Northumberland had used his position to get Percy a post as a "Gentleman Pensioner", a ceremonial royal bodyguard, only a short while before the plot.Nicholls, Mark (May 2005). "The Gunpowder Plot". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Houses of Parliament factsheet on event accessed 6 March 2007
  6. "1605 in England". Time & Date. http://timeanddate.com/calendar/index.html?year=1605&country=9. 
  7. Northcote Parkinson 1976, pp. 62–63
  8. Willson, p 224.
  9. Northcote Parkinson 1976, p. 73
  10. As King James put it, Fawkes intended the destruction "not only ... of my person, nor of my wife and posterity also, but of the whole body of the State in general". Stewart, p 219.
  11. Alexander, p118.
  12. Scott, George Ryley (1940), "XI", History of Torture Throughout the Ages, pp. 87, ISBN 0766140636, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Tj7vbMmuvhYC&pg=PA86&lpg=PA86&dq=history+of+torture+in+britain&source=bl&ots=Sm6KnnnUbt&sig=e3ZW1GtjHHzTWmgvVLqB8p8N0Jc&hl=en&ei=48XPSvzmKJKw4Qa50vihAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CA4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=history%20of%20torture%20in%20britain&f=false, retrieved 10 October 2009 
  13. Croft, p 64.
  14. James said it did not follow "that all professing that Romish religion were guilty of the same". Quoted by Stewart, p 225.
  15. Willson, p 226.
  16. Northcote Parkinson 1976, pp. 91–92
  17. Antonia Fraser, Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot, Anchor, 1997. ISBN 0-385-47190-4
  18. Frank L. Huntley, "Macbeth and the Background of Jesuitical Equivocation", PMLA, Vol. 79, No. 4. (Sep, 1964), pp. 390–400.
  19. David Cressy, Bonfires and bells: national memory and the Protestant calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England (1989).
  20. 20.0 20.1 Ronald Hutton (2001-04-01). "What If the Gunpowder Plot Had Succeeded?". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/civil_war_revolution/gunpowder_hutton_01.shtml. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 Anon (2005/6). "Aftermath: Commemoration". The Gunpowder Plot:: Parliament and Treason 1605. Parliamentary Copyright House of Lords. http://www.gunpowderplot.parliament.uk/adults_plot_ac.htm. Retrieved 6th October 2009. 
  22. Anon. "Bonfire Night: A penny for the Guy". Icons: A portrait of England. Culture24. http://www.icons.org.uk/theicons/collection/bonfire-night/features/a-penny-for-the-guy-in-progress. Retrieved 6th October 2009. 
  23. Anon. "Bonfire Societies". Fireworks: News, views, sales and information about fireworks in the UK. http://www.fireworks.co.uk/abt/bonfiresocieties.html. Retrieved 6th october 2009. 
  24. United Kingdom £2 Coin, Royal Mint
  25. Forbes, Esther (1999) [1942]. Paul Revere and the World He Lived In. Houghton Mifflin Books. p. 94. ISBN 9780618001941. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=-r6sNI9dUfYC. 
  26. Peter Marshall, Reformation England 1480–1642, London, 2003, pp. 187–8.
  27. Gerard, John (1897). What was the Gunpowder Plot? : the traditional story tested by original evidence. London: Osgood, McIlvaine & Co. 
  28. Gardiner, Samuel (1897). What Gunpowder Plot was. London: Longmans, Green and Co. 
  29. Edwards, Francis (1969). Guy Fawkes: the real story of the gunpowder plot?. London: Hart-Davis. ISBN 0246639679. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 Gunpowder plotters get their wish, 400 years on Adam Sherwin The Times accessed 18 January 2008
  31. Guy Fawkes had twice the gunpowder needed Fiona Govan The Telegraph accessed 18 January 2008

Bibliography

  • Croft, Pauline (2003), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator King James], Macmillan, ISBN 0-333-61395-3 
  • Forbes, Esther (1942), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator Paul Revere and the Times He Lived In], Houghton Mifflin, pp. 89–94 
  • Northcote Parkinson, C. (1976), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator Gunpowder Treason and Plot], Weidenfeld and Nicolson, ISBN 0-297-77224-4 
  • Stewart, Alan (2003), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator The Cradle King: A Life of James VI & 1], Chatto and Windus, ISBN 0-7011-6984-2 
  • Haynes, Alan (1994), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator The Gunpowder Plot: Faith in Rebellion], Hayes and Sutton 
  • Wharam, Alan (1995), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator Treason: Famous English Treason Trials], Alan Sutton Publishing 
  • Willson, David Harris (1964) [1956], [Expression error: Unexpected < operator King James VI & I], Jonathan Cape, ISBN 0-224-60572-0 
  • Alexander, Mark (2002), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator A companion to the Folklore Myths and Customs of Britain], Stroud: Sutton Publishing, ISBN 0750923598 

Other websites








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message