Only late in the session did what became ‘The Act for due execution of the statutes against Jesuits etc.’ appear, a statute confirming that the penal laws were still in force. In the mid-1590s the Catholic mission fragmented. It was this intention that ultimately incriminated Northumberland and the three other peers, for it suggested that the warning sent to Monteagle was not unique and that other Catholic noblemen had been advised to be absent, as the four (for various reasons) intended to be. Catholic polemic which (very successfully) portrayed the Elizabethan persecutions in a similar fashion to the way John Foxe had portrayed the Marian  made the Elizabethan elite (who knew their Foxe well) very uncomfortable. Everyone knows what the Gunpowder Plotters looked like. There were claims from the start that the plot was a put-up job – if not a complete fabrication, then at least exaggerated for his own devious ends by Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, James’s secretary of state. News of his capture soon spread and many of the plotters quickly fled out of London. At about quarter-past midnight on 5th November, the cellars under Parliament were searched and Guy Fawkes was discovered guarding the gunpowder and some matches.

What happened - the Gungpowder Plot A group of menled by Robert Catesby, plotted to kill King James and blow up the Houses of Parliament, the place where the laws that governed England were made. Thomas and Robert Winter Thomas Winter was among the first to be drawn into the plot. This would have killed the king, and most of the Protestant aristocracy. There was also the tricky political issue of even-handedness, for since 1559 Puritans had repeatedly contrasted attempts to discipline them with the apparent tolerance of Catholics. English Catholics had been persecuted since Henry VII… The missionary clergy blamed the penal laws for intimidating many into conformity; once they were removed a large number of conversions could be expected. The penal laws were not the product of a clearly articulated policy, each of the statutes was a compromise of greater or lesser incoherence.

Instead of crowning one of the known claimants, Catesby proposed to place James’s nine-year old daughter Elizabeth on the throne (a curious choice given the plotters’ hostility to Scots). What was to happen next was vague, one of the major mysteries of the plot. It was so named due to the 36 barrels of gunpowder that were intended to blow up Parliament. The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was a failed assassination attempt on King James I. Absence, soon described as recusancy (disobedience, hence recusant), incurred a one shilling fine. The Pope was prepared to make some organizational changes to the mission, but he saw no reason to negotiate with Elizabeth with James’s accession in the offing. He retained the key figures of Elizabeth’s privy council, but added to them several peers of Catholic sympathy (including the Earl of Northumberland). Thanks to the fact that nothing actually happened, it is not surprising that the plot has been the subject of running dispute since November 5th, 1605. Although the plot happened in the Stuart period, in the reign of King James I, it actually had its origins in Elizabeth’s reign. He told Catesby that the Pope did not want English Catholics to create a disturbance at this point, but Catesby replied he did not care. Why did Robert Catesby therefore propose in May 1604 to destroy Parliament? The leader of the plot was Robert Catesby, a Northamptonshire gentleman who lived at Chastleton House, the now well-known National Trust property in Oxfordshire, during the 1590s. Most of the others, with the exception of Fawkes (a late recruit), were related to Catesby or to each other. Gunpowder Plot, the conspiracy of English Roman Catholics to blow up Parliament and King James I, his queen, and his eldest son on November 5, 1605. One, The Discourse of the Manner, was intended to give James a more commanding role in the uncovering of the plot than he deserved. The best explanation is a fatalistic conviction that the penal laws were here to stay and that Spain had abandoned English Catholics for James. The oath of allegiance was the centrepiece of James’s response to the Gunpowder Plot. However, James then vacillated over recusancy. There were four: England’s return to the Church; some form of formal toleration similar to that granted French Protestants; repeal of the penal laws; or simple non-enforcement. Rome read this evidence that his conversion was imminent. The Anglo-Spanish treaty was the product of considerable behind-the-scenes diplomacy. In May 1603 it was announced that recusancy fines would still be imposed, but in July, in response to Catholic appeals, he agreed to remit them. The Bye Plot involved seizing James and his eldest son Prince Henry, and forcing him to replace his chief ministers; the Main getting Spanish support to replace James with Arbella Stewart. 1556332. It cannot be said that, had the Gunpowder Plot not occurred, James I would have implemented a toleration for his Catholic subjects; but the complexity of the situation in 1600-05 meant that a number of outcomes were possible. A group of Catholics wanted to blow up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605. He was immediately arrested. But the enigma remained. Almost as well known are the broad outlines of the discovery of the ‘plot’:  the mysterious warning sent to Lord Monteagle on October 26th, 1605, the investigation of the cellars under the Palace of Westminster on November 4th, the discovery of the gunpowder and Guy Fawkes, the flight of the other conspirators, the shoot-out at Holbeach in Staffordshire on  November 8th in which four (Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy and the brothers Christopher and John Wright) were killed, and then the trial and execution of Fawkes and seven others in January 1606. The later statutes made it treason to withdraw the Queen’s subjects from their allegiance by converting them (1581) and treason for Jesuits and priests trained in foreign seminaries to enter England (1585). Bancroft’s aim was not merely to encourage the enmity between the appellants and the Jesuits, but also to win the agreement of the appellants to an oath of allegiance.

Their solution was an oath of allegiance distinct from the oath to the supremacy that would enable Catholics to prove they were not treasonous. One reason Persons and Allen supported Isabella was a residual hostility in Catholic circles to a Scottish succession, a hostility shared by some of the Gunpowder Plotters, especially Fawkes.

In 1605, a group of rural English Catholics from England’s heartlands banded together to hatch a plot to assassinate King James I and blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of England’s Parliament on 5th November 1605.

The official response was surprisingly muted. By then Spain was not in a position to implement it by force and the Pope (Clement VIII) was hostile to the Spanish monarchy and opposed to its expansion. In 1608, Sir William Waad had a large marble memorial erected in an upper room of the Queen’s House, known as the Council Chamber. A 1754 depiction of Catesby and Percy’s attempted escape from Holbeche House. This fear inspired possibly the most dangerous of his pre-1603 manoeuvres, various hints of leniency to Catholics. 1605 CE was the year of the Gunpowder Plot.



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