The Gunpowder Plot - why?

The conspirators

The conspirators

The Gunpowder Plot was a failed assassination attempt against King James 1 by a group of English Catholics led by Robert Catesby. Many English Catholics had hoped that the death of Elizabeth 1 and the accession of James in 1603 would lead to a relenting of harsh penalties for recusancy. Because Elizabeth had not formally named James as her successor, and to counter the efforts of influential Catholics like Robert Persons, James did some skilled political maneuvering with the pope and European monarchs to persuade them he was not a threat to Catholics. After these promising early signs, James cracked down once he was securely on the English throne and banished all Catholic priests. He then threatened to outlaw all Catholics.

Catesby's fellow plotters were mainly Midlands or Yorkshire based: John and Christopher Wright, Thomas and Robert Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham. Many of these men were from prominent Catholic families who had hosted Jesuit priests such as Edmund Campion during the reign of Elizabeth. They planned to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605, capture James's nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, and install her as the Catholic head of state (although she wasn't actually a Catholic). Fawkes, who had been a soldier in the Spanish Netherlands, was given charge of the explosives.

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Tags: The Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes

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