The Gunpowder Plot

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The Gunpowder Plot

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The Gunpowder Plot

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The revolutionaries had hoped for better treatment from the new monarch James I after 45 years of hounding under the reign of Elizabeth I, and decided on drastic measures when things did not improve under his reign. Warwickshire-born Catholic Robert Catesby and his friends planned to kill the King, his ministers and scores of nobles by blowing up the Palace of Westminster during the State Opening of Parliament on November 5, The plotters rented a house nearby and managed to smuggle 36 barrels of gunpowder - around 2.

The explosives were discovered with hours to spare after an anonymous tip-off warning one peer to stay away. To this day the cellars under the Houses of Parliament are ceremonially searched before the annual State Opening. Far from being the plot's ringleader Guy "Guido" Fawkes was merely the trigger man drafted in to set the fuse. Born in York he converted to Catholicism following the death of his father and left to become Mercenary fighting for the Spanish against the Protestant Dutch.

Given his expertise in explosives he was charged with setting and lighting the fuse to the gunpowder. When he arrived at York his first act was to write to the English Privy Council for money as he was deeply in debt. His demands were agreed as they were anxious to develop a good relationship with their king who looked like a promising new leader. They were charmed, too, by his informal bonhomie. Soon after arriving in London King James told Henry Howard , 1st Earl of Northampton, "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 by good service worthily deserve it.

Catholics now became more open about their religious beliefs and this resulted in accusations that James was not a committed Protestant. It has been estimated that 5, people were convicted of rucusancy during this period. Roman Catholics felt bitter by what they saw as the king's betrayal. They now realised that they were an isolated minority in a hostile community. All the men agreed under oath to join the conspiracy. Catesby's plan involved blowing up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November, This date was chosen because the king was due to open Parliament on that day.

At first the group tried to tunnel under Parliament. This plan changed when Thomas Percy was able to hire a cellar under the House of Lords. The plotters then filled the cellar with barrels of gunpowder. The conspirators also hoped to kidnap the king's daughter, Elizabeth. In time, Catesby was going to arrange Elizabeth's marriage to a Catholic nobleman. One of the people involved in the plot was Francis Tresham. He was worried that the explosion would kill his friend and brother-in-law, Lord Monteagle.

Monteagle became suspicious and passed the letter to Robert Cecil. Cecil quickly organised a thorough search of the Houses of Parliament. He was arrested, and when his men hauled away the faggots and brushwood, they uncovered thirty-six barrels - nearly a ton - of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was tortured and admitted that he was part of a plot to "blow the Scotsman James back to Scotland".

On the 7th November, after enduring further tortures, Fawkes gave the names of his fellow conspirators. It was agreed to seize Lady Elizabeth, the king's eldest daughter The trial began on the 27th January, The Attorney-General Sir Edward Coke made a long speech, that included a denial that the King had ever made any promises to the Catholics. He then read out the confessions of the men accused of the crime.

Thomas Wintour made a statement where he admitted his involvement but pleaded that his brother, Robert Wintour , should be spared. Everard Digby pleaded guilty, but justified his actions by claiming that the insisting that the King had reneged upon promises of toleration for Catholics. 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. To start with he didn't tell the soldiers anything about the plot. But, eventually he started to tell the truth. In celebration of his survival, King James ordered that the people of England should have a great bonfire on the night on 5 th November. The searching of the cellars of Parliament before the opening of each new session, however, was not introduced until Play a Fireworks Game Can you move the gunpowder barrels into their correct positions?

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. The two websites projectbritain. She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent. Virtual Firework Display! Safe Fireworks. What happened - the Gungpowder Plot A group of men led 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.

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