- Gunpowder Plot
an unsuccessful plot to kill King James I and the assembled Lords and Commons by blowing up Parliament, November 5, 1605, in revenge for the laws against Roman Catholics. Cf. Guy Fawkes Day.
* * *(1605) Conspiracy by English Roman Catholic zealots to blow up Parliament and kill James I.Angered by James's refusal to grant more religious toleration to Catholics, a group of conspirators led by Robert Catesby (1573–1605) recruited Guy Fawkes to their plot. One member warned his brother-in-law Lord Monteagle not to attend Parliament on the appointed day (November 5, 1605), and Monteagle alerted the government. Fawkes was arrested in a rented cellar under the palace at Westminster, where he had concealed 20 barrels of gunpowder. Under torture, he revealed the names of the conspirators, and they were all either killed while resisting arrest or executed in 1606. The plot bitterly intensified Protestant suspicions of Catholics.
* * *▪ English history(1605), the conspiracy of English Roman Catholics to blow up Parliament and King James I, his queen, and his oldest son on November 5, 1605. The leader of the plot, Robert Catesby (Catesby, Robert), together with his four coconspirators—Thomas Winter, Thomas Percy, John Wright, and Guy Fawkes (Fawkes, Guy)—were zealous Roman Catholics angered by James's refusal to grant more religious toleration to Catholics. They apparently hoped that the confusion that would follow the murder of the king, his ministers, and the members of Parliament would provide an opportunity for the English Catholics to take over the country.In the spring of 1605 the conspirators rented a cellar that extended under the palace at Westminster. There, Fawkes, who had been fighting in the Spanish Netherlands, concealed at least 20 barrels of gunpowder. The conspirators then separated until the meeting of Parliament.In the interim the need for broader support persuaded Catesby to include more conspirators. One of these, Francis Tresham, warned his Catholic brother-in-law Lord Monteagle not to attend Parliament on November 5, and Monteagle alerted the government to the plot. Fawkes was discovered in the cellar on the night of November 4–5 and under torture revealed the names of the conspirators. Catesby, Percy, and two others were killed while resisting arrest, and the rest were tried and executed (January 31, 1606).The plot bitterly intensified Protestant suspicions of Catholics and led to the rigorous enforcement of the recusancy law, which fined those who refused to attend Anglican services. In January 1606 Parliament established November 5 as a day of public thanksgiving. The day, known as Guy Fawkes Day, is still celebrated with bonfires, fireworks, and the carrying of “guys” through the streets.Additional ReadingExcellent accounts of the plot include Mark Nicholls, Investigating Gunpowder Plot (1991); and Antonia Fraser, The Gunpowder Plot: Terror & Faith in 1605 (1996).
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