The Gunpowder Plot


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Assembling the conspirators

He adopted the Italian version of his name 'Guido'. The king orders a second search. Just after midnight, Fawkes is found dressed for departure and in possession of fuses and matches. A more thorough search of the cellar now reveals 36 gunpowder barrels. Fawkes is dragged to King James for interrogation. The King authorises the use of torture to extract a confession. The plotters flee to Dunchurch in the Midlands on 5 November and steal horses from Warwick that evening.

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They move across the Midlands trying to raise men but the planned uprising comes to nothing. The plotters seize horses from Warwick, but Princess Elizabeth is then whisked from a manor nearby to safety in Coventry. Catesby decides to make a last stand in the Midlands and persuades the key plotters to join him. The gentler tortours are to be first used unto him The gunpowder they had with them was damp and they try to dry it by the fire. Catesby, Percy and the Wright brothers die in the subsequent gun fight.

The rest are wounded but captured alive.

They are taken to the Tower of London for interrogation. Plotter Ambrose Rookwood was held at Martin Tower during his imprisonment where he carved his name. It is trumped by a later fuller confession by Thomas Wintour during interrogation at the Tower of London. Thomas Wintour incriminates all the other plotters apart from his brother Robert. He will remain imprisoned for the next 16 years. The eight surviving conspirators attend a show trial at Westminster Hall, the very place which they had intended to blow up. Sir Everard Digby, who had been in charge of the Midlands uprising, is the only one to plead guilty.


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Attorney General Sir Edward Coke directs the prosecution of the other seven. He is keen to place the blame on the Jesuits, not on Catholics as a whole. All eight men are found guilty of treason. These are the greatest treasons that ever were plotted in England, and concern the greatest King that ever was of England. The executions were held in public as a warning to any others contemplating treason.

The next day, Guy Fawkes, Thomas Wintour, Robert Keyes and Ambrose Rookwood are hanged, drawn and quartered next to the House of Lords instead, a change of venue which shows the executions are for treason against the state, not for religious belief. Guy Fawkes… made his end upon the gallows and the block, to the great joy of all the beholders that the land was ended of so wicked a villainy. This page is no longer being updated. The greatest terror plot We all know the story of Guy Fawkes and how he was caught as he tried to blow up the House of Lords with gunpowder.

January-February Catesby starts planning the Gunpowder Plot.

April Guy Fawkes is recruited as the explosives expert. Thomas Wintour recruits Guy Fawkes in Flanders. June-October Thomas Percy secures a house near Parliament. December A tunnel is dug towards Parliament.

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Perhaps they had prepared too early though, for doubts began to creep into the minds of some of the plotters, worried about fellow catholics who would be present in Parliament on the appointed day, the 5th November. Only ten days before the Opening of Parliament, Lord Monteagle , an apparently reformed catholic, was sitting down to dinner in his Hoxton home when an important letter arrived for him. 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 know harm, for the danger is past as soon as you have burnt the latter: The authorship of the letter has never been certainly identified, but Lord Monteagle was Francis Tresham's brother-in-law.

The Gunpowder Plot of - History Learning Site

Though rather slow to act, the Privy Council eventually had the vaults beneath the Lords searched on the 4th November, first by the Earl of Suffolk and late the same evening by Sir Thomas Knyvett. Composed to the end, Fawkes coolly let the officials into Percy's cellar. Of course, the gunpowder was quickly discovered and Guy Fawkes was overpowered. On hearing that their plans had been foiled, Robert Catesby and Thomas Wintour fled to the Midlands where they met up with the rest of their party in Warwickshire, but failed to rally any support.

They managed to travel amongst the houses of friends and sympathisers for three days before finally being captured in a bloody raid on Holbeche House in Staffordshire.

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Others were captured a few days later though Robert Wintour was at large for some two months. Catholics in England had expected James to be more tolerant of them. In fact, he had proved to be the opposite and had ordered all Catholic priests to leave England. This so angered some Catholics that they decided to kill James and put his daughter Elizabeth on the throne ensuring that she was a Catholic.

This led to a plot to kill not only the king of England, James, but also everyone sitting in the Houses of Parliament at the same time as James was there when he opened Parliament on November 5th, The most famous picture of some the conspirators. The explosive expert, Guy Fawkes, had been left in the cellars to set off the fuse. He was only caught when a group of guards decided to check the cellars at the last moment.

The Gunpowder Plot

Fawkes was arrested and sent to the Tower of London where he was tortured and eventually gave away the names of the fellow conspirators. Sir William Wade, Lieutenant of the Tower, had orders to use whatever means of torture was required to get information from Fawkes. The order came from James. Of those involved, some were shot as they were chased by the law such as Percy and Catesby.

Others were captured, sent to the Tower and, after a brief trial, eventually hung, drawn and quartered, with Fawkes, in January The signature of Guy Fawkes on his confession. In celebration of his survival, James ordered that the people of England should have a great bonfire in the night on November 5th. This fire was traditionally topped off with an effigy of the pope rather than Guy Fawkes.

His place at the top of the fire came in later as did fireworks. The East Sussex county town of Lewes still has the pope alongside Guy Fawkes when it comes to the effigies being burned. But is there more to this plot than just a small number of angry Catholics wanting to make a statement against the king, James?

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605

Some believe that the whole plot was a government conspiracy to convince James that Catholics could not be trusted. At the very least, some curious things happened when the story is looked at in detail. That James only expelled priests was not good enough for Cecil. He wanted to remove Catholicism from England as he saw it as a threat. We know that James was terrified of a violent death; his childhood in Scotland had been fraught with danger including being kidnapped as a boy. What better way to get James to severely persecute the Catholics in England than to get him to believe that they had tried to kill him in this very violent manner?

The government had a monopoly on gunpowder in this country and it was stored in places like the Tower of London.

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