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The Gunpowder Plot

The Gunpowder Plot was the name given to the failed assassination attempt on King James I of England in 1605. Along with James I, this plot was intended to kill his family and the majority of the protestant aristocracy in one attack, by blowing up the House of Parliament during the State opening. The people responsible for this plot also planned to kidnap the royal children (who were not present at the opening) and later start a revolt in the Midlands.

The Gunpowder Plot was only one in a series of attempted attacks against the monarchy, which included the Main Plot and the Bye Plot of 1603. The Gunpowder Plot itself was planned in the Ordsall hall in Ordsall, England.

The plot was actually uncovered the night before it was to take place and while its origins remain shrouded in mystery (and indeed may never be cleared up), many historians generally believe that it was an attempt to re-establish the Catholic Religion in England. However some other historians, particularly in recent times, have surmised that the act was the work of a group of agent provocateurs who were bent on smearing the name of the Jesuits and therefore pave the way for the rise of the Protestant religion.

The Gunpowder Plot was actually the brainchild of five conspirators namely Robert Catesby, Thomas Winter, Thomas Percy, John Wright and Guy (or Guido) Fawkes. Robert Keyes later joined the group and they planned the attack to coincide with the State Opening of the House of Lords when the King, the Lords and the Commons would be present in the Lords Chamber.

Interestingly, Guy Fawkes who history has rendered infamously as the main conspirator of the assassination attempt was actually a minor player in the whole operation. Although born as a Protestant in 1570 at York, Fawkes later converted to the Catholic religion after serving as a mercenary in the Spanish Army in 1593. While in the service of the Spanish Army, Fawkes marked himself with an exemplary performance particularly in the Capture of Calais in 1595. He was deemed well suited for the demands of the assassination attempt, which required digging under the House of Lords. The fact that he was away from England for an extended period of time, and was therefore largely unknown in the country also made him an ideal candidate for the task.

The plot was discovered when an anonymous letter found its way to Lord Monteagle warning him to stay away from the opening ceremonies. Subsequently, a search of the Parliament was made and at midnight of November 4, Fawkes was discovered in the cellar along with a cache of gunpowder.

By November 12, all of the people involved in the plot were either killed or arrested with the exception of Robert Winter. Those who were left alive at this point were taken to the Tower of London where historians believe they were subjected to interrogation under torture. Fawkes and his co-conspirators were later tried and found guilty of high treason and were sentenced to death.

Original Authors:Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 26/02/2007

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