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The gunpowder plot of 1605.


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#1 Stephen Turner

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 01:36 PM

Catolics in England had expected James 1st to be more tolerant of their religion, in fact he proved to be the opposite, burning many of them at the stake, and ordering all Catholic priests to be exiled. The plotters decide to kill James for these acts, and put his daughter Elizabeth on the throne(A known Catholic sympathiser) The plot was not just to kill James, but everyone present at Parliaments opening on Nov 5th 1605.

Sounds simple doesn't it, a group of Catholic plotters decide to kill the King, to prevent further acts of murder. banishment, against their co-religionists. Or is it?

1, The Government had a monopoly on gunpowder, and stored it at safe, well guarded sites, such as the Tower of London. So how did the conspirators get hold of 36 barrels of the stuff, without drawing attention to themselves?

2, How was the gunpowder moved across London without anyone seeing it, or the authorities becoming suspicious? London was a much smaller place than today, more a town than a City.

3, Why were men who were known to be angry Catholics allowed to rent a house so close to Parliament? and further, how did they move 36 barrels from that house to the cellers of Parliament, along with hay, straw, fuses etc, without anyone noticing?

4, Why, for the first time in history, was there a search of Parliaments cellers that conveniently found Guido Fawkes at the precise moment he was about to light the fuses?

5, Why were Catesby, and Percy(fellow plotters) shot to death before they could be arrested and tortured, so that the names of more conspirators could be found out?

Gunpowder plot, or false flag terror, meant to establish the Catholics for further scapegoating?

#2 John Simkin

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 01:50 PM

Catolics in England had expected James 1st to be more tolerant of their religion, in fact he proved to be the opposite, burning many of them at the stake, and ordering all Catholic priests to be exiled. The plotters decide to kill James for these acts, and put his daughter Elizabeth on the throne(A known Catholic sympathiser) The plot was not just to kill James, but everyone present at Parliaments opening on Nov 5th 1605.

Sounds simple doesn't it, a group of Catholic plotters decide to kill the King, to prevent further acts of murder. banishment, against their co-religionists. Or is it?

1, The Government had a monopoly on gunpowder, and stored it at safe, well guarded sites, such as the Tower of London. So how did the conspirators get hold of 36 barrels of the stuff, without drawing attention to themselves?

2, How was the gunpowder moved across London without anyone seeing it, or the authorities becoming suspicious? London was a much smaller place than today, more a town than a City.

3, Why were men who were known to be angry Catholics allowed to rent a house so close to Parliament? and further, how did they move 36 barrels from that house to the cellers of Parliament, along with hay, straw, fuses etc, without anyone noticing?

4, Why, for the first time in history, was there a search of Parliaments cellers that conveniently found Guido Fawkes at the precise moment he was about to light the fuses?

5, Why were Catesby, and Percy(fellow plotters) shot to death before they could be arrested and tortured, so that the names of more conspirators could be found out?

Gunpowder plot, or false flag terror, meant to establish the Catholics for further scapegoating?


See my page on the plot here:

http://www.spartacus...UgunpowderP.htm

I believe the conspiracy was really devised by Robert Cecil and Lord Monteagle. That Cecil blackmailed Robert Catesby into organising the plot. It is argued that Cecil's aim was to make people in England hate Catholics. For example, people were so angry after they found out about the plot, that they agreed to Cecil's plans to pass a series of laws persecuting Catholics.

It has also been pointed out that James I gave Lord Monteagle an annuity of £500 for life, plus lands worth a further £200 per year. Rumours soon began circulating that Monteagle had arranged for Francis Tresham to be poisoned while being held captive in the Tower of London.

As Robert Crampton pointed out in an article published in 1990: "If Guy Fawkes case came up before the Court of Appeal today, the... judges would surely... acquit him... First, no one has ever seen the attempted tunnel. Builders excavating the area in 1823 found neither a tunnel nor any rubble. Second, the gunpowder. In 1605, the Government had a monopoly on its manufacture... The Government did not display the gunpowder and nobody saw it in the cellars. Third, these cellars were rented by the government to a known Catholic agitator... Fourth, the Tresham letter. Graphologists (handwriting experts) agree that it was not written by Francis Tresham."

#3 Stephen Turner

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 03:29 PM


Catolics in England had expected James 1st to be more tolerant of their religion, in fact he proved to be the opposite, burning many of them at the stake, and ordering all Catholic priests to be exiled. The plotters decide to kill James for these acts, and put his daughter Elizabeth on the throne(A known Catholic sympathiser) The plot was not just to kill James, but everyone present at Parliaments opening on Nov 5th 1605.

Sounds simple doesn't it, a group of Catholic plotters decide to kill the King, to prevent further acts of murder. banishment, against their co-religionists. Or is it?

1, The Government had a monopoly on gunpowder, and stored it at safe, well guarded sites, such as the Tower of London. So how did the conspirators get hold of 36 barrels of the stuff, without drawing attention to themselves?

2, How was the gunpowder moved across London without anyone seeing it, or the authorities becoming suspicious? London was a much smaller place than today, more a town than a City.

3, Why were men who were known to be angry Catholics allowed to rent a house so close to Parliament? and further, how did they move 36 barrels from that house to the cellers of Parliament, along with hay, straw, fuses etc, without anyone noticing?

4, Why, for the first time in history, was there a search of Parliaments cellers that conveniently found Guido Fawkes at the precise moment he was about to light the fuses?

5, Why were Catesby, and Percy(fellow plotters) shot to death before they could be arrested and tortured, so that the names of more conspirators could be found out?

Gunpowder plot, or false flag terror, meant to establish the Catholics for further scapegoating?


See my page on the plot here:

http://www.spartacus...UgunpowderP.htm

I believe the conspiracy was really devised by Robert Cecil and Lord Monteagle. That Cecil blackmailed Robert Catesby into organising the plot. It is argued that Cecil's aim was to make people in England hate Catholics. For example, people were so angry after they found out about the plot, that they agreed to Cecil's plans to pass a series of laws persecuting Catholics.

It has also been pointed out that James I gave Lord Monteagle an annuity of £500 for life, plus lands worth a further £200 per year. Rumours soon began circulating that Monteagle had arranged for Francis Tresham to be poisoned while being held captive in the Tower of London.

As Robert Crampton pointed out in an article published in 1990: "If Guy Fawkes case came up before the Court of Appeal today, the... judges would surely... acquit him... First, no one has ever seen the attempted tunnel. Builders excavating the area in 1823 found neither a tunnel nor any rubble. Second, the gunpowder. In 1605, the Government had a monopoly on its manufacture... The Government did not display the gunpowder and nobody saw it in the cellars. Third, these cellars were rented by the government to a known Catholic agitator... Fourth, the Tresham letter. Graphologists (handwriting experts) agree that it was not written by Francis Tresham."


John, I believe its also true that Monteagle had a servant read the "Tresham" letter to him to establish a witness. Tresham's poisoning is , as you point out, also very suspicious. Is it possible that Cecil believed that James might reconsider his attitude towards Catholics, and acted to prevent this happening.. As I recall, the King had a morbid fear of violent death, brought about by being kidnapped when he was a child.

#4 Norman Pratt

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 01:47 AM

Gentlemen. I don't think I have answered every one of your points, but I believe I have made a start. As a Crypto-Protestant I declare my bias, and as an occasional Guardian reader I of course deplore the 200 years or more of scapegoating that followed the Gunpowder Plot.

In ‘1066 and all that’ the Gunpowder Plot is described as ‘by far the best plot in history’. Key Stage 3 History Textbooks in the UK, I’m pleased to say, present some of the evidence and invite the students themselves to pick the bones, so to speak. As with many modern political conspiracy arguments, more evidence may yet surface. In the meantime I’m inclined to give Robert Cecil the benefit of the doubt.

The political conspiracy, it seems to me, was that of the group of Catholic gentry led by Robert Catesby. Some of them had already been involved in the Essex Rising of 1601, itself a desperate gamble. The cause in 1605 was, it might be argued, a more noble one, that of replacing the anti-Catholic King with a Regency in the name of the Princess Elizabeth. Although in 1605 it was not yet clear that James was going to be a firm Protestant, a leading English Jesuit, Gerrard, had already pronounced his regime as ‘stinking’.

However, the plot to remove the regime was bizarre. The fact that the plotters planned to kill King and Parliament shows that they realised they would have to destroy the entire Establishment. The coup to follow this up was to be in the form of four separate risings. However, their intended royal hostage was not in fact where she was supposed to be, so a key element of the plot would not have worked. There is also some doubt whether the gunpowder, in storage since June, would have worked. In any case, if it had worked, plenty of ‘Establishment’ figures who had not been in the building would no doubt have led a Protestant back-lash.

All this assumes there was not some Catholic lord lurking in the background waiting to give real muscle to the rising. However, neither the plotters under torture nor subsequent historians have come up with a definite candidate. Perhaps the conspirators thought their rising would be a kind of re-run of Mary Tudor’s dramatic and popular seizure of power from Lady Jane Grey. Perhaps they simply thought that God was on their side and that therefore all the apparent obstacles would be swept aside.

The procurement of gunpowder was no problem. The long war with Spain was finally running down, so there was a strong incentive for officials to dispose of their surplus stocks. (Such things have been known.) The tunnel was not a key part of the conspiracy, since it was abandoned when the conspirators hired the basement beneath the Parliament building. Neither is it strange that dangerous characters were allowed near (or even under) sensitive buildings: Tudor authorities had a more laid-back attitude to political violence such as riot.

Because of that, the eventual discovery of the Plot was probably a real shock.to the authorities. After that, I believe Cecil may have waited till the last (dramatic) moment before arresting Guy Fawkes, in order to net the maximum number of conspirators. The letter to Lord Monteagle may therefore have been written with Cecil’s knowledge (or even dictated by Cecil) - when it became time to close the trap. In any case the government suspected there were many others involved in the outer ring of the plot, but despite the interrogation of what remained of the inner ring of conspirators after the Plot had been put down, they were not discovered.

Cecil has, I believe, had an unfair press. He was probably as capable as his more famous father, and it was certainly the failure of Elizabeth and her advisers to control either expenditure or income that landed Robert Cecil, Lord Salisbury, with a near impossible task. On his death in 1612 the standard of government rapidly declined. (Or to put it another way, there was no-one left to act as a check on King James.)

But the Gunpowder Plot was a Catholic Plot, not Cecil’s. I largely came to this conclusion after listening to Dr Mark Nicholls at a meeting of the Cambridge History Forum last year. He is the Librarian of St John’s College Cambridge, and has apparently written “Investigating Gunpowder Plot”. There’s also some interesting information, some of which backs up my argument on http://www.channel4....tton.html#flaws

#5 Paul Rigby

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 10:00 PM

5, Why were Catesby, and Percy(fellow plotters) shot to death before they could be arrested and tortured, so that the names of more conspirators could be found out?


Answer: Percy was a Cecilian "projector"!

John Gerard, S.J. What was the Gunpowder Plot? The Traditional Story Tested by Original Evidence (London: Osgood, McIlvane & Co., 1897), pp.152-3

“Immediately before the fatal Fifth of November, Percy had been away in the north, and he returned to London only on the evening of Saturday, the 2nd. Of this return, Cecil, writing a week later, made a great mystery, as though the traitor’s movements had been of a most stealthy and secret character, and declared that the fact had been discovered from Faukes only with infinite difficult, and after many denials. It happens, however, that amongst the State Papers is preserved a pass dated October 25th, issued by the Commissioners of the North, for Thomas Percy, posting to Court upon the King’s especial service, and charging all mayors, sheriffs, and postmasters to provide him with three good horses all along the road.”

Paul

#6 Norman Pratt

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 11:07 AM

QUOTE


5, Why were Catesby, and Percy(fellow plotters) shot to death before they could be arrested and tortured, so that the names of more conspirators could be found out?

The plotters died at Holbeach House on November 8th 1605. They were killed by an over-zealous sheriff’s posse – the sheriff being the High Sheriff of Worcestershire. The man responsible, John Streete of Worcester, later claimed compensation for his excellent marksmanship, having killed them both with one shot (though possibly two ‘bullets’). They, and other plotters, who had a reputation for their swordsmanship and therefore probably invited engagement at more than arm’s length, were killed, by the Sheriff’s men, who then quickly relieved them of their valuables. If Percy was there to spy on his friends, he certainly played the part of a plotter to the end.

The official story, ‘The King’s Book’, recounts how the Plot leaders were killed in the assault on Holbeach House in Staffordshire, where they had fled after the Plot’s discovery in London. The official orders were that the Plotters were to be taken alive, as can be seen from several ‘Proclamations’. Thomas Winter’s ‘Declaration’ - i.e. confession, dating from the 23rd November - refers to Catesby and Percy, standing in a tight knot with Thomas Winter, who was already wounded, in an attempt to defend the courtyard of Holbeach House. Winter believed that Catesby and Percy were killed by a single bullet passing through both of them - while he survived, despite being stabbed with a pike. All 3 of these documents, and many more relevant to the Plot, can be found at
http://www.gunpowder...rg/gun-plot.htm

The King’s Book claimed that after their drying gunpowder exploded, killing and injuring many of the Plotters, some of them developed a guilty conscience about their actions. Another account claims that after the skirmish the wounded Catesby crawled back to the house to kiss a picture of the Virgin Mary before he died. Winter’s account, despite being more laid-back, looks a bit like the end scene of ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ or perhaps a scene from ‘The Three Musketeers’:

“When I came, I found Mr. Catesby reasonable well, Mr. Percy, both the Wrights, Mr. Rokewood and Mr. Grant. I asked them what they resolved to do. They answered "We mean here to die." I said again I would take such part as they did. About eleven of the clock came the company to beset the house, and as I walked into the court was shot into the shoulder, which lost me the use of my arm. The next shot was the elder Wright struck dead ; after him the younger Mr. Wright, and fourthly Ambrose Rokewood. Then, said Mr. Catesby to me (standing before the door they were to enter), " Stand by, Mr. Tom, and we will die together." "Sir," quoth I, "I have lost the use of my right arm and I fear that will cause me to be taken." So as we stood close together Mr. Catesby, Mr. Percy and myself, they two were shot (as far as I could guess, with one bullet), and then the company entered upon me, hurt me in the belly with a pike and gave me other wounds, until one came behind and caught hold of both my arms …..”

It would be interesting to see other accounts of what happened at Holbeach House.

The pass from the Council of the North, dated October 24th, can also be seen (though possibly not very easily read!) on the above website. In itself it is not suspicious at all. Thomas Percy had been made a Gentleman Pensioner in June 1605, a post that required him from time to time to stand guard with a halberd close to the King! Apart from this duty Thomas Percy spent part of the Summer and Autumn working for his kinsman and patron, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, on his estates in the north of England. Thomas Percy was therefore a trusted lieutenant of one of the most powerful men in the kingdom; the Council of the North was a powerful regional government; and Thomas Percy would have been a natural courier. He made his way south about a week after the pass was issued, having been warned, probably by Guy Fawkes, that the existence of the Plot had been discovered and they needed to act quickly.

John Gerard, S.J. What was the Gunpowder Plot? The Traditional Story Tested by Original Evidence (London: Osgood, McIlvane & Co., 1897), pp.152-3

“Immediately before the fatal Fifth of November, Percy had been away in the north, and he returned to London only on the evening of Saturday, the 2nd. Of this return, Cecil, writing a week later, made a great mystery, as though the traitor’s movements had been of a most stealthy and secret character, and declared that the fact had been discovered from Faukes only with infinite difficult, and after many denials. It happens, however, that amongst the State Papers is preserved a pass dated October 25th, issued by the Commissioners of the North, for Thomas Percy, posting to Court upon the King’s especial service, and charging all mayors, sheriffs, and postmasters to provide him with three good horses all along the road.”


John Gerard, S.J. was I think the first modern historian to challenge the official account of the Plot. I would very much like to find a copy of this book, and to read what Cecil wrote which struck him as suspicious. He may be right about Cecil making ‘a great mystery’ - but the pass doesn’t help us explain this.

The inner group of plotters was a tightly knit group. Most were Catholic gentry suffering from the financial penalties imposed on their faith, most were linked to the others by family and personal ties, most came from Yorkshire, most were expert swordsmen, most had taken part in the Essex rising at the end of Elizabeth’s reign, and were deeply disappointed by James l’s resumption of the laws against ‘recusants’. Their part in the Essex rising suggests there was more of ‘The Three Musketeers’ about them than the religious fanatic. Had the Gunpowder Plot succeeded, there is a strong argument for saying that the Protestant backlash would have been decisive and bloody.

Even the immediate follow-up to the planned explosion was not thought-through:

However, their intended royal hostage was not in fact where she was supposed to be, so a key element of the plot would not have worked.



Actually, not quite that. James daughter Elizabeth was at Combe Abbey in Warwickshire, where she was meant to be, but her feisty reaction on hearing the news of the Gunpowder Plot shows she would never have made a good puppet ruler.

Percy had an additional motive for his involvement. At the end of Elizabeth l’s reign he had personally carried out negotiations, on behalf of the earl of Northumberland, with King James Vl of Scotland, regarding the Succession. He claimed that James had given him his word that if he became King of England the persecution of Catholics would cease. He therefore lost face in the Catholic community when it became clear that James had broken his word.

It is difficult to believe that any in the inner group of plotters betrayed the others. But we know that as they began to widen their circle of conspirators a common reaction by fellow Catholics was that the Plot would damage their position still further. Lord Monteagle seems a prime candidate for being the one who betrayed the Plot, though probably much earlier in the proceedings than the official account, featuring the ‘Monteagle letter’, would have us believe. Much of the doubt surrounding the official account of events concerns Monteagle. For example Thomas Winter’s confession mentioned above has two versions, the revised version, heavily doctored by Cecil, removing all references to Monteagle.

As a 17th Century civil servant and Catholic plotter, Percy’s double game forced him into behaviour that characterises him not as a ‘projectile’ but more a self–propelled magic bullet.



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