Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Gunpowder: The Players Behind the Plot

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Gunpowder: The Players Behind the Plot

Article excerpt

Gunpowder: The Players behind the Plot. By James Travers. (Richmond, Surrey, UK: National Archives. 2005. Pp. 192. $36.00.)

The accession of James I to the English throne in 1603 raised the hopes of several of the various religious factions within the realm. On one hand, English Puritans hoped that James would be the Moses ready to deliver them to a godly paradise. On the other, English Catholics also saw reason for hope. James was the son of the Catholic martyr, Mary, Queen of Scots, and had expressed support for religious toleration.

James, however, dashed the hopes of both groups by proclaiming his steadfast allegiance toward moderation and the compromise embodied in the Thirty-Nine Articles. No serious reform in either direction would take place. Catholics, with perhaps the highest expectations, were the most disappointed. Moreover, the conclusion of a peace treaty with Spain in 1604 removed the possibility that they could be rescued from the throes of heresy by foreign intervention.

Believing that they were in desperate straits, a small band of disappointed Catholics resolved to deliver a master stroke by which their faith could be restored. Like modern Mafiosos who knew that if they eliminated one of their enemies, they must eliminate them all, they concocted a plan to blow up the king and members of both Houses of Parliament at the opening of the session in 1605. …

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