Today on November 5, 1605, royal authorities bust the infamous Gunpowder Plot after stopping the English Parliament from being blown up.
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, also known as the Gunpowder Treason Plot, is one of the most famous assassinations attempts in history. During the sixteenth century, Britain was in the midst of a constant religious struggle between the Protestant Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. King James I of England (also James VI of Scotland) ruled as both the head of state and head of the church. While he actively tried to avoid religious tensions, he did permit the continued persecution of Catholics across England. Any hope of the king adopting policies of religious tolerance was quickly fading, and the country was on the brink of widespread revolt.
Robert Catesby led a group of English Catholics to rebel against the government and monarchy. He conspired to blow up the House of Lords at the State Opening of the English Parliament with King James in attendance. Catesby had at least thirteen other conspirators, including the notorious Guy Fawkes to help carry out the plan. Fawkes was the only one with any military experience and was responsible for the explosives. Local authorities discovered the plot only a few days earlier based on an anonymous letter sent by the English Baron, William Parker. Soldiers began searching royal palaces and government buildings looking for evidence.
At midnight, Fawkes was found guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder in the tunnels below the Parliament building. It was enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble. The conspirators immediately fled London and were pursued by the Sheriff of Worcester. Catesby was shot and killed while resisting capture. Eight of the survivors, alongside Fawkes, was captured and found guilty of treason. They were all hanged, drawn and quartered. Britain continues to remember the Gunpowder Plot by celebrating Guy Fawkes Day. This annual event typically involves fireworks, public bonfires and the burning of Fawkes’ effigies.
“Remember, remember! The fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason, why the gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot!”