In 1604 England’s King James I convoked the Hampton Court Conference at which he found himself caught between the Puritans’ pleas for church reform and Catholics’ demands for greater tolerance. The king gave way to his Puritan advisers and introduced penal laws against Catholics.
Roman Catholic disappointment with King James I led to the Gunpowder Plot the following year. The first meeting of the five central conspirators took place on May 20, 1604, at an inn called the Duck and Drake, in the Strand district of London.
Eventually there were thirteen plotters – three of whom – Guy Fawkes and the brothers John and Christopher Wright were school-fellows at St Peter’s School here in York.
Guy Fawkes was discovered near midnight on November 4, 1605. He was found hiding in a cellar beneath the Houses of Parliament guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder, a length of slow match and a lantern. Fawkes and his fellow plotters had planned to blow up the king during the opening of Parliament the following day.
|Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot & the Taking of Guy Fawkes (c. 1823) by Henry Perronet Briggs.|
Guy Fawkes was arrested and taken to the Tower of London where he was agonizingly tortured on the rack until he named his co-conspirators.
Lord Monteagle, who exposed the Gunpowder Plot, was given a £700-a-year reward.
If Guy Fawkes had managed to blow up Parliament, it’s been calculated the 5,500lb of gunpowder would have destroyed everything within a 500 metre radius, including Westminster Abbey.
As the opening of Parliament had been delayed since February 1605 because of fears of the plague, some say that the plotters’ gunpowder was too old to explode anyway.
November 5th was a statutory holiday in Britain until 1859 under the Observance of 5th November Act 1605.
The 5th November Act described the gunpowder plot as “an invention so inhuman, barbarous and cruel, as the like was never before heard of”.
Source Daily Express