Gunpowder, treason and . .
The infamous conspiracy
The Gunpowder Plot was devised in May 1604 by Robert Catesby. It was intended as a protest against the monarch, King James I, primarily as an objection to another Roman Catholic ruler of England. The target was to assassinate the King, and as many members of parliament as possible, by blowing up the Houses of Parliament on November 5th, the day when the
King would perform the official opening ceremony.
Initially, a tunnel was planned but this was soon abandoned when it became possible to rent premises adjacent to the House. The property had cellars through which access was gained to those of the House. Over time, quantities of gunpowder were amassed underground and Guy Fawkes had the task of setting off the explosion.
Suspicions were aroused because another of the plotters, Francis Tresham, feared that his friend and brother-in-law, Lord Monteagle, was likely to die in the resulting explosion. He sent an anonymous letter warning Monteagle not to attend but this had the consequence of a search of the House on the night before the opening. Guy Fawkes was caught red-handed and under torture he revealed the names of his fellow conspirators.
Although they had by now fled London they met at Holbeche House in Staffordshire. Their presence became known and troops were sent. Three of the conspirators refused to surrender and were shot in the resulting fighting and the remainder were captured. Along with Guy Fawkes they were executed as traitors by being hanged, drawn and quartered.King James passed an Act of Parliament creating a public celebration for 'the joyful day of deliverance' (which remained in force till 1859) and to this day, the Plot is remembered on Nov 5th, variously known as Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night, Firework Night etc.
the houses of Parliament in 1604