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Religious Persecution in England: Life of Robert Catesby and Attempt to Blow up the English Parliament With Guy Fawkes

Updated on August 11, 2020
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An air warrior, MG has a checkered and also wields the pen forcefully with two novels and over 100 short stories

Robert Catesby
Robert Catesby

introduction.

Recently there was an animated discussion between my friend from the UK and a Chinese from Singapore. The subject was religious persecution and the English man pointed out that there was a lot of persecution of Christians in China. The Singaporean man who works under me mentioned that England also had its fair share of religious persecution and he pointed to the case of Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes. Not many have heard of Robert Catesby but the name of Guy Fawkes as the man who planned to blow up the English Parliament is better known. Robert Catesby intrigued me and I thought to write an article for readers who may be interested in history.

Robert Catesby is a figure in English History who is both tragic and perhaps misguided. He was born in 1573 and died in 1605 at the young age of 32. That's not a long life but he made a name in that span of life. He was the son of Sir William Catesby of Lapworth and Anne Coughton. Catesby was directly related to Richard III through his father. He was 6th in the line of succession. He was an important man in that era.

A point that is of some importance is that Catesby’s father was a staunch Catholic and a prime supporter of the Jesuit mission. His religious belief led to his arrest in 1581. Richard was only 8 years old at that time. His father was tried along with Lord Vaux and his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Tresham, for harboring a Jesuit, Father Edmund Campion. This arrest and trial had a traumatic effect on Richard who grew up as a strong supporter of the Catholic mission.


Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes

Life and Further

Early Years

Robert entered Gloucester Hall, Oxford in 1586. He left the university before completing his degree as he wished to avoid taking the Oath of Supremacy. He opted to go and study in France which had a predominant Catholic faith. He chose to study at the seminary college of Douai, Rheims. This is the city that houses the famous Notre Dame de Reims and for more than 1000 years, French Kings were crowned there.

The seminary college was founded by Cardinal William Allen and provided a course in moral theology, classical languages, and history of the church in England. This course and the test book written by the Jesuit Martin de Azpilcueta greatly molded the thoughts and subsequent actions of Robert Catesby.

Marriage and religious belief

Robert Catesby returned to England after completion of his course and married Catherine Leigh in 1593. He was 21 years old at that time.

Catherine came from an affluent family and brought an annual dowry of 2000 pounds. As she was related to the family of the Spencer’s, the fortunes of Catesby rose considerably. He had two sons from Catherine, one of who died in childhood.

There are reports that Catesby for a brief period left the Catholic faith and embraced the Angelical church. After the death of his wife and father in 1598 as well as his son, he reportedly returned to the Catholic faith. Probably the death of his wife, father, and son had some spiritual effect on him and he reaffirmed his faith in Catholicism

Catesby also believed in righteousness. We know that that in 1594, he gave shelter to Father Henry Garnet and other priests at his house. He also gave sanctuary to Father John Gerard, after he escaped from the Tower of London in 1597. There is a possibility that because of his connections with the royal family Catesby got away with these indiscretions.

Despite his religious inclinations Catesby was held in high esteem by both Catholics and Protestants and was part of the glamorous circle that surrounded the court. This affluence and popularity played a great part in protecting him from the rigours of recusancy.

When Queen Elizabeth I fell ill in 1596, as a precautionary measure Catesby and some of his friends from his circle namely John Wright, his brother Christopher and Francis Tresham were arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London.


Supporting Catholics, Guy Fawkes and death

Essex Rebellion

Now an event called the Essex rebellion took place in 1601. The genesis of the problem was in the fight for supremacy between Sir Robert Cecil and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. The rebellion was against Elizabeth I The rebellion collapsed and all the conspirators and Catesby were arrested. Catesby however escaped with a lenient sentence of a fine 4000 pounds. He was not awarded the death penalty for treason, as his role was very minor. Catesby had to sell his house to pay the fine. The Earl of the Essex was executed for treason in 1601 in the Tower of London.

Persecution of Catholics

Events now began to move at a fast pace. After the death of Elizabeth I, James I became King. He proclaimed on 22 February 1604, that all Catholic priests would be expelled out of his realm and reversing the appeals against fines payable. In April of the same year, the House of Commons passed a law that excommunicated all Catholics. In simple, language the Catholics were considered the enemies of the state.

Catesby was disturbed and decided on a drastic retaliation. He along with his cousin Thomas Wintour hatched what is known as the Gunpowder plot. The plan involved blowing up the English Parliament and the King. Catesby felt he was morally justified in his actions.

Guy Fawkes

Catesby also made overtures to Spain, but Spain did not help and in the treaty of 19 August 1605with England, no mention was made of the Catholics. Catesby and the conspirators now decided to go it alone. They recruited an explosive expert Guy Fawkes. He was born and educated in York and was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who fought for the Spanish. Catesby and other conspirators contacted Fawkes and he was tasked with placing the explosives in a cellar below parliament and explode it on 5 November. The date was chosen as that was the day parliament was to be opened by the king.

Failure of the Plot to Blow Parliament

The plot was discovered and Guy Fawkes arrested. Under severe torture he revealed the names of the other conspirators. Catesby and other consipirators escaped to Holbeche House. The house was surrounded by troops and in the ensuing gunfight, Catesby and his fellow conspirator Thomas Percy were both shot dead on 8 November 1605. Guy Fawkes day also called bonfire night is the day when Britain observes and celebrates the November 5 failure of the gunpowder plot

Death

Robert Catesby died young, but none can question his dedication and willingness to risk everything for the Catholic cause. As far as Fawkes is concerned he along with his fellow conspirators attempted to mount a terrorist attack on their king and government because of religious upheavals and persecution. Not different from what is happening today in other parts of the world.

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    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      10 months ago from Singapore

      There was certainly an ethenic mix of population in Ireland but the undercurrent as far as I see it was the Catholic faith. That problem lingered on and that's how we have the problem of northern Ireland which remains part of the British. Another point which I have noticed is that Scotland was better integrated with England. The army had the Scottish regiments but there is nothing like Irish regiments. On the contrary English rule over the Irish was I suppose a little harsh. What surprised me most was that the Prime Minister of Ireland at the moment is a chap called Mr Varadkar is of Indian origin from Maharashtra. He is visiting India many time but sadly I say sadly he is supposed to be gay and though I have nothing against gays yet I don't appreciate them at all.

      The Irish I think are basically peaceful people. That could be the reason they were unsuited to be slaves because I remember reading in another article that the slave owners didn't prefer them because they were not as strong as the blacks from Africa. However, the woman slaves were preferred for obvious reasons.

      Though slavery was banned much earlier yet the fact is that it continued into the 19th century. Slavery was perpetrated by the Ottoman rulers and it required the great battles of the mid 19 century between the European powers and the Ottoman empire to put a stop to it. I have been to Ghana and seen the slave Castle on the Atlantic coast close to Accra. I was told the castle was active right up to 1875. The Nationalists in Scotland are again wanting another referendum.I don't know what is the score on that. I will now sign of these comments by just stating that whenever I come to London I almost feel like I am in Mumbai at least when I go to Southall. Cheers.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      10 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Sorry, that third from last line should read "...we have the finest set of ruins..."

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      10 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Like Scotland, Ireland was largely Roman Catholic, and the population at large didn't speak English as a first language. To understand the population makeup of Scotland there's a book, written by Scotsman Prof. John Duncan Mackie, "A History of Scotland" that outlines population and politics. The makeup of the Irish population is also very divers, roughly the same as Scotland with Gaelic, Norse, Norman and Anglo-Norman. Scotland had the added Brythonic and Pictish mixture. Before the Normans answered a plea by the King of Leinster in the 12th Century to put him back on his throne in return for land, and Henry II took an interest in his subjects' activities there, there'd been hardly any common ground save Earl Godwin's intercession on behalf of a previous King of Leinster, Diarmuid, and his help through Earl Harold for Earl Godwin in AD 1051 when Godwin was ousted from his earldom (see the series "Godwin's Clan" on my Hub Pages).

      King Henry II, an Angevin king of England, oversaw the 'colonisation' of Ireland by Anglo-Normans. Next we see in Tudor times Elizabeth I seeking to corner the Irish over their support for her Catholic opposition in England, and the forestalling of support there for a Franco-Spanish invasion of England to support the Catholic lords in England. Lord Essex was singularly inept in his campaign, and was harassed by guerrilla methods employed by the Irish. Fast forward to the English Civil War and, as I said, Irish support for Charles I's cause, English Royalists using Ireland as a bolthole to attack Parliamentarians in England. There were also Catholics amongst Parliament's supporters, however ineffectual they were. The issue here was King v. Commons, and interference from across the Irish Sea and Channel.

      With Scotland things were different, the Scots didn't invade Scotland (the Scots were a Northern Irish/Ulster branch of Gaels), but were invited by the Picts who'd asked them to provide women of their 'royal line' to continue the Pictish line. With the royal Pictish males dying out the way was open for the Scots through Dalriada (NW Scotland), which was next door to where another ethic group had its kingdom, the Strathclyde Britons who were related to those in what we now call Wales (look at place names in NE and NW Scotland to see similarities with Wales). Add to that an influx of Angles from Northumbria at the time of its first king Ine, who wedded Pictish princess Baebba (see also the short "Northumbria" series), naming his fortress near the present border with Scotland 'Baebbanburh', Bamburgh.

      Again in England we've got several 'ethnic' groups, Angles, Jutes and Saxons as well as indigenous Celts who were not driven out as the Saxons in the south and south-west had done, and calling them 'Wealsc', the Saxon name for foreigners.

      The history of these isles isn't that straightforward, emge. Like that of anywhere else including India it's had its migrations and confrontations, each burdening the previous one with demands. The last invasion of England was in 1066, but the people who invaded were no complete strangers to those already here.

      Cromwell's harshness towards the Irish was exaggerated, the figures used maybe not 'fixed' but certainly judiciously chosen to make him look worse than he was. Between him and Henry VIII was have the finest set of ruins anywhere in Europe (abbeys ruined by Henry, castles ruined by Oliver). That's an English joke, by the way.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      10 months ago from Singapore

      One thing that stands out is that the English did not treat the Irish properly. I sometimes wonder how the English treated the Scots and the result is that Scotland is part of Great Britain. Have you thought what was the animosity against the Irish was it because the majority of them were Catholics?

      A lot of problem in Ireland was created by the great statesman Cromwell. He invaded Ireland in 1649 and laid waste the country. The Irish population declined by 50% and there were famine and plague. The Irish suffered 20,000 dead and another 50,000 were captured by Cromwell including girls and sent as indentured labor. I think the Irish never forgave the English for it. Nobody has analyzed why Cromwell was so harsh? Logically Ireland which is English speaking should have been part of Great Britain but it didn't happen that way. These are interesting facts of history and can be debated.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      10 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Now there's something new, although I have a feeling there's a lot of political 'smoke' in the figures. After the Monmouth Rebellion in the reign of James II (the Duke of Monmouth was one of Charles II's sons by one of his court ladies, he fomented a rebellion that was crushed on 5th July, 1685 on Sedgemoor near Bridgewater in Somerset by James II's troops after a disastrous night attack by Monmouth). The duke was executed and most of his followers shipped out to Jamaica. They were considered lower even than the African slaves and were forbidden to return to England (even though James II was ousted and exiled), the court that sentenced them to exile was headed by Judge Jefferies.

      The Irish peers may have been 'bought off', I don't know, but i'm always suspicious of Roman Catholic tracts that lay the blame for Irish problems with the English. English and Scottish Catholics at the time were also disenfranchised after the 1745 Rebellion, banned from holding office or commanding military personnel except at the non-commissioned level.

      The Americans can't judge us, as they held slaves well into the 19th Century, and George Washington himself had slaves. When asked by one of his Afro-American slaves whether they'd be freed when America got its independence he replied emphatically, "No". British troops made a landing on the east coast during the war on a strategic foray into American lines. On being obliged to withdraw they brought African-Americans with them who were able to make the voyage. Slavery had been abolished by this time through political campaigning by William Wilberforce. Chief objectors were the Church of England (high church), major land and plantation owners in the West Indies.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      10 months ago from Singapore

      https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/englands-...

      This is one of the posts I read on this subject. I can't say how true it is but then there could be some element of truth. I was aware that the Wellesley's were born I think in Dublin but they always considered themselves Englishmen first. I wonder what is the background of Dublin not remaining as an English enclave. The Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon and also has the distinction of fighting thousands of miles away in the Indian subcontinent. Yet I wonder why historians do not give him the same credit as they give to Napoleon as a military general. James II fled to France, somehow I can't stop thinking that Rommel did something similar and left 300,000 troops in North Africa.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      10 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Don't know where you read about the Irish being kept as slaves. True, Gaels were enslaved after defeat of their kings in the four kingdoms, but only by the Norsemen, and they were sold by fellow Gaels. Many ended up in Scandinavia, some in England 'owned and sold' by Norsemen who'd been booted out of Leinster (Dublin Danes) by Brian Boru in AD 1000.

      Roman Catholic priests in Ireland weren't averse to putting about horror stories about Parliamentary English troops at the time of and after the English Civil War. Royalist English troops often took shelter across the sea and one troop was holed up at Drogheda Castle and were given the opportunity to send out civilians who'd be given free passage away from the area. The troops may have told the civilians not to obey. Under laws of siege (everywhere) those who left the besieged towns were allowed away, those who stayed or resisted were treated as militant and killed. ALL Europeans understood that. After the Battle of the Boyne James II fled to France, as i've mentioned before, and he left those who fought for him to their fate.

      Slavery had been abolished in Britain by the time Ireland became part of the Union at the time of the Peninsular War in Portugal and Spain.

      The Wellesleys had been born in Ireland, although when someone said to him he was Irish he answered, "If you're born in a stable it doesn't mean you're a horse, does it". A lot of Anglo-Irish and Irish noble families lived in Dublin, then a Protestant enclave, the only cathedral in Dublin until the 20th Century being Church of England. The phrase, "Beyond the Pale" means those outside the Dublin area, i.e., Gaels. It's raised in one of the 'Sharpe' books by Bernard Cornwell, where Irish cousins of Arthur Wellesley visit him in Spain, in camp to persuade him to let them find one of their family captured by a sect who worship an Aztec god... So, not guilty M'Lord.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      10 months ago from Singapore

      Robert Clive is one of the greatest English men of all time. His biography "Clive of India" by Niraj C Chaudhary is a classic. I have done some study on Arthur Wellesley and how he won his spurs in India. The Dukes most famous victory was against Tipu Sultan and the capture of his fortress at Seringapatnam. There is an article by me about him on Hub Pages. As I have written the Scots very much part of the rise of the British Empire. The Irish were not in the same class and I understand many were kept as slaves. Finally, the Irish did break away from British rule. I read somewhere that the Irish were also treated as slaves along with the blacks but many did not prefer them because they were not as hardy as the Africans.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      10 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Clive was an administrator rather than a general, although he liked to dress in a smart red pseudo-military coat. The up-and-coming younger Sir Arthur Wellesley - yup, him again - was the younger brother of another administrator who set him on his path to military success.

      With inadequate numbers, Wellesley defeated a much larger force at Assaye through tactics. He too was transferred to a new post, in Portugal during the Napoleonic Wars. Spain had been bullied by France into an alliance and attacked Oporto. By a dint of good fortune the French were ousted from Portugal - the history is outlined in the early 'Sharpe' books by Bernard Cornwell - our oldest ally on the Continent, and the one country we've never warred against. During the campaign two things happened: firstly the Scots were allowed to wear their kilts again - banned after Culloden, only the Highland Scots grieved over not being allowed to wear the kilt - and secondly Ireland came into the Union. The Union flag now encompassed the red saltire of St Patrick and Irish troops such as the Enniskillens featured amongst the 'Redcoats' ("By God, I don't know what they do to the French but they frighten me!" or words to that effect spoken by Wellesley, by then the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo).

      Despite frequent floggings and hangings for theft or desertion, the Scots and Irish elements of the British Army and Royal Navy proved priceless. After the Crimean War flogging was banned in the British forces, punishments less severe and hard labour was introduced i instead. The Irish, Scots and Welsh units in the British Army proved their worth in subsequent campaigns including the outstanding stand at Rorke's Drift by the South Wales Borderers and auxiliary units.

      That Russian cannon from Balaklava will soon run out of iron at the rate VC's are won!

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      10 months ago from Singapore

      The Scots always had an independent streak but there is no denying the fact that they were equal partners in British rule. They are people who are stoking the flames of separatism in Scotland and some of them are asking for another referendum. This can't be accepted, as in that case all over the world anybody can ask for a referendum whether it wants to remain with the country or not. I hope to God it doesn't happen because I have strong connections with England and dozens of my relations are settled there. Before the China virus set in, I was a frequent visitor to England also.

      Yes, some of the fringe countries in northern Europe have a majority of protestants but the more populous nations like France, Germany, Italy and Spain are all majority Catholics.

      King Henry VIII and the Catholic Church were set upon a collision course from the outset of his reign. The suit for nullity of marriage by King Henry VIII from Catherine of Aragon was not the cause but merely the occasion of the break between England and Rome. I think it was basically the English character who wanted to dominate Europe and chart a separate path.

      The defeat in India of the French squarely with the French themselves. They had a brilliant general in India Dupliex and he was a step ahead of the great Robert Clive. But at a crucial moment, he was called back to France and that was the end of the French challenge.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      10 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      James VI of Scotland, aka James I of England was the first monarch of a united England - with Wales - and Scotland. He didn't bring about the Union as we know it now. That goes back to the late 17th/early 18th Century after a failed Scottish attempt to set up a colony on the Isthmus of Panama. That venture bankrupted Scotland and their powers-that-be approached the English government for a union. Negotiations had to be conducted in secret in the basement of an Edinburgh restaurant for fear of an uprising. The outcome of that was the Act of Union we know now, that Nicola Sturgeon, present First Minister (their equivalent of a prime minister, although in her case without a parliamentary seat) who's tried her best to rip up the Act and wants another general vote for secession of Scotland from the Union.

      The non-Roman Catholic states of Europe were England, Scotland, Wales, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden (which at the time included Finland) and the United Provinces (now the Netherlands and northern Belgium. Several states of what is now Germany were Lutheran Protestant. Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor was born in Ghent (I think), in what was then the Austrian Netherlands. Charles, being father of Philip of Spain spurred him to occupy the rest of the Low Countries, thus increasing possible jump-off points for an invasion of England. Henry VIII at the time was a staunch Roman Catholic before his approach to the Vatican of an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his older brother's widow, on account of her inability to produce a male heir. It's fairly 'tight' historically and politically, but it hinges on Henry's desperation for a male heir on account of internal pressures. As a scion of the House of Tudor if he didn't produce his male heir the kingdom could fall into the hands of the Yorkists (this was less than 50 years since the death of the much-maligned Richard III on the battlefield). His only avenue was divorce and marriage with an English noblewoman to secure that heir.

      The exiled John Wycliffe had a bible printed in English, which Henry was opposed to. Somehow priests had to be heard as communicating with a Roman Catholic god who only spoke Latin. Henry also spoke Latin but about 90% of the population didn't. Henry deployed ships in the North Sea (known then as 'the German Ocean') to stop Wycliffe's bible reaching England and as a good Catholic he'd tipped off the Spaniards, who arrested Wycliffe and had him burnt at the stake. Henry's need for a divorce brought about a rethink, and a new branch of the Church with the monarch as its head, the Church of England. The High Church still celebrates a mass with incense etc, the Low Church communicates in English.

      It's a funny old world, emge. The French and Portuguese had 'colonised' India before we plodded in, booted out the French (who must be cock-a-hoop with this new arms deal with India) and established 'the Raj'. Queen Victoria was its first queen empress (she'd been envious of her nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm, as 'Kaiser' means emperor, so she had to be empress didn't she).

      A large percentage of the population of the United Kingdom - as it became after union with Ulster, or Northern Ireland - was still Roman Catholic.

      Confusin', innit?

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      10 months ago from Singapore

      Yes, I am going through your older articles and will comment on them. In my view, Elizabeth I was a fascinating character. To top it she ruled for 45 years and very often is referred to as the virgin queen. I think she was the last of the 5 monarchs of the house of Tudor. She was also severe on Catholics. Sometimes I wonder how almost the entire Europe is Catholic but England is not. Another mystery I have been unable to unravel is that the British ruled India for 190 years but the protestants out of Christians in India are perhaps just about 10% while the rest are Catholics. Does Rome have more money and greater zeal? A bigger mystery is despite all the state resources Christianity failed to make headway in the subcontinent. Food for thought.

      James I, deserves credit for creating the kingdom of Great Britain. All in all a fascinating period.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      10 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      I recently covered the latter half of 16th Century English history through two stories (factual) if you want to 'saunter' across after reading this. Following Henry's death his sickly son Edward V! ruled for a short time and tried to rule even-handedly although his leaning - as with Elizabeth's - was toward the Protestant 'cause'. Some say sister Mary 'ushered' him out of this life through poisons, although many 'quacks' (physicians with a rudimentary understanding of the human body and medicine) followed the same 'recovery' routine, so it can't be proved one way or t'other. Mary may also have been 'ushered out of this mortal coil' due to the same lack of understanding, and Elizabeth poisoned herself in later life with face applications in a bid to 'keep her looks'. But for her experience with Mary, Elizabeth might've been more lenient with Roman Catholics.

      James VI of Scotland, (James I of England), her cousin on her father's side promised to uphold the Protestant right of succession in his coronation oath. He had 'other issues' on his mind aside from hunting witches (Shakespeare's 'Scottish' play made light of this and nearly put his neck on the block). It's understood young son Charles (another Duke of York, like Henry VIII who succeeded after the death of an older brother) was swayed by his French wife Henrietta Maria to the absolutist ways and Roman Catholicism of the French monarchy. His sons and grandson proved no different in their leanings... You know, "like father...". The first four Georges proved almost as colourful, but not in their beliefs.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      10 months ago from Singapore

      First thanks for pointing out the error which has been rectified. Bloody Mary is a pretty macabre tale. Even now it is thought that if you look into the mirror on a dark night and chant her name something supernatural will happen. Nevertheless she ruled for five years though denied earlier and in the bargain sent almost 360 people to death. That's probably the reason the name bloody Mary has stuck to her. You are right about her imaginary pregnancies but that is a rare medical condition. Mary died at age 42 in 1558 during an influenza epidemic (although she had also been suffering from abdominal pain and may have had uterine or ovarian cancer). Mary wanted to usher in a Catholic rule she tried desperately for a child so that a Catholic could rule England. She ruled only for five years and then her step-sister Elizabeth took over. She also didn't have a child but she was harsh on the Catholics. This is a fascinating period of English history which can both thrill and make you think. The present Queen Elizabeth II has been holding on to the fort for so long that her son poor Charles has been waiting for half a century to become king. I hope the poor chap gets a chance.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      10 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Interesting assembly of facts and dates that's begun unfortunately with a 100 year error. I think you meant Catesby was born in 1572 and died 1605. That said, the rest is salutary. Nice bit of digging.

      However... freedom of worship in the case of the Gunpowder Plotters meant a return to what 'Bloody Mary' stood for. She had all the bishops executed, burnt at the stake by her minions... those they could find anyway. some were able to make it to the Netherlands or Scandinavia (this was around the time of the Thirty Years' War, a Europe-wide campaign between the Protestant north and Scandinavia vs the Roman Catholic centre and southern states). In secret, Mary had secretly wedded Philip of Spain, son of Charles V, the Holly Roman Emperor. I say in secret because had it been found out it might've been her head on a plate. She persuaded herself she had been impregnated by him, a 'phantom pregnancy', to provide a Roman Catholic heir and a stage for a takeover of the English state by Spain and France. Philip however fancied Princess Elizabeth but she rebutted his advances. Had she shown any interest in him, however, her head would've been on the block outside the Tower (originally before the general public, on the green, then within about a century later).

      Mary went to her grave convinced of her pregnancy. However, had she lived AND borne a child - a son was preferable - England would've been a completely different scene, and our present notion of religious tolerance would've been a dream, as would that of the Americans.

      We subsequently had a Civil War of Parliament against King Charles I and execution of the latter on a high 'stage' outside his Whitehall Banqueting House designed by Inigo Jones.

      Why was Charles beheaded? Treason against the English people was established, whereby Charles had contacted the French and Spanish envoys with a view to invasion from Ireland. Charles II died before he too was 'exposed' as having led a Roman Catholic alliance against his English subjects. His successor, younger brother James II was also found to have plotted and was forced to withdraw to Ireland and would be defeated by his son-in-law William III at the Battle of the Boyne before fleeing to France. He was the 'Old Pretender', his son, 'Bonny Prince' Charlie led a revolt and claim to the throne of George II, pursued north by George's younger brother, the Duke of Cumberland, the 'Butcher' and also defeated, this time at Culloden by an army of Protestant Scots with artillery and cavalry. Exile followed for another of the Stuarts, this time to Rome (an apt bolt-hole for a would be Roman Catholic would-be king of England). His grandfather Charles II had ruled in Scotland until the death of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and submission of his son Richard.

      There is the prospect of another Charles on the throne after his mother either abdicates or dies 'in harness'. We have to expect this one will present no difficulties in a constitutional monarchy, although he sees himself as 'defender of faiths'.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      10 months ago from Singapore

      Pamela, thank you for commenting.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      10 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Robert Catesby was sure dedicated to the Catholic church. This was such an interesting article that I really enjoyed reading. I have heard of Guy Fawkes Night also, but I really didn't know much about the story.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh emge 

      10 months ago from Singapore

      Flourish, thanks for sparing time and giving your comment

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      10 months ago from USA

      I enjoyed this historical tale. I just really don’t understand why people cannot let others worship as they please. I had heard of Guy Hawkes Night but didn’t know much about the story supporting it.

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