Catholics in England had expected James to be more tolerant of them. In fact, he had proved to be the opposite and had ordered all Catholic priests to leave England. This so angered some Catholics that they decided to kill James and put his daughter Elizabeth on the throne ensuring that she was a Catholic. This led to a plot to kill not only the king of England, James, but also everyone sitting in the Houses of Parliament at the same time as James was there when he opened Parliament on November 5th, 1605.
Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators, having rented out a house right by the Houses of Parliament, managed to get 36 barrels of gunpowder into a cellar of the House of Lords.
The other conspirators were:
Robert and Thomas Wintour,
Christopher and John Wright,
John Grant and the man who is said to have organised the whole plot
The explosive expert, Guy Fawkes, had been left in the cellars to set off the fuse. He was only caught when a group of guards decided to check the cellars at the last moment.
Fawkes was arrested and sent to the Tower of London where he was tortured and eventually gave away the names of the fellow conspirators.
Of those involved, some were shot as they were chased by the law such as Percy and Catesby. Others were captured, sent to the Tower and, after a brief trial, eventually hung, drawn and quartered, with Fawkes, in January 1606.
We do know that James’ chief minister, Robert Cecil, the Earl of Salisbury, hated Catholics and saw them as a constant source of trouble. Cecil also feared that there was a chance that James would be lenient with them during his reign and this he could not tolerate.
We know that James was terrified of a violent death; his childhood in Scotland had been fraught with danger including being kidnapped as a boy. What better way to get James to severely persecute the Catholics in England than to get him to believe that they had tried to kill him in this very violent manner?
The government had a monopoly on gunpowder in this country and it was stored in places like the Tower of London. How did the conspirators get hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder without drawing attention to themselves? Did they get help from the government?
How was the gunpowder moved across London from the Tower of London to Westminster (at least two miles distant) without anyone seeing it? The River Thames would not have…