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Why Did Guy Fawkes And His Companions Undertake This Act Of State Terrorism? What Did They Hope To Accomplish By It?

2271 words - 9 pages

On November 5 1605, a cellar located under the House of Lords filled with dozens of barrels of gunpowder was primed to explode with the hope of restoring a Catholic Government to England. This treasonous plot was however discovered only days before Parliament were set to resume and as a result the plot remained just that. It would be remembered by Catholics and Protestants alike in infamy and joy respectively and damaged Catholicism in England almost to the point of no return. So why did Guy Fawkes and his companions undertake this act of state terrorism and what did they hope to accomplish by it? The scene in early 17th century saw the accession of a new King, one whom the Catholics thought would bring an end to the suffering they had endured under the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth. However this did not eventuate. This accompanied with a lack of Papal support and the failing of Spanish diplomacy, a handful of men, whose outstanding reputations meant they were 'sought by all the most distinguished...for nobility and virtue' decided to commit this act of state terrorism. The act would create a new slate from which the conspirators could build a new government, and free Catholics in England from bondage.With the death of Queen Elizabeth, Catholics around England believed the persecution they had endured for so long would soon be over as James VI of Scotland and I of England, a supposed Catholic sympathizer was to ascend to the throne. The King, unlike his two predecessors, did not believe in the shedding of blood relating to religious matters as is evident is a letter he wrote to Robert Cecil before his reign began. 'I will never allow in my conscience that the blood of any man shall be shed for the diversity of opinions in religion'. In respect to priests, he would rather 'have both their heads and their bodies separated from this whole island' than be removed from one another. Although he didn't agree that men should die for 'errors in faith' and hence promoted a degree of toleration, he did not want the Catholic population to increase to the point where 'they [The Catholics] might at last become master.' It was due to this last fact that penal laws against practicing Catholics remained intact. But it is possibly due to Robert Cecil and the influence he had on the decisions of James that created the enduring problem for many Catholics, and indeed astounded them at the same time. Cecil's father was responsible for the execution of James's mother, Mary Queen of Scots and so why would he hold Cecil in such esteem? As Oswald Tesimond, alias Greenway pointed out: 'Furthermore they would never have believed that the king would take up so intimately and so confidently with those, and indeed only those who had betrayed his mother' and it 'seemed remarkable to Catholics that the King would not be bound to follow the footsteps and example of Queen Elizabeth' but indeed he did, just not to the extent. It became clear very quickly to Catholics in...

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