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The Gunpowder Plot - Essay Example

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Remember the 5th of November is the mantra that has been celebrated for centuries. While the celebrations are symbolic, they by no means empathize with the plight of the many years of persecution that were perpetuated against English Catholics…
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The Gunpowder Plot
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The Gunpowder Plot

Download file to see previous pages... The failed plot to assassinate James I and the ruling Protestant elite tainted English Catholics with claims of treason for centuries thereafter. In this paper I describe the infamous Gunpowder plot before discussing its resolution and the implications for English Catholics before their emancipation. The year 1603 marked the end of an era where Catholics were in a transitional phase between rulers and had the opportunity to fundamentally alter their subjugate role within society. After nearly 45 long years as Queen of England, Elizabeth I was nearing death. It was assumed that her successor would be James VI of Scotland. Had this have been the scenario, Catholics would have been able to celebrate increased freedom as James VI was more lenient towards catholicism (Smith 1998). This was pleasing to the English Catholics as this could have marked an end to their suffering. They had suffered severe persecution since 1570, when the Pope had excommunicated Elizabeth, releasing her subjects from their allegiance to her. Additionally, The Spanish Armada of 1588 continued to make matters worse. To the Tudor State, it was held that each and every follower of Catholicism were potential traitors (Adams, 2005). They were forbidden to hear Mass, forced instead to attend Anglican services, with steep fines for those recusants who persistently refused (Smith 1998). Since James was more warmly disposed to Catholicism than the dying Queen Elizabeth. His wife, Queen Anne of Denmark, was a Catholic, and James himself was making vocal about his empathy with the plight of the Catholics. Moreover, historians contend that the early signs were encouraging to catholics as he ended their political dissatisfaction. In fact, he immediately ended recusancy fines and awarded important posts to the Earl of Northumberland and Henry Howard, another Catholic sympathizer (Questier, 2006). Catholics began to openly practice their beliefs as they became increasingly optimistic about their future in England (Smith 1998). While some individuals indicate that Catholics should have never felt any sense of security, others indicate that the Catholics were well on their way to emancipation. In his attempts to accommodate different religious demands, James was dissatisfied at their growing allegiance. This is because of his religious devotion to his own beliefs. Moreover, the uncovering of the 2 plots in 1603 created obstacles to James’ capacity to further empathize with the Catholic followers. The situation deteriorated further at the Hampton Court Conference of January 1604 where James I was explicit in his show of hostility against the Catholics in order to satisfy the Puritans, whose demands he could not wholly satisfy. Furthermore, in the following month he publicly denounced Catholicism. This was followed by every priests and Jesuits had being expelled as well as the resurgence of recusancy fines. The taste of freedom coupled with the abrupt 180 created an aura of desperation that hit home with some of the most devout followers. Specifically, Robert Catesby was a devout Catholic whose father had been imprisoned for harboring a priest. Moreover, he had had to leave university without a degree, to avoid taking the Protestant Oath of Supremacy. Yet he possessed immense personal magnetism, crucial in recruiting and leading his small band of conspirators. James’ discontent is arguably because of the fact that the Catholic followers were so devout to the pope. He assumably didn’t want to have his constituents loyal to another leader. This perhaps caused him to be more cruel to the followers. Moreover, many sources indicate that there were fears of the pope attempting to take over. This is why kings did not want to allow this religion to proliferate within their borders. As kings ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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