November 5, 1605, King James I of England & VI of Scotland learns of The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason to explode the Parliament building has been foiled hours before he was scheduled to sit with the rest of the British government in the state opening of the second session of James's first English Parliament general parliamentary session.
On the morning of Tuesday, the 5th of November, 1605, which day was appointed for the opening of a new Parliamentary session, London rang with the news that in the course of the night a diabolical plot had been discovered, by which the king and legislature were to have been destroyed at a blow. In a chamber beneath the House of Lords had been found a great quantity of gunpowder, and with it a man, calling himself John Johnson, who, finding that the game was up, fully acknowledged his intention to have fired the magazine while the royal speech was being delivered, according to custom, overhead, and so to have blown King, Lords, and Commons into the air. At the same time, he doggedly refused to say who were his accomplices, or whether he had any.
This is the earliest point at which the story of the Gunpowder Plot can be taken up with any certainty. Of what followed, at least as to the main outlines, we are sufficiently well informed. Johnson, whose true name was presently found to be Guy, or Guido, Faukes,1 proved, it is true, a most obstinate and unsatisfactory witness, and obstinately refused to give any evidence which might incriminate others. But the actions of his confederates quickly supplied the information which he withheld. It was known that the " cellar" in which the powder was found, as well as a house adjacent, had been hired in the name of one Thomas Percy, a Catholic gentleman, perhaps a kinsman, and certainly a dependent, of the Earl of Northumberland.
It was now discovered that he and others of his acquaintance had fled from London on the previous day, upon receipt of intelligence that the plot seemed at least to be suspected. Not many hours later the fugitives were heard of in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and Staffordshire, the native counties of several amongst them, attempting to rally others to their desperate fortunes, and to levy war against the crown. For this purpose they forcibly seized cavalry horses2 at Warwick, and arms at Whewell Grange, a seat of .Lord Windsor's. These violent proceedings having raised the country behind them, they were pursued by the sheriffs with what forces could be got together, and finally brought to bay at Holbeche, in Staffordshire, the residence of one Stephen Littleton, a Catholic gentleman.
King James I of England Portrait painted by Paulus van Somer (c. 1577 – 1621), also known as Paulus van Somer, Flemish. James I of England & VI of Scotland, by Paul van Somer I. Oil on canvas, 196 x 120 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.
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TEXT CREDIT: What was the Gunpowder Plot?: The traditional story tested by original evidence Author: John Gerard. Edition: 2. Publisher: Osgood, McIlvaine & Co., 1897. Length: 290 pages. Subjects, Conspiracy, Gunpowder Plot, 1605