The Gunpowder Plot: Parliament & Treason 1605
Divided Europe
Political Violence and Persecution
Peacemaker - the new King
Conspiracy and deception
Discovery and flight
Torture, trial and execution
Aftermath: From Retribution to Toleration
Aftermath: Commemoration
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The Gunpowder Plot: Parliament & Treason 1605
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Political violence and persecution

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Shows title page of a book with Latin inscription reading Vindicia Contra Ty-rannos.
The title page of this book says that it was by 'Stephanus Junius Brutus' - a false name. It was widely thought to be the work of a French Protestant nobleman. Vindiciae contra Tyrannos, Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library.
In the sixteenth century many people found themselves on the wrong side of the religious divide. Protestants in Catholic countries and Catholics in Protestant countries could be seen as heretics or allied to foreign powers.

In many places religious minorities were persecuted. Some communities pledged loyalty to their government while peacefully exercising their own religion but some defiantly justified political violence.

Sixteenth-century Kings were seen as being appointed, or at least sanctioned, by God. To kill or remove them was against God's law, as well as against human law. But some communities now thought their monarchs were infringing God's laws by suppressing the 'true' religion, or promoting heresy.

The most powerful sixteenth-century call for the people to rise up against an ungodly monarch, Vindiciae contra Tyrannos (Argument against Tyrants), was published in France in 1579.

King Henry III of France had tried to negotiate an end to the religious war in his country but in 1589 was murdered by a Catholic priest. His successor, Henry IV, subsequently accepted the Catholic faith, bringing the war to an end in 1598 by providing for toleration for the Protestants.

The assassination of King Henry III of France in 1589

Trustees of the British Museum.

Shows an engraving of a man being tortured on a rack watched by a group of people.
Persecutions contre les Catholiques, par les Protestans Machiauellistes en Angleterre, Richard Verstegan, Theatre des Cruautez des Heretiques (1607) By permission of the British Library.
Over In England, Elizabeth I's government became increasingly nervous of the activities of the Catholic minority. 100 Catholic priests were executed during the reign of Elizabeth I. The government of the time thought it essential to the country's security to capture Catholic priests and sometimes used torture to get confessions or evidence.


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