Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trial of Gunpowder Plot Conspirators

The Gunpowder Plot was uncovered on November 5, 1605.  Conspirator Guy Fawkes was caught with approximately 1,800 pounds of gunpowder in a basement under the House of Lords.  After mastermind Robert Catesby and other conspirators were rounded up or killed, a trial began - on Janaury 27, 1606.  The punishment imposed by the court was death by being drawn and quartered.  Fawkes himself escaped this form of death by leaping from the scaffold, and breaking his neck.

Walter Scott sets his "The Fortunes of Nigel" during the reign of James I, and after the Gunpowder Plot:

"...In James's reign, on the contrary, the

coarsest pleasures were publicly and unlimitedly indulged, since,
according to Sir John Harrington, the men wallowed in beastly
delights; and even ladies abandoned their delicacy and rolled about in
intoxication. After a ludicrous account of a mask, in which the actors
had got drunk, and behaved themselves accordingly, he adds, "I have
much marvelled at these strange pageantries, and they do bring to my
recollection what passed of this sort in our Queen's days, in which I
was sometimes an assistant and partaker: but never did I see such lack
of good order and sobriety as I have now done. The gunpowder fright is
got out of all our heads, and we are going on hereabout as if the
devil was contriving every man should blow up himself by wild riot,
excess, and devastation of time and temperance. The great ladies do go
well masqued; and indeed, it be the only show of their modesty to
conceal their countenance, but alack, they meet with such countenance
to uphold their strange doings, that I marvel not at aught that
happens."

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