When James Stuart succeeded the childless Elizabeth I in 1603, Catholic hopes of reclaiming the throne were dashed. James had heirs, promising a continuing Protestant dynasty, and the disappointment provoked a rash of Catholic conspiracies, despite the new king’s relative tolerance towards their faith. Understandably, James’s initial tolerance dissipated, and he began to impose anti-Catholic measures. The serial conspirator, Robert Catesby organized the Gunpowder Plot, which was grander in conception than its predecessors. An undercroft was purchased in the warren of rooms beneath the House of Lords, and packed with 36 barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was designated to detonate the gunpowder during the state opening of Parliament, with the aim of destroying the country’s entire political leadership, including the king, in one ‘fell swoop’. However, while outbreaks of plague repeatedly delayed Parliament’s resumption, the plot was betrayed. Fawkes was apprehended, and the other plotters including Catesby, rounded up and executed.
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