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Gunpowder Plot, frustrated plan to blow up the British houses of Parliament and King James I on Nov. 5, 1605, the day set for the king to open Parliament. It was intended to be the beginning of a great rising of English Catholics, who were distressed by the increased severity of penal laws against the practice of their religion.

The conspirators, who began plotting early in 1604 expanded their number to a point where secrecy was impossible. They included Robert Catesby, John Wright, and Thomas Winter, the originators, Christopher Wright, Robert Winter, Robert Keyes, Guy Fawkes, a soldier who had been serving in Flanders , Thomas Percy, John Grant, Sir Everard Digby, Francis Tresham, Ambrose Rookwood, and Thomas Bates. Percu hired a cellar under the House of Lords, in which 36 barrels of powder, overlaid with iron bars and firewood , were secretly stored.

The conspiracy was brought to light through a mysterious letter received by Lord Monteagle, a brother-in -law of Tresham, on Oct. 26, urging him to not to attend Parliament on the opening day. The 1st earl of Salisbury and others, to whom the plot was made known, took the steps leading to the discovery of the materials and the arrest of Fawkes as he entered the cellar. Other conspirators, overtaken in flight or seized afterward , were killed outright, imprisoned, or executed. Among those executed was Henry Garnett, The provincial of the english Jesuits, who had known of the conspiracy.

While the plot was the work of a small number of men, it damaged all the english Catholics and led to an unfortunate increase in the harshness of laws against them. Guy Fawkes Day, Nov.5 , is the still celebrated as an English Holiday on which the effigies of the conspirator are burned.
See S. R. Gardiner, What the Gunpowder Plot was (1897); John Gerad, What Was the GunPowder Plot? M(2nd ed., 1897); Donald Carswell, ed., Trial of Guy Fawkes

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