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Crime and Punishment – The Gunpowder Plot, 1605

2. English Catholics in 1605

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About this Lecture


In this module, we explore what life was like for Catholics in England in 1605. During the 16th century, the Protestant character of England was always doubt but with the reign of Elizabeth I this became increasingly less true. Elizabeth I increased restrictions on Catholics during her reign. Her excommunication from the Catholic Church fractured the Catholic community in England. Many Catholics were keen to work with her authority but some resisted all compromise. The plotters themselves came from this second group. They were gentry who knew each other well and were connected to the Earl of Essex's failed coup against Elizabeth in 1601. Crucially, the plotters worried about the fate of Catholics under the new king (and his sons) given that England was now at peace with Spain.


In this course, Dr Clare Jackson (University of Cambridge) explores the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. We start by taking a look at the geopolitical and religious challenges that accompanied James I and VI's accession to the English throne. We'll then turn to explore the dilemmas and difficulties of being a Catholic in England at the turn of the 17th century. After this, we'll explore the plot itself - what did happen and crucially what did not happen. In the next two modules, we'll look at the aftermath of plot both domestically and internationally. In the final module, we'll explore the longer term impacts of the plot and the history of the annual commemoration.


Clare Jackson is Senior Tutor at Trinity Hall College, University of Cambridge. She specialises in Stuart Britain from 1603-1715, the politics of multiple monarchy in 17th century Britain, seventeenth-century Scottish legal history and the history of ideas in early modern Britain. She has recently published a book, Devil-Land: England under Siege 1588-1688, and has also presented a number of BBC documentaries on the Stuart period.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Jackson, C. (2021, December 01). Crime and Punishment – The Gunpowder Plot, 1605 - English Catholics in 1605 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Jackson, C. "Crime and Punishment – The Gunpowder Plot, 1605 – English Catholics in 1605." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Dec 2021,

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