Notes: Episode 12, The Gunpowder Plot (Part 2)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


7:26 – The Lord Salisbury referred to here was Robert Cecil, First Earl of Salisbury. At this time, he was acting as Secretary of State to James.


23:13 – Holbeche House was owned by Stephen Lyttleton, who was sympathetic to the cause of the plotters. Oddly enough, the house is nowa nursing home.


26:58 – See here for more information about the rack.


33:05 – I couldn’t find any firm numbers, but it seems that Henry Percy was able to live a very comfortable life during and after his imprisonment, suggesting that the 30,000 pound fine was hardly ruinous for him. He was wealthy enough to pursue intellectual and scientific pastimes, including mapping the moon using a telescope before Galileo did the same and curating a fairly extensive library. He also had a bowling alley installed in the Tower of London while he was locked away, and I don’t suppose that those come cheap.


38:14 – I dance around what exactly drawing and quartering is, and here seems as good a place as any to explain: the convict was dragged to the gallows by a horse, where he was hanged until near death, at which point he was taken down. At this point he was normally disemboweled while still alive, and often castrated; then, he was beheaded and had all four limbs removed – in some notable cases by tying each to a horse that was urged to a gallop to tear the convict apart. The pieces of his body were then displayed in public. It was meant to be humiliating, painful, long, and public; drawing and quartering was as much about being an example as it was executing the convict in the most horrible way possible. I have been using the pronoun “he” quite deliberately; women were almost always burned at the stake instead of drawing and quartering. Although done for reasons of “decency”, burning is also extremely unpleasant, and I honestly couldn’t say which is worse.


43:18 – It’s a little disingenuous to say that the death of Elizabeth was the last chance for a Catholic ruler; Charles II converted to Catholicism on his deathbed, and his brother and successor James II also semi-secretly practiced Catholicism and increased freedoms for Catholics. The real difference is that James was deposed in the English Civil War in 1688, as England as a whole was now actively opposed to Catholic rule. This further demonstrates the fact that the death of Elizabeth was the last chance for a Catholic ruler to be accepted by the people of England, which is crucial to successful rule in a constitutional monarchy.


45:35 – The fake plot I allude to is the Popish Plot of 1678-81, perpetuated by a man called Titus Oates who claimed that Catholics meant to assassinate Charles II – ironic, as Charles would eventually convert to Catholicism himself. As his fabricated plot lead to false arrests and even executions, Oates was convicted of perjury when found out and sentenced to life imprisonment and being whipped through the streets of London five days a year.


46:21 – The Catholic Relief Act of 1829 was the real equalizer of Catholics in legal terms in England, allowing them to hold public office for the first time in centuries, but 1850 saw the return of an official Church hierarchy within the British Isles. This establishment of a diocesan system marked the widespread acceptance of Catholicism as a legitimate alternative to the state religion.


49:23 – It’s interesting that Bonfire Night sees the burning in effigy of Guy Fawkes, despite the fact that he was hanged, not burnt. Just a small thing I found notable. The fireworks make perfect sense, though.


55:05 – Oh no. I said that Frank Miller wrote “V For Vendetta”, when it was super clearly Alan Moore. I apologize profusely, as all I have to say in my defense is that this is why I have a notes section.



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