Crispijn van de Passe the Elder: The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 (1605)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

An engraving made by the Dutch artist Crispijn van de Passe the Elder (1589-1637). This newsprint shows a famous episode in English history: the failed gunpowerplot of 1605. The plot was an assassination attempt against King James I of England and Ireland by a group of English Catholics led by Robert Catesby. The conspirators had hoped for more religious tolerance but their hopes quickly faded by the catholic persecution. The plan was to blow up the Parliament during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605 by king James. The plot was discovered when an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle (member of the house of Lords) which warned him to stay from the Parliament ("yet I say they shall receive a terrible blow this Parliament) - who sent the letter is still a matter of debate. During a search of the undercroft beneath the House of Lords one of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was caught redhanded when he was checking the 36 barrels of gunpowder he had placed underneath the building. The other conspirators were also quickly arrested although some attempted to make a last stand. All the conspirators were put on trail and sentenced to death by being hanged, drawn and quartered (Guy Fawkes fell from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck). The print at the top shows eight of the thirteen conspirators, including Guy Fawkes (he is the third from the right, this is the only contemporary depiction of him). At the bottom the execution of the group is shown. Engraving from around 1605.