Monteagle Letter

Today I thought it might be interesting to share the Monteagle Letter, the famous epistle that foiled the Gunpowder Plot and saved the King and Parliament.

The author of the letter has never come to light. There are countless theories as to who might have penned it, but the most likely candidate is Monteagle’s brother-in-law, Francis Tresham, an unenthusiastic and dithery Catholic on the outer fringes of the Plot.

The letter itself reads as follows ( I have standardised spellings):

My Lord, out of the love I beare to some of your friends I have a care of your preservation, therefore I would advise you as you tender your life to devise some excuse to shift off your attendance at this Parliament, for God and man hath concurred to punish the wickedness of this time, and think not slightly of this advertisement but retire yourself into your country where you may expect the event in safety, for though there be no appearance of any stir yet I say they shall receive a terrible blow this Parliament and yet they shall not see who hurts them, this counsel is not to be contempted because it may do you good and can do you no harm for the danger is passed as soon as you have burnt the letter and I hope God will give you the grace to make good use of it, to whose holy protection I commend you.

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  • October 5, 2009 - 6:48 pm | Permalink

    It’s a wonderful source isn’t it. James reacted rather nervously to the letter’s discovery (he was the Woody Allen of the English monarchy). A hasty initial search revealed nothing at all, but the inadvertent mention of Thomas Percy (see the warrant for his arrest below), known to have had access to the King, prompted a second thorough Taggart-style search by a clutch of ministers (with Monteagle tagging toadyingly behind). Thus, Fawkes was nabbed.

  • October 5, 2009 - 5:57 pm | Permalink

    What a fascinating source. I like to think the sleuthing James acted on it and sent his boys down to check it out, like some Early Modern Taggart.

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