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Crime Gunpowder Plot

Beware the executioner

Today’s snippet is a description of the execution method favoured for traitors in Jacobean England. Sir Edward Coke, passing final judgement against the Gunpowder Plotters at their trial in 1606, omninously describes their impending death. This fate was subsequently met by eight of the plotters, including Guy Fawkes.

He shall have his judgement to be drawen to the place of Execution from his prison, as being not worthie anymore to tread upon the face of the earth, whereof he was made. Also for that he hath beene retrograde to nature, therefore is hee drawen backwards at a horse taile… hee must be drawen with his head declining downeward, and lying so neere the ground as may be, being thought unfit to take benefit of the common ayre: For which cause also, he shalbe strangled, being hanged up by the necke between heaven and earth, as deemed unworthy of both, or either: As likewise, that the eyes of men may behold, and their hearts contemne him. Then hee is to be cut downe alive, and to have his privie parts cut off and burnt before his face, as being unworthily begotten, and unfit to leave any generation after him. His bowles and inlayed parts taken out and burnt, who inwardly had conceived and harboured in his heart such horrible Treason. After to have his head cut off which had imagined the mischief. And lastly, his body to be quartered and the quarters set up in some high and eminent place, to the view and detestation of men, and to become a pray for the fowles of the aire.

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Crime Gunpowder Plot

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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