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Friday, November 3, 2017

Two Sides to Every Story: After the Gunpowder Plot – Terror or Tolerance in 1617?

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Today I have the opportunity to welcome Tony Morgan, back to The Maiden’s Court.  Tony is the author of the previously released  Remember, Remember the 6th of November and the newly released 1617.  Tony stopped by and contributed with a post in this series last year and is back around for round 2!  This time looking at what happened as a result of the Gunpowder Plot.

After the Gunpowder Plot – Terror or Tolerance in 1617?

Last year I wrote my first guest Two Sides to Every Story focused on the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. I asked if Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators were terrorists or freedom fighters?

That post was born from my fascination with the parallels between the Gunpowder Plot and the modern day - religious tensions, terrorists on the streets of London, concerns over government surveillance and conflict between Britain and Europe. This in turn was the backdrop for my debut novel, Remember, Remember the 6th of November”. The book described a tense race against time to prevent a country’s descent into all out civil war. As the minutes passed by and we reached the 5th and then the 6th of November, we discovered if the plot would succeed or fail…

Of course, we know in reality the Gunpowder Plot didn’t succeed. Parliament wasn’t destroyed. King James I went on to live until 1625. He was succeeded by his son Charles, who eventually led the country into the English Civil War, which also raged across Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Thinking about this, a number of months ago the two classic words “what if” formed in my mind. In particular what if the King had been killed by the Gunpowder Plotters? What would have happened?

Two major possibilities stand out. Firstly, and perhaps most likely, the country would have slipped into reprisals and even civil war fuelled by religious differences. Protestants and Catholics would have fought hand to hand, and door to door. This was already happening and would continue to happen for decades across much of the rest of Europe.

The historical facts of the immediate aftermath are relatively clear. Guy Fawkes was already being tortured in the Tower of London. The leader of the Catholic conspirators, Robert Catesby, and his fellow plotters were grouped together in the English Midlands and being pursued by the authorities. Whether the King was alive or dead, it appears most likely they would have been killed in any case.

Would these reprisals have stopped with the Gunpowder Plotters or extended to attacks on all known Catholics, who in turn would have had little choice to fight back? We know from human history, before and since, that isolated actions of a few can lead to dire consequences for many.

My hope is, even in the circumstances, those who filled the political void left by the destruction of the King, his sons and most of his government in Parliament would have recognized the benefits of restraint. After all who would have benefited from a bloody civil war, other than the French or Spanish eyeing up the potential of another invasion attempt from across the Channel?

If this had happened, protectors would have been needed for the royal princesses. King James’ elder daughter Princess Elizabeth would have become Queen but she was only nine. Interim leaders would be needed to make decisions on her behalf until she could properly hold the reins of power.

Elizabeth was being raised a Protestant like her father. If her advisors recognized the importance of unity to avoid civil war and prevent invasion, perhaps they would have introduced a policy of religious tolerance, where the official Church of England remained Protestant but the people were free to worship in the church of their choice, even if it was of a Catholic denomination?

If all this had happened, the young Queen Elizabeth II would not have been safe. Extremists of both religions and enemy nations would have wished to undermine any policies of tolerance and unseat her from the throne, which would have inevitably led to her death. In parallel, scheming politicians, princes and kings would have sought her hand in marriage to gain control of the country.

In addition, Elizabeth would have to face up to the troubles in Ireland. After decades of war and enmity, it was unlikely short-term policies of tolerance would easily have made it across the Irish Sea. How could she preach tolerance if it was not even practiced in one of her own kingdoms?

From all this, I devised the world, plot and characters for my second novel 1617”. Queen Elizabeth selects Sir Everard Digby as her peace envoy for Ireland but he’s a man with a secret past linked to his role in the Gunpowder Plot which she mustn’t discover. Digby travels to Ireland and faces shipwreck, attack from both sides and the attentions of a Puritan assassin. A plot is hatched against the Queen by Protestant Puritans and Catholic Jesuits manipulated by a French female spymistress who wishes to see Digby dead.

Can the twenty-one-year old Queen Elizabeth II and her policies religious tolerance survive? Find out in 1617”.

Tony Radio Interview

Tony Morgan lives in Yorkshire in the UK, close to the birthplace of Guy Fawkes. His books have been described as a perfect read for lovers of the works of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris and anyone interested in how historic events have shaped our own times.

All profits for both his books in 2017 are being shared to York Teaching Hospital Charity which supports patients with conditions such as dementia stroke and those receiving chemotherapy.

Find Tony Morgan: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Final Book Cover 1617

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Book Blurb:

1617 is the exciting sequel to Remember, Remember the 6th of November - a thrilling alternate history filled with secrets, treachery and intrigue. Queen Elizabeth has transformed England into a centre for religious tolerance but conflict is brewing across Europe and there are continued troubles in Ireland. A peace envoy is needed. Sir Everard Digby appears the perfect choice but he’s a man with a secret past which the Queen must never discover…

All profits for both his books in 2017 are being shared to York Teaching Hospital Charity which supports patients with conditions such as dementia stroke and those receiving chemotherapy.  Please spread the word!

Remember, Remember the 6th of November

Book Cover Remember Remember

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Final Book Cover 1617

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

1 comment:

  1. Always an interesting thought looking at both sides. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.


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