World history is full of brutality. Wars and conquests, rapes and massacres; savage displays of the primitive monster man has always been and always will be. Yet more disgusting than any military operation is the mutilation of religion in the face of political gain. Murderers claiming religious vindication, men and women cleansing themselves of blame in so-called acts of faith and holy bloodshed. The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, while narrowly averted, was simply another violent solution to the oppression of English Catholics that had steadily worsened throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The optimism of the new Scottish ruler was evident in his attempts to satisfy both the Catholic and Protestant populations of his new sovereignty. "I will never allow in my conscience that the blood of any man shall be shed for diversity of opinions in religion," wrote King James I in an early letter to Robert Cecil (Fraser 38). But the desire for religious supremacy loosely disguised as the desire for religious tolerance is not so easily satisfied by words and empty promises, and the stupidity of King James nearly cost him his life and lives of Parliament. The engineers of the Gunpowder Plot earned their infamy as the first modern terrorists. However, defining terrorism is a subjective process, and the question remains: was the Gunpowder Plot an act of terrorism or a justified act of desperation? Four centuries of debate have proven the former. The Gunpowder Plot seeped into historical texts not only as the first terrorist act of its kind, but as a defining example of terrorism and the difficulty of assigning such a label.
[...] “Double effect” was based around the duel nature, both good and bad, of any specific action. There were . three conditions which had to be fulfilled for the double- effect principle to operate. First of all, the good effect had to be disproportionalitely important compared to the bad effect; secondly, the bad effect had to be involuntary, rather than in any way desired; thirdly, both good and bad effects had to be so closely linked as to be brought about more or less simultaneously. [...]
[...] They did not have to pull the trigger; their consciences were spared the guilt of directly inflicting pain and agony on a fellow human being face to face. More importantly, the use of fire and explosion eliminated any hope for pity. There could be no last minute change of heart. A victim had no hope of pleading with his killer, no hope of earning forgiveness. A victim could not escape, and had no means of defense. The psychological desperation of awaiting an unavoidable death is the truest definition of terrorism, an idea the conspirators found only just after years of Catholic persecution. [...]
[...] Societies lost in the wake of daily bombings and shootings can be assumed to have found a kind of normalcy in these events. Bombings do not create terror as much as they do an atmosphere of unchanged; children are numb to the sadness of losing parents. However, the Gunpowder Plot did create terror; it created terror for a king, for a government, for a country, and for a religious institution spanning an entire continent. The original conspirators designed the Gunpowder Plot on the grounds that the impact would devastate more than Parliament alone. [...]
[...] Yet in comparison to Queen Elizabeth who in response to the anti-Protestant actions of her sister specifically sought out and created reasons to burn Jesuits, he was a source of faith. With the correct amount of pressure and enough sympathizers in Parliament, pro-Catholic legislation could easily be a realization. The conspirators were in a lonely position, for most of their religious peers were loyal to the king. distinction between a lawful and an unlawful ruler was crucial,” and even in Rome, King James I could not be proven unlawful by any means (Fraser 105). [...]
[...] King Richard I claimed Jerusalem for Christianity, just one of many kings to enter Muslim land and slaughter the common people, defining those who refused conversion as threats to the state. However, a Muslim recollection of the Crusades would contain a very different interpretation of the innocent and the corrupt. The same holds true for September as it would have on November 1605: to most, no one deserved to die, but to the small group of individuals holding the fuse, everyone deserved to die. [...]
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