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The Shocked and the Saved

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  1. Introduction
  2. The only treason that remained
  3. The Palestine struggle and the constant feuding between Northern Ireland and Ireland
  4. The original conspirators
    1. Their reluctance to be responsible for the deaths of innocents
  5. The panic in the Parliament and the royal family
  6. The second element of the Gunpowder Plot
  7. Cocnlusion

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. [...]

[...] England would sympathize with the papists; Parliament and King James I would be forgotten in the dawn of a new revolution. Yet was Parliament to lose their lives in the name of legislation? Jesuits had been banned from England, but was the royal family to be banned into the next life? The conspirators alone saw the Gunpowder Plot to be an equal trade, death in the name of political equality. The only sympathy they earned from both their contemporaries and from generations of historians for years to come was for their naivety. [...]

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