Is the story we’ve been taught about the Gunpowder plot really treason by Guy Fawkes and the group of Catholic men, or has history gone the way of the victors once again?
What we’re told…
As midnight approaches on November the 4th – the eve of the traditional opening of Parliament – armed agents of the King raid a basement room of the Houses of Parliament. They discover and apprehend one Guy Fawkes. People know Fawkes today, of course, because protesters and “Anonymous” fans around the globe wear a [lightbox full=”http://historybud.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/guy-fawkes-mask.jpg” title=”Guy Fawkes mask”]mask of him[/lightbox] as they gather in front of financial institutions from New York to London. He is thus seen today as an icon of “resistance.” His age, 36, coincides with the number of barrels of gunpowder they find with him. They find a tunnel leading to the room. Fawkes is a known agitator for the rights of English Roman Catholics. In his possession are a pocket watch (a rarity in those days).
Had he succeeded in detonating the gunpowder, the next morning King James and his queen would be mangled bodies, as would all the members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Smoking rubble would be all that would remain of the Palace of Westminster complex, including historic Westminster Abbey.
Remember, remember, the 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
-Old English folk rhyme (anonymous)
So goes the palace version of the events of the late evening of November the 4th, 1605. The English public is stunned. It’s the equivalent of 9/11. “A cataclysm,” Adam Nicolson describes it in his book God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible. Upon his arrest, according to the official account, Fawkes admits his purpose was to destroy king and Parliament. Mr. Nicolson and others now cast serious doubt on that version. Many anomalies concerning the events have surfaced.
Soon all the pulpits of England echo the official account. Between 1606 and 1859 the Fifth is remembered in an annual service of thanksgiving in every Anglican church when ‘Guys’ are burned in a celebration known as “Bonfire Night”, writes James Sharpe in Remember, Remember: A Cultural History of Guy Fawkes Day. Until 1959, it was against the law in Britain not to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. Celebrate, because from the beginning the public was giving thanks that the realm was saved and the treasonous conspirators dispatched. For centuries effigies of Fawkes were burned. The palace version becomes historical truth for humankind including me – duped again! – for most of our lives.
Was it Really a False Flag Event?
The real plot, according to some historians, was royally successful: to invent a pretext for war with Spain and an excuse to persecute the Catholics which immediately followed. This fraud was the foundation of the British empire.
Guy Fawkes, the most infamous fall guy, is third from the right. Percy, center, was a double agent instigating the plot for the royal chancellor Lord Cecil.
Even now, few understand that plot: Guy was no fox but a dupe ensnared by the chief minister himself in a madcap scheme to blow up King and Parliament. The real plot was royally successful: to invent a pretext for war with Spain and an excuse to persecute the Catholics which immediately followed. This fraud was the foundation of the British empire. (More on Guy Fawkes: pp. 68-70 of 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA)
In 1605 James I Stuart, a Protestant who united in his person the crowns of Scotland and England for the first time and who ordered the translation of the Christian Bible that now bears his name, was considering a policy of accommodation with the Spanish Empire, the leading Catholic power. James was also considering some measures of toleration for Catholics in England, where the majority of the landed gentry in the north of the country was still loyal to Rome. An influential group in London, backed by Venetian intelligence from abroad, wanted to push James I into a confrontation with the Spanish Empire, from which they hoped among other things to extract great personal profit. They also thought it was politically vital to keep persecuting the Roman Catholics. Chief among the war party was the royal chancellor, roughly equivalent to prime minister, who was Lord Robert Cecil, the Earl of Salisbury. Cecil set out to sway James I to adopt his policy, by means of terrorism.
Acting behind the scenes, Cecil cultivated some prominent Catholics, one of them Lord Thomas Percy from the famous Catholic Percy family, and used them as cut-outs to direct the operations of a group of naïve Catholic fanatics and adventurers, among them a certain gullible gentleman named Guy Fawkes. Thomas Percy was supposedly a Catholic fanatic, but in reality was a bigamist. This group of Catholic fanatics hatched the idea first of tunneling into the basement of the Houses of Parliament from a nearby house, and then simply of renting the basement of the Houses of Parliament, in order to pack that basement with explosives for the purpose of blowing up King, Lords, and Commons when James I came to open the Parliament early that November.
But instead Guy Fawkes was caught going into the basement the night before the great crime was scheduled to occur. Fawkes and the rest of the plotters were tortured and hanged, and several Catholic clergy were also scapegoated. James I put aside his plans for toleration of Catholics, and England set out on a century of wars against the Spanish and Portuguese Empires, from which in turn the British Empire was born. Guy Fawkes Day became the yearly festival of “no popery” and hatred of Spain.
Concerning the Gunpowder Plot, the Jesuit Gerard concludes that “for purposes of State, the government of the day [meaning Cecil] either found means to instigate the conspirators to undertake their enterprise, or, at least, being, from an early stage of the undertaking, fully aware of what was going on, sedulously nursed the insane scheme till the time came to make capital out of it. That the conspirators, or the greater number of them, really meant to strike a great blow is not to be denied, though it may be less easy to assure ourselves of its precise character; and their guilt will not be palliated should it appear that, in projecting an atrocious crime, they were unwittingly playing the game of plotters more astute than themselves.” (Gerard 17)
Here we have an excellent definition of state-sponsored terrorism. Gerard’s method of proof is this: “It will be enough to show that, whatever its origin, the conspiracy was, and must have been, known to those in power, who, playing with their infatuated dupes, allowed them to go on with their mad scheme, till the moment came to strike with full effect.”
It should be added that James I does not seem to have been aware of the operation in advance. The plot was not directed against him; it rather intended to push him in a specific policy direction. After the event, James I does appear to have realized what Cecil’s role had been, at least to some extent. Father Gerard speaks of Thomas Percy, Cecil’s agent in the Gunpowder Plot, as a “tame duck employed to catch the wild ones.” (Gerard 152) But the fact that he was Cecil’s agent did not prevent Percy from being killed as part of the cover-up after November 5. At the risk of mixing metaphors, we can cite the opinion of a contemporary observer that Cecil, once he had secured the game birds he was seeking, hanged the spaniel who had actually caught them for him, “that its master’s art might not appear.” (Gerard 153)
The following Sunday, November the 10th, the King James Version of the plot is broadcast from the leading pulpit of the Church of England, that of William Barlow, Bishop of Rochester. Barlow thunders that the enemy, meaning papists, is satanic in its wickedness. The King, their hoped-for victim, on the other hand is, Mr. Nicolson writes, characterized as an unqualifiedly good man . . . virtually a Christ-figure.
Fawkes was not apprehended in a basement room but rather a ground floor room, one remarkably easily rented by the plotters. There was, accordingly, no tunnel. The authorship of the letter by which the King learned of the plot is murky. It was turned over to the King by the Royal Chancellor, Sir Robert Cecil, the Earl of Salisbury.
Sir Cecil I would characterize as the Dick Cheney of his day. Because plots were common at that time Cecil had an efficient network of spies seeded among Roman Catholic dissidents. He kept tabs on all plots the spies discovered. This one featured a large cast of characters from several cities.
Cecil kept the King in the dark about the plot except for the obscure letter. The gunpowder, it turned out, was of an inferior nature, unlikely to have achieved much result. This was odd, as Fawkes definitely knew a thing or two about gunpowder. He had developed expertise with it while serving with distinction in Spain’s army against Protestant rebels in the Netherlands. It’s conceivable the gunpowder could have been switched by someone; loads of it existed because of all the hostilities. Some handwriting on Fawkes’s confession differed from the rest.
Ignored until recently is a book by Jesuit historian John Gerard, What Was the Gunpowder Plot: The Traditional Story Tested by Original Evidence. Gerard died in 1606 but his book was not published for almost three centuries, in 1897, an interesting temporal fact in itself. While it’s true, as Sharpe writes, that accounts of the plot differ as per the biases of the authors, I find Gerard’s account pretty compelling. He writes:
“When we examine into the details supplied to us as to the progress of the affair, we find that much of what the conspirators are said to have done is well-nigh incredible, while it is utterly impossible that if they really acted in the manner described, the public authorities should not have had full knowledge…”
Exactly. The evidence points to a particular kind of false-flag operation. There are many variations. In some (9/11 being the leading example) an outrageous event is carried out by the perpetrators and blamed on the chosen enemy. In others (example, Gulf of Tonkin) nothing happens but a fiction blames the chosen enemy. The Gunpowder Plot is midway: a plot was underway but the precise intentions of the plotters can never be known. The main feature is that, with or without taking a hand in the plot, the Cecil elements manipulated events brilliantly.
Cecil was heavily involved in an influential London group known as “the war party.” It wanted to push James into a confrontation with the Spanish Empire, from which the group’s members hoped, among other things, to extract great personal profit.
The war party considered it politically vital to keep persecuting Roman Catholics. Sir Cecil set out, writes Tarpley, to sway James to adopt his policy by means of terrorism.
It amounts to this: Either Cecil and the war party made the Gunpowder Plot happen or they let it happen –and made sure of a brilliantly timed “exposé.” And if they let it happen they made it happen.
James himself had negotiated peace with Spain the previous year. His other advisors told him there was no chance of a general Catholic uprising and that no foreign Catholic powers were involved in the plot.
The King knew, Sharpe writes, that “the reality of Catholicism in England around 1600 was very different from the image conjured up in government propaganda and contemporary Protestant myth.” Sharpe again: “…even in the face of … persecution it seems that most of England’s Catholics remained loyal to their monarch and wanted nothing more than to be allowed to practice their faith unmolested.” (The parallel with most Muslims living in the UK and Canada today springs to mind.)
For his part, James downplayed the plot. “James and his ministers,” Sharpe writes, “showed more restraint than many modern regimes faced with similar problems.”
Nevertheless, the power of the imagery of what might have happened burned itself into the public’s psyche, and was repeatedly fanned by the Protestant and war promoting establishments.
The outcomes of this ongoing propaganda campaign are incontestable. Tolerance for English Roman Catholics is replaced by a period of terrible bloodletting for them. Numbers are killed. Catholics’ homes are burned. A string of laws is passed restricting their rights and liberties.
The English become “fixated on homeland security,“ Nicolson writes. An inclusive, irenic idea of mutual benefit between Spain and England – trade between the two countries, because of the peace treaty, had been growing –“is replaced in England by a defensive/aggressive complex.” All Catholics, of all shades, never mind their enthusiasm or not for the planned attack, are identified as the enemy.
Most significantly, war with Spain ensues. England’s course is set for a century of wars against the Spanish and Portuguese empires. England for various reasons comes out victorious and on these war victories the British Empire is founded in blood, deception and conquest.