Today, I welcome Tony Morgan, another 17th century enthusiast. Tony writes historical speculative fiction set during the early Stuart era, specifically around the time of the Gunpowder Plot.
Tony’s first book, Remember, Remember the 6th of November, was a reimagining of the 5th of November Gunpowder plot. If you are interested in learning more about his debut novel, check out this guest post, titled “The Gunpowder Plot” (click here). Tony’s follow up novel, 1617, recently came out and picks up twelve years later.
Join me in welcoming Tony Morgan who discusses how the history of England might have changed had the Gunpowder Plot succeeded.
This guest blog explores what may have happened if the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 had been successful. Many believe England would have slipped into a deadly civil war between Protestant and Catholic factions. After all, this is exactly what happened across much of the rest of Europe in the 17th Century.
If the attack on the opening of Parliament had been successful, Protestant King James I and his sons, Princes Henry and Charles, would have been killed, along with many other leading establishment figures of the day.
But what would have become of the plotters led by Robert Catesby? Most (excluding Guy Fawkes) had left London by November 4th, with a dual plan of action. Firstly, they intended to start a popular Catholic uprising in the Midlands, rippling into other areas with strong Catholic sympathies such as Wales and the North. Perhaps, they hoped, they’d even get military support from Spain, despite the recently signed peace treaty. The second aspect of Catesby’s strategy was to kidnap the nine-year-old Princess Elizabeth, the elder of King James Stuart’s daughters, convert her to her mother’s religion of Catholicism and eventually place her on the throne of a new Catholic England.
However, irrespective of what was going on in London, things didn’t go to plan for Catesby and his fellow conspirators. They were now hunted men. There was to be no uprising and Princess Elizabeth remained at liberty. The plotters were pursued by militia, cornered, most killed and the few others captured. Fawkes was tortured in the Tower of London and eventually confessed.
King James lived on. Supported by his Secretary of State and spymaster general Robert Cecil, he renewed the clampdown on Catholic dissidents and the “recusants” who refused to attend compulsory Church of England services. A Catholic minority survived but England became increasingly a Protestant dominated nation.
What may have happened if Parliament and the King had been destroyed? Catesby and the other conspirators would still have been killed. No doubt there would have been reprisals on both sides but did the vast majority brought low by plague and poor harvests have the stomach for a civil war? Hopefully not. Perhaps the country would have sought a different path.
Eventually Princess Elizabeth would have become Queen. In this parallel time-line she wouldn’t have married Frederick of Palatine and become the “Winter” Queen of Bohemia for less than a year. She would have been the Queen of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Most likely she’d have retained her Protestant religion but her advisors may have recognised the importance of unity in avoiding civil war and/or seeing off potential invasion from Spain or France. In these circumstances Queen Elizabeth II could have introduced a policy of religious tolerance, where the Church of England remained Protestant but people were free to worship in the church of their choice.
The country could have become a shining beacon against the dark clouds of religion-fuelled war which were descending over the rest of Europe. There would have been dissenters. There always are. Puritan Protestant and Jesuit Catholic extremists, agents from enemy nations such as Spain or France, all would have wished to undermine such a stance, unseat and potentially assassinate the young queen.
In addition, Elizabeth would have needed to put right wrongs in her own kingdom across the water in Ireland where her father’s policies of “plantation” had given Protestant settlers too much power over the indigenous Catholic population. An envoy would be needed who could start the peace process to bring about the beginning of an end to the ongoing troubles there.
The history surrounding the Gunpowder Plot was the setting for my debut novel “Remember, Remember the 6th of November”.
The discussion above is the historical backdrop to my second book “1617”. In this story Queen Elizabeth selects Sir Everard Digby to be her peace envoy but he’s a man with a secret past she must never discover.
Digby travels to Ireland and faces shipwreck, attack from both sides and unwanted attentions from a Puritan assassin, whilst in London a plot is hatched against the Queen by an unholy alliance of Puritans and Jesuits. Both groups are manipulated by a deadly French female spymistress, Linda Blanchet, who has her own reasons for wanting Digby dead. With all this happening can Queen Elizabeth and religious tolerance survive?
I hope many readers enjoy finding out about the times of the 17th Century, the places and most of all the people as much as I did writing about them.
What might have happened if the Gunpowder Plot had succeeded…
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…
Where to find Tony Morgan’s books
1617 is available in Kindle through Amazon here.
Remember, Remember the 6th of November is available in Kindle and Paperback through Amazon here.
Tony Morgan is a Welsh author living in North Yorkshire in the UK, near to the birth place 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.