Welcome back, Weekend Warriors, to another installment of our British history lesson series in case you’re making an international relocation to London in the future and don’t know where to begin understanding its past. Last week, we met King James I, who is in the middle of a major religious drama known as the Gunpowder Plot.
“Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot…”
Yes, folks, we’re less than one month away from celebrating the 406th anniversary of this infamous conspiracy to blow up King James I and his Parliament because James has not been as lenient on the Catholics as they’d hoped. The Gunpowder Plot is thwarted on 5 November 1605 when our man Guy Fawkes is caught en route to lighting the powder kegs. Doh! The conspirators are tried and duly executed, but the whole incident has obviously given Catholics a bad name, so anti-Catholic sentiment carries on with a fresh vengeance throughout the kingdom.
One of James I’s notable contributions to religion is his authorized version of the Bible, which dates from 1611 and is still commonly known today as the King James Bible. More religous conflict is a-brewin’ in England, however, as, just like the Catholics, the Puritans are disappointed in James. They’d hoped that he would bring to England some of the more extreme ideas of the Scottish church, and James is rather annoyed with their demands. This results in a pilgrimage of Puritans initiated in 1620—those of you expats moving to London from the US, perhaps you’ve heard of it? They departed Plymouth, England on this ship called the Mayflower? Crossed this ocean called the Atlantic? Landed on the northeast coast of this country called America? Settled there as a colony in what is now called Plymouth, Massachusetts? Yeah? Ring a bell? Cool.
Right. So, anyway, James I and his divine-right-of-kings attitude continues to alienate Parliament, and it’s made that much worse because of James’s excessive spending and clumsy handling of foreign policy. He tries to please Spain, though, by attempting to wed his son Charles to the Spanish Infanta and executing the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh at Spain’s request. Raleigh himself had previously been arrested under suspicion of involvement in the Gunpowder Plot, and, though released, he really steps in it during his expedition to find El Dorado, which proves unsuccessful and involves the ransacking of a Spanish outpost by his crew. Needless to say, neither Spain or James is a fan, hence Raleigh’s re-arrest and execution in 1618.
James I dies several years later in 1625. As his eldest son, Henry, has already passed away as of 1612, his second son Charles is next in line to the English throne. Join me next Sunday for a chronicle of this next monarch in the House of Stuart and, even sooner, contact our London Relocation agents to sort out your own House of You—that is, your new London apartment rental as you make your international relocation!
Related London Sightseeing: The Tower of London, where Sir Walter Raleigh and those involved with the Gunpowder Plot were imprisoned; the Mayflower pub, located where the Mayflower ship and its captain and crew embarked on its voyage to Plymouth, England to pick up the Pilgrim Fathers and onward to Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA.