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Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,093 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
In England, November 5 is Guy Fawkes Day, when fireworks displays commemorate the shocking moment in 1605 when government authorities uncovered a secret plan to blow up the House of Parliament--and King James I along with it. A group of English Catholics, seeking to unseat the king and reintroduce Catholicism as the state religion, daringly placed thirty-six barrels of gun ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 13th 1997 by Anchor (first published January 1st 1996)
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Nov 17, 2009 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
For much of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I the repression meted out against Catholics increased almost annually. You can understand why the Queen might have been a bit annoyed with the Catholics – she might well have won the Spanish Armada, but even the joy of winning would have to have been tempered by the fact that these guys literally wanted her dead and were prepared to go to quite an extreme to assure that. A Pope had even named her in what we would probably call today a fatwa – making it v ...more
Aug 29, 2015 Orsolya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Remember, remember the fifth of November” is a little ditty that even those not living in England are familiar with. Guy Fawkes Day always stood out to me personally as it is the birthday of my estranged half-sister. However one relates to it; it is accepted as the Catholic conspiracy to “blow up” King James I of England. Antonia Fraser portraits this undeniable act of terrorism and those involved with it in, “Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot”.

Fraser is a master at depicting
Jun 05, 2007 Siria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remember, remember, the 5th of November; Gunpowder, treason and plot...

At first glance, it might seem a little odd that I am reading a book so closely connected with November and Bonfire Night at the beginning of August. But although Fraser manages to untangle much of the still confused circumstances and events which made up the Powder Treason, this book is a lot more than a simple recounting of the events of 1606. She places them in the context of a continuum of events dating back to the reign
C.S. Burrough
Jul 26, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Antonia Fraser fans
Whatever Lady Antonia Fraser wrote about - I'm sure I could read her shopping lists and be entertained - would be worth reading. The lady is perhaps my favourite mistress of this genre. Not simply erudite, eloquent and formidably well educated, she's genuinely talented. Such is the key to her success and longevity.

It came as no surprise, therefore, that what has to me been one of the most excruciatingly boring episodes in history to glean facts from, was here made gripping material that refused
There is so much right about this book! Her comparisons to the similarities between how today's peoples react to similar movements and plots that cause disruption and turn people's thinking into being wary and wanting protection were very relevant. Catholics were not that accepted at this time, but it could have been alot worse and many just out of wanting safety and loose attitude from others about their own practice of their own faith. If there was anything that people didn't was to ...more
Mark Singer
A good, but not perfect, introduction to the Gunpowder Plot. The plusses are brevity, and a good background as to why it happened. Fraser makes the case that the plot was triggered by the disappointment of leading Catholics to the perceived broken promises of toleration by the new monarch, James I (aka James VI of Scotland) who ascended the throne of England in 1603 after the death of Elizabeth I. James I had a Catholic wife (Anne of Denmark) but learned how to survive in the violent politics of ...more
Feb 15, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Remember, remember the fifth of November...'

And we do, some four hundred years on. The memory of the Gunpowder Plot lingers on to this day in the ritual bonfire and effigy of Guy Fawkes on Bonfire Night on the 5th November, in the ceremonial searching of the vaults and cellars of the House of Lords on the eve of the Opening of Parliament, in the perennial joke regarding Guy Fawkes being 'the only man to ever enter Parliament with honest intentions'. However, it is likely that the majority of th
Apr 03, 2010 Penny rated it really liked it
Before reading this book, I never understood the religious and cultural history of the gunpowder plot. Fraser takes us back to the beginning of the 17th century, when British Catholics were filled with hope at the death of Queen Elizabeth and the ascension to the throne of James I, son of Catholic martyr Mary Queen of Scots. Hope soon turned to disillusionment as Catholics realized that James was a thorough Protestant and had no intention of softening the anti-Catholic measures the Tudors had pu ...more
Mouldy Squid
Dec 21, 2010 Mouldy Squid rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A well researched treatise on the infamous 1605 Gunpowder Plot. Readers expecting a more "exciting" or "sensational" treatment of Guy Fawkes will be disappointed, but for those with a more academic interest in the history of the Gunpowder Plot will find this book rich in detail and information. Fraser focuses on the men, women and families of the plotters, and on the men who prosecuted them. Very necessary context is provided by Faser, clarifying the politics, society, religions and prevailing a ...more
Jun 24, 2009 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
For the last few days I've been trying to recall a better book of narrative history, and can't think of one. On that basis it clearly rates 5 stars. All the boxes are ticked - the prose is clear, the main themes relating to the subject are all covered, sources are meticulously referenced, and it's an interesting and involving read.

I don't agree with all of Fraser's conclusions, but she is very clear about separating documented fact from deduction and speculation, and her ideas are certainly not
Jose Vidal
Magnífica investigación sobre la famosa "conspiración de la pólvora", sus antecedentes y sus consecuencias.

Siguiendo las personalidades y la vida de los conspiradores principales (Wintour, Wright,... y por supuesto Fawkes) nos plantea la compleja situación de los católicos ingleses, el difícil papel de los sacerdotes (¿pudieron evitar el plan en algún momento?) y toda la oscuridad que rodea a la investigación gubernamental y su condena. Muy interesante su visión de la sociedad católica dividida
The story behind why we English have Bonfire Night every 5th of November. Fraser doesn't just tell the story of what happened that fateful night but also goes into the background of the reasons why the Catholics became homeland terrorists. As Fraser is a renowned historian I expected the book to be quite dry and academic so I was pleasantly surprised to find it an entertaining and informative read.
Abigail Hartman
Aug 27, 2015 Abigail Hartman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Excellent. This history of the Gunpowder Plot - from which the British get Guy Fawkes Day, V for Vendetta, and all that - masterfully incorporates sources from Catholic and Protestant perspectives, makes a historical argument, and reads like a murder mystery all at the same time. Unlike some of the diatribes written in the Plot's aftermath, "Faith and Treason" takes a nuanced approach, pointing out the different Catholic approaches to questions of violent religious activism and exploring the con ...more
Jun 09, 2009 Luci rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent analysis of the Powder Treason. I especially liked the references to the wives and sisters of the planners. This book gives a great overview of what the reality of practicing Catholicism during the early parts of the Jacobean reign. It was well-researched and the footnotes only clarified interesting facts to the reader.
Linda Root
Sep 16, 2014 Linda Root rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was exactly what I needed in researching my WIP. It is an entertaining recap of the Gunpowder treason and it allowed me to later tackle some of the scholarly works upon which Antonia Fraser bases her research. The conspirator Thomas Percy is a major character in my novel, and Fraser's work provided me with the overview I needed.
Lori Widmer Bean
Jun 07, 2012 Lori Widmer Bean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I like switching between fiction and nonfiction, I started this book at the same time I started The Appeal by John Grisham. So far, I'm loving this book. Fraser pulls you right into the plot from the epilogue, where she sets up the environment post-Queen Elizabeth. Her writing is lively, factual, and overall, fun to read.
Oct 02, 2010 Humaira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Medium Read.
The best review imho of the Gunpower Plot. Who was involved, what was it about, why did the people do what they did, who blew the lid (pardon the pun!)
Oct 06, 2008 Tiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I don't know why I originally picked this history up, but it turned out to be a fascinating read.
Jan 28, 2009 Kelly marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Remember, Remember,...
Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot….or, as contemporaries called it, the Powder Plot. Its scale, for the 16th century, was ambitious, especially so for its novelty. No one-shot assassination, in this scheme at least thirteen conspirators worked together over a course of several months on a plan that would simultaneously involve kidnapping a royal princess and blowing up Parliament – killing, in one fell swoop, King James, his son the prince, the royal mini ...more
Inken Purvis
“Remember, remember, the 5th of November.
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot.”

In England, 5 November is Guy Fawkes Day, when fireworks displays and bonfires commemorate the moment in 1605 when government authorities uncovered a secret plan to blow up the House of Parliament – and King James I along with it. A group of English Catholics plotted to kill the king and reintroduce Catholicism as the state religion by hiding 36 barrels of gunpowder i
Aug 31, 2014 N rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
1) ''My Lord, out of the love I bear to some of your friends, I have a care of your preservation. Therefore I would advise you, as you tender your life, to devise some excuse to shift of your attendance at this Parliament, for God and man hath concurred to punish the wickedness of this time. And think not slightly of this advertisement, but retire yourself into your country [county] where you may expect the event in safety. For though there be no appearance of any stir, yet I say they shall rece ...more
Jun 18, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good conspiracy mixed with passionate religious fervor, international intrigue, a new king, and a plot to blow up the nation’s center of government – well, it makes for a fascinating tale.The Fraser telling is thorough, factual, presented in excellent written discourse. Some may find complex and even tedious the finagling of a few families and Jesuits, the subtle religious politicizing, and hereditary conniving. Readers may need to look up the meaning of “recusant” and “misprision” of treason; ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Zoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I bought this book after a trip to the beautiful city of York (Guy Fawkes’ home town) when I realised that I knew shamefully little about this important period of British History. This book has definitely put that right as it is not only filled with interesting details of the plot itself but also gives an excellent briefing on the state of the nation (and in particular what life was like for British Catholics) in the years beforehand. This is essential because you need to have some appreciation
Kelly Grossmann
Aug 04, 2011 Kelly Grossmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Antonia Fraser! I really enjoy reading about history, but I tend to go for the historical fiction rather than non-fiction. Sometimes I feel like way too much information is but in and it ends up reading like a text book. Pretty boring. But not with Antonia Fraser. Other than the lack of dialogue that comes with reading any non-fiction book, hers seem to read like a novel. And The Gunpowder Plot is not the exception.

I really enjoyed reading about all the secret hiding places for priests th
Oct 29, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good conspiracy mixed with passionate religious fervor, international intrigue, a new king, and a plot to blow up the nation’s center of government – well, it makes for a fascinating tale! Around the end of the year 1605, a cabal of English Catholics, seeking to unseat the king and reintroduce Catholicism to Britain, plot to blow up the House of Parliament in London with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder placed in the cellar beneath. Bold and ambitious, the event constitutes a famous story with ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Under the shadow of the new king, James I, many promises and overtures were made to Catholics in England, and Catholic leaders abroad. The feeling was one of hope, and the language was one of tolerance and acceptance. Much of this would turn out to be political positioning from an astutely political king and his court, nonetheless the mood in the nation was changing. Drifting in to this play acted out on the theological stage were the men who were to become the embodiment of historical notoriety ...more
Dina Agazzi
Quando si sa raccontare la...storia

Ho appena terminato questo libro sulla congiura delle polveri e vorrei esprimere il mio apprezzamento per come è scritto il libro.
Ho letto altri commenti che notavano la pesantezza della storia, in particolare per il fatto che alla congiura vera e propria sarebbero dedicate poche pagine rispetto a quelle totali del volume.
Innanzitutto è vero che non è una lettura "leggera" ma trovo che il libro sia scritto benissimo, del resto ci si avvicina a letture storiche,
Feb 20, 2016 Kmkoppy rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
My first Antonia Fraser book and I concur that she is truly a wonderful author. The complexities of the terrorist plot and how it was to be carried out were explained in an engaging way. There were tons of characters, but Fraser had a way of describing them so that you could remember them and how they interacted throughout the book. I learned so much about religious life during the early 1600's, as well as legalities and the royal court. Now I really understand what Guy Fawkes day is all about. ...more
Jun 22, 2015 Serena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Gunpowder Plot is something I have always wanted to understand, and now I feel I have a good grounding in it. Fraser's book is clear about the mechanics of the Plot: who, what, where and how. what she excells in the the Why? James I coming to power and the Catholics' role in society were the prime reasons. She lays out the timelines, the players, but also as much as we can understand of their motives and mindsets, and what were the motives of the prosecuters as well. So now I feel like I kno ...more
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Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies Mary, Queen of Scots (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, King Charles II and The Gunpowder Plot (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, The Weaker Vessel: Women's ...more
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