Thursday 4 October 2018

What if the Gunpowder Plot had Succeeded? By Tony Morgan #Stuarts #History @MorgantheBook

What if the Gunpowder Plot had Succeeded?
By Tony Morgan

Have you ever wondered how your life, or even wider history, may have changed if an event had turned out differently? This is the premise for my second novel “7th November 1617”.

The story is set in a world shaped by the events of the Gunpowder Plot. As we know, Guy Fawkes was arrested hours before Parliament was due to open on 5th November 1605. In this alternate timeline the opening ceremony was delayed by 24 hours. The area beneath Parliament was searched but a second bomber hidden behind a false wall wasn’t discovered.

When proceedings began, the man detonated the second half of the gunpowder. Parliament was destroyed. King James I, his sons and many members of the government were killed. A power vacuum was created.

We can only imagine what might have happened next. What if there have been a bloody civil war between Protestants and Catholics? What if France or Spain had launched an invasion? Or alternately what if the country had stabilised and the people come together? Perhaps a move towards religious tolerance would have been possible.

A new monarch was certainly needed. The next in line to the throne was Princess Elizabeth. In 1605 she was just nine years old.

Set a dozen years after the Gunpowder Plot, our story begins in earnest in August 1617. The great and the good have gathered at Greenwich Palace for the Queen’s 21st birthday celebrations. A rash of suitors vie for the hand of the most eligible woman in the known world. This includes Frederick of Palatine. In our own timeline Frederick and Elizabeth were happily married but this can’t happen here; Frederick’s too lowly a catch for the Queen of England.

To prevent civil war, Elizabeth’s advisers have pursued the policies of tolerance. People in England, Scotland and Wales can worship freely in the Protestant or Catholic church of their choice. This move is well received by the majority but not by all. Puritan and Jesuit extremists hate each other but despise tolerance even more. For them there can only be one church. The Catholic superpowers of France and Spain have voiced their concerns and the Pope has branded Elizabeth a hypocrite because of Ireland.

Ireland… Elizabeth’s other kingdom. The policies of plantation started by her father King James continue. Indigenous Catholics are stripped of their power, wealth and land by Protestant incomers. Ireland is not at war but neither is it at peace. As the Catholics struggle to survive, their Protestant neighbours live in fear for their lives. Something must be done or the troubles could continue for centuries.

The Queen needs a peace envoy. Everard Digby appears the perfect choice. He’s spent the last decade in the Americas. He’s the man made famous by the painting of his rescue of the explorer Henry Hudson. He’s shown the way forward by making peace with native American tribes. But he’s a man with a past.
The Queen is blissfully unaware of Digby’s role in the Gunpowder Plot, which killed her father and brothers, and where he was assigned to kidnap her nine-year-old self. Only when he heard of the scale of the atrocity planned in London did he abandon his friends and walk away. If Digby’s secret is uncovered he’ll face a one way trip to the executioner.

Everard Digby.

Haunted by the events of 1605 and beyond, Digby doesn’t want to go to Ireland. Even if Elizabeth’s advisers can blackmail him into it, he knows he’ll face threats from all sides. He’s already being stalked by a Puritan assassin and a deadly French spymistress.

The Earl of Northumberland warns the Queen she’s sending Digby on a suicide mission but she doesn’t care. Elizabeth has a vision of the future. The first step is to make Ireland a better place for all who live there. If Digby fails, she’ll send another, so he has to go…

I hope this whets your appetite and you’ll read “7th November 1617” to find out more about Digby’s mission to Ireland, Elizabeth’s plans for the future and what happens when Parliament opens on 7th November 1617. I’d love to hear what you think.

If like me, you have a fascination for bonfire night and want to know more about the Gunpowder Plot, have a look at my first novel “Remember, Remember the 6th of November”.

All profits from both books in 2018 are being donated to St Leonard’s Hospice in York, which provides specialist palliative care and support for people with life limiting illnesses. St Leonard’s provides great care free of charge to patients and their families but of course it’s not free to provide, so I’m really pleased to be supporting this great cause.

Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan is a Welsh author living in 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.

Tony Loves to hear from readers, you can find him: Website Twitter


  1. Who couldn't be fascinated by the Gunpowder Plot! Roll on Bonfire night!

    1. Hi Jackie - I agree - I started reading about the topic a few years ago and was totally hooked. If you do read one or both of the books please let me know what you think as I'd love to get our feedback.

    2. Definitely! It's a great feeling when something grabs you like that.

  2. I have never considered what would have happened if the Gunpowder plot had been successful. I guess English (British) history would have been quite different.

    1. Hi Beatrice - Yes - it's one of the things I think is really interesting to explore. Civil war, invasion or an attempt at a more tolerant approach. We can only imagine!


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