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James VI

With the death of Elizabeth I the Tudor line died out and James VI came at the throne with the title of James I. He was a Protestant and he believed he was the representative of God on earth. He summoned parliament only to ask for money, but it gave him nothing unless the money was needed for war. He was interested in witchcraft and he declared he believed in black magic. The most urgent problem of the reign was religion: Catholics were barred from public life; extreme Protestants, called Puritans, had an high sense of duty and they didn’t want to live in a country which they believed was going to fall into moral decline. So in 1620 a hundred of them, the Pilgrim Fathers, left England for America and founded New Plymouth. James I authorized a new translation of the Bible in 1604. Fifty scholars worked on translation for seven years: this version would be heard and read even by leymen. The King James Bible will be used by the Church of England for more than three hundred years.

At the end of 16th century the English country remained Catholics although James I was strongly Protestant. Therefore the people had to face increasing level of persecution like the death penalty. Baddesley Clinton is a country house in Warwickshire which became an important place of refuge for Catholics, with a secret hidden room called “a priest’s hole”. In 1605 some radical Catholics tried to bomb the king in the Houses of Parliament. Guy Fawkes was the man selected to prepare light the fuse; a man called Thomas Percy rented a house next to the Houses of Parliament and then he managed to access the room directly under the House of Lords. Everything was going well but one of the plotters wrote a letter to his brother in law warning him not to attend the opening session of Parliament. The letter was shown to other members of the government and one the morning of 5th November soldiers discovered Fawkes and arrested him. In the meantime an armed insurrection was organized in the Midlands but few people supported the Catholic cause. Those who weren’t killed were imprisoned in the Tower of London and they were brutally executed with Guy Fawkes in January of 1606. The failure of the Gunpowder Plot is still commemorated in England on 5th November.

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