1606 - Execution of Guy Fawkes
|Guy Fawkes, as depicted in the 1840's|
During the trial at Westminster Hall for Fawkes and the other Gunpowder Plot co-conspirators (which was attended in secret by King James and his family), Fawkes declared that he was not guilty. However, the outcome was not in serious doubt: not only had Fawkes been found guarding the deadly gunpowder with a fuse in his pocket, but he and a fellow co-conspirator had confessed to the crime in their adjacent prison cells, and this was picked by a government spy. With the overwhelming evidence mounted against him, Fawkes was found guilty of treason.
On the day in question, he and three other co-conspirators were dragged by horse from the Tower of London to the Old Palace Yard opposite of the Houses of Parliament. Fawkes was the last to face his ultimate fate, and on the scaffold, he begged for forgiveness from the King and the state, and performed a brief Catholic ritual. He managed to avoid the agony of his sentence by falling and breaking his neck, but nevertheless, his body was hanged and quartered, and its pieces were distributed throughout the kingdom to warn of the fate for those who commit treachery.
1788 - The passing of the Young Pretender
|Charles Stuart, the Young Pretender as he appeared in his later years|
Charles Edward Stuart was the elder son of James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender), who in turn was the only son of James VII & II, the last Catholic monarch of Britain, who was deposed during the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 and replaced by his Protestant son-in-law William and daughter Mary.
Stuart attempted to regain the British throne in the name of his father and grandfather during the Jacobite Uprising of 1745. By this time, the throne had been occupied by the Hanoverians - the German Protestant cousins of the Stuarts - for 30 years, and now they and Britain were at war with France over the issue of Austrian Succession. There were rumblings of dissatisfaction with the Hanoverian regime, and Stuart, with the backing of Louis XV of France, believed that it was the right time to retake the throne, especially with many British soldiers preoccupied with the war on the Continent. He landed in Scotland, and made some gains on his road to London, but the campaign ended in a crushing defeat at the Battle of Culloden, which was the last battle fought on British soil and effectively ended the active pursuit of the throne by the Stuarts and their descendant Jacobite claimants.
Charles Stuart - known to history as Bonnie Prince Charlie - lived the rest of life in Rome at the grace and favor of the pope. Upon his death, he had no living legitimate children and his claims to the throne were vested in his younger brother, Henry Benedict Stuart, who was cardinal in the Church and therefore also died without an heir, thereby ending the Royal House of Stuart.