Could Guy Fawkes' plot have succeeded?

Guy Fawkes was not exactly a “terrorist” as we now use the term, but a revolutionary. His plan was to blow up the king and parliament, not to sow fear among the people, but to open the way for a Catholic takeover of England. Could it have worked, if the gunpowder had gone off as planned?

Could he have blown up the building and killed a lot of important people? Sure, with a few lucky breaks. But there was absolutely no hope of a resurgence of Catholicism in England.

If any thing Catholics would end up far worse off in England, Scotland, & Ireland. The Church of England would probally end up more Protestant than OTL too.

It very nearly happened; when Fawkes was captured, he was on his way to light the fuse and had in his posession the necessary materials, but I agree; it would have been a big event, but would not have overturned the prevailing system; it might even have backfired and caused an upsurge of anti-Catholic action.

Actually it didn’t. The powder had decomposed and would not have exploded even if lit. And the plot had been betrayed to the authorities some time earlier - the only reason they waited until the last moment to arrest Fawkes was in order to catch him red-handed.

I agree. But to take this interesting question further:

So 10 year old Henry would become King. Who would lead the proto-CoE English forces?
Is there any chance that the Puritans, who were also repressed by James, would either make common cause with the Catholics (unlikely) or rise up on thier own?
What about the Catholic Earls in Scotland?

If only it was that simple. On the gunpowder, the oft-repeated view that decayed powder won’t have exploded has recently been challenged, most spectacularly by one of last year’s TV documentaries marking the anniversary. Indeed, if nothing else, what the media coverage of that anniversary helped reveal was that there is now no consensus among the gunpowder experts on this point.

As for the fact that the government had already been tipped off and waited until 4/5 November before arresting Fawkes, it needs to be remembered that officials had already searched the cellar earlier that day, that they had questioned the servant looking after it (Fawkes in disguise) and that they had then decided that the pile of firewood hiding the gunpowder was innocuous. Had the king not been so jittery, they could easily have left it at that. The problem they faced was exactly the same as that faced by any modern security service - picking up information about plots is easy enough, but distinguishing the real threats from the phoney ones is much more difficult and it is always tempting to assume that a tip off that doesn’t check out is just another of the false ones. Unless you think Cecil (no, not that one) was behind it all anyway…

The 12-year old Prince Henry would not have become king as he would have attended the state opening. But if he had survived, he would presumably have reacted in exactly the same way as he did to his actual survival, which was by becoming a fervent Protestant. The next in line was the 4-year old Prince Charles - the future Charles I - although the plotters actually intended to appoint his sister, Princess Elizabeth, mainly because she was living in Warwickshire and so could be captured more easily. Rather ironically, the Catholic best-placed to act as a regent, their mother, the queen, would have been killed in the explosion.

The main flaw in the plotters’ plan was that, despite what is usually assumed, many MPs would not have been present in the Lords’ chamber when the explosion went off. Thus, although most of the Royal Family, the Privy Council, the peerage and the judges would have been wiped out, there would almost certainly still have been enough members of the Commons to act as an emergency government. One must also remember that the Lords would have been automatically replenished by the heirs to the deceased peers. Indeed, what would have emerged might not have been so unlike the provisional government created in December 1688. And as in 1688 the mobilisation of local forces against a perceived Catholic threat would not have required coordination from the centre. The odds were stacked against any Catholic rebellion whatever happened in London.

Yes- the plot was basically doomed as soon as Tresham wrote his letter to Lord Monteagle- the authotities allowed Guy Fawkes to get close (and, for that matter, presented it as if he had been “discovered” lighting the fuse- a little piece of historical spin that still survives in some textbooks) so as to intesify the “Oh my god, Dirty Catholics!” factor.

However, I’m afraid you’re wrong on the powder- there was a TV show broadcast last November that recreated, Mythbusters-style, the amount of powder being used in an exact replica of the 17th century HoL. It was discovered that had less than half the powder gone off, the entire building would have been reduced to rubble- and they also tested using deteriorated (“decayed”) gunpowder, and found it had the same effect. If Fawkes had been allowed to touch the fuse, he would have killed everyone in the Lords that night.

As to the OP, I sincerely doubt whether the Catholics had the local support they’d need to try and take over the country; IIRC, their forces were tiny, and they were basically relying on good Catholics spontaneously coming out into the open (Catholicism being not persecuted, per se, but frowned upon at the time), taking up arms and marching on London- which has not, historically, been a very successful strategy. Plus, their prospective candidate for the throne lacked legitimacy, and was in any case unlikely to be accepted by a nation so suspicious of Catholics (look at the reaction to Mary’s courting of King Phillip some fifty years before). On the other hand, we shouldn’t underestimate the disruptive effect of destroying both King and Parliament at a single stroke. Britain at the time was pretty centralised, and the country would have been temporarily both shocked and paralysed by the death of the monarch and most of his court.

It’s for this reason that I think it’s entirely appropriate to call Fawkes et al terrorists- that’s certainly what we would call them today. Their revolution plot was half-baked, and they seem to have been as much motivated by religous fervour and anti-Scottish feeling (look at Fawke’s statements at the time: he speaks of a “mighty wind to blow the Scots away” [IIRC] and the desire to destroy the excommunicated James) than genuine political maneouring. Their aim was to kill- whether you think this is justified by the oppressive regime of the time is beside the point, really, but Fawkes was what we would call today a religous fundamentalist and a prospective terrorist.

Arrgh! Preview is my friend. APB put things rather better than me.

And in one of those ironies of history she married Frederick V, then Elector of the Palatinate, and Her grandson became George I of the United Kingdom, thus making all her direct descendants heir to the British throne and the most direct Stewart blodd that any of the extant line have.

lets split the differnce and say Henry was 11 on November 5, 1605 having been born on February 19, 1594