The enigma of the gunpowder plot, 1605
The third solution
Francis Edwards SJ
According to the orthodox, old-fashioned view Salisbury discovered the conspiracy, a second judgement is that he nourished it and a third that he invented it'. Archbishop Mathew's succinct summary of the three solutions to Gunpowder Plot clarifies the object of this book. The first, simplistic solution of the plot, retailed to the English ambassadors on the continent by Robert Cecil, James I's secretary of state, still finds much favour.
That Cecil nourished the plot, although it did not originate with him, is the more common view. The third solution of this strangest and most enigmatic of events – or non-events – in British history is outlined here. The author has tried to make his approach non-confrontational and non-polemical, so that, even if readers remain unconvinced by the array of evidence and its interpretation, they will recognize that this third solution is neither as extreme or absurd as it is usually represented. It tries to take into account all that remains of the evidence, without omitting anything that might spoil the thesis.
Francis Edwards, Archivist to the British Province SJ, 1959–86 and to the Archivum Romanum SJ, 1986–9, worked in the parish of Farm Street Church, London until 2003. He is the author of Plots and plotters in the Reign of Elizabeth I (2002) and The Succession, Bye and Main Plots of 1601–1603 (2006). This, his last book, was completed shortly before his death.