HE was the man behind the most notorious conspiracy in British history, yet many have never heard his name.
Here’s what we know about Robert Catesby, his part in the gunpowder plot and his relation to Kit Harington…
Hulton Archive – Getty Robert Catesby wanted to bring Protestant England back to Catholic rule
Who was Robert Catesby?
Robert Catesby was the born around 1572 in Warwickshire to a Catholic family in newly Protestant England.
He was said to be charismatic and made friends easily – many of whom remained fiercely loyal to him.
Catesby became deeply religious as he matured after what was said to be a wild youth.
He wanted to bring England back to the Catholic faith and is understood to have colluded with the Spanish government in 1602 about instigating a rebellion to achieve that goal.
He was seen as a dangerous rebel by the English government after his involvement in the ill-fated rebellion of the Earl of Essex against Queen Elizabeth’s advisor Robert Cecil in 1601.
Catesby was wounded, imprisoned and fined for his part in the episode, and was arrested as a precaution after the Queen’s death in 1603 to stop him using the time of instability to overthrow Protestant rule.
How was Catesby involved in the gunpowder plot?
Despite being less famous than Guy Fawkes, Catesby was actually the mastermind behind the gunpowder plot.
He came up with the plan to blow up Parliament and kill King James I in order to install his daughter as the new Catholic ruler.
The plotters initially rented a house on one side of the House of Lords and tried to dig a tunnel to plant explosives under the House of Lords.
But this proved too tricky and they instead rented a basement directly beneath the House in March 1605.
With just days to go before the plan was due to go ahead, the government received an anonymous tip-off.
Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellar next to 36 barrels of gunpowder and most of the other plotters fled.
Catesby ploughed ahead regardless with the plan to rally English Catholics but without success.
He was tracked down and killed in a shoot-out on the morning of November 8 at Holbeach House near Kingswinford, Staffs.
Kit Harington is playing his descendant Robert Catesby in new drama Gunpowder
Kit Harington – who plays Catesby in a new BBC One drama series Gunpowder – revealed he is actually related to Catesby.
He told how his mother is descended from the plot ringleader, while a relative on his father’s side was in Parliament when Catesby’s head was paraded outside.
Kit has explained: “When [Catesby’s] head was marched past the houses of Parliament on a pike, John Harington on my father’s side, who was in the houses of Parliament at the time, looked at him and is quoted as saying, ‘He’s an ugly fellow, isn’t he?’. Isn’t that brilliant?”