Understanding the Gunpowder Plot

Please to remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.


Claudia Capancioni of Bishop Grosseteste University and member of the Book Festival committee introduced the evening.

Claudia Capancioni

The brilliant Tracy Borman answered the question with a talk that held her audience spellbound.


She began near Lincoln, at Belvoir Castle where women had been accused of being witches. They were brought to trial in Lincoln and hanged. Her non-fiction book, Witches, tells the story and was the beginning of the process of writing The King’s Witch.

copyright PhilCrow

Tracy Borman and Witches

The obsession with witches lasted in Europe for probably three centuries, with varying degrees of severity. The reason for it were ostensibly religious, the witch being the servant of the devil. In all probability it was a route for jealousies and retaliation.

In Scotland, a severe witch hunt had raged under James VI. So, when he came to England to take the throne after Elizabeth, it is not surprising that it continued.

Just because something is not surprising, does not mean that it is not shocking and witch hunts were shocking in the extreme. They are overwhelmingly against women and were vicious.

Tracy told how the new king was intolerant of those who held to the old religion; how his own morality made this adherence to protestantism a vile sham. He had written a short book on witch hunting, which was proving to be a best seller.

Tract Borman with the King’s book

So those who plotted to kill the king and his heir and his senior advisors had more than enough reason.

Shakespeare wrote Macbeth around the subject of Witches, but kept it short given the king’s dislike of long plays.

Tracy Borman in the shadow of the bard

Tracy then introduced the characters of her book, which is the first of a trilogy. We have to wait a whole year for the second!

The Book Festival’s patron Lord Cormack, a yellow belly like Tracy, concluded the evening by thanking her, thanking the Festival Committee, its sponsors, but above all the audiences for their support.

copyright PhilCrow

Lord Cormack

Tracy then found time to sign a good number of books provided by Lindum Books.