Titus Oates and his ‘Popish Plot’

12 May, 2016 940 History of Europe

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Titus Oates (1649-1705) who, with Israel Tonge, spread rumours of a Catholic plot to assassinate Charles II. From 1678, they went to great lengths to support their scheme, forging evidence and identifying the supposed conspirators. Fearing a second Gunpowder Plot, Oates’ supposed revelations caused uproar in London and across the British Isles, with many Catholics, particularly Jesuit priests, wrongly implicated by Oates and then executed. Anyone who doubted him had to keep quiet, to avoid being suspected a sympathiser and thrown in prison. Oates was eventually exposed, put on trial under James II and sentenced by Judge Jeffreys to public whipping through the streets of London, but the question remained: why was this rogue, who had faced perjury charges before, ever believed?

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  • Clare Jackson 6 episodes
    Senior Tutor and Director of Studies in History at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge
  • Mark Knights 3 episodes
    Professor of History at the University of Warwick
  • Peter Hinds No other episodes
    Associate Professor of English at Plymouth University

Reading list

  • Ireland and the Popish Plot
    John Gibney (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) Google Books →
  • Restoration: Charles II and his Kingdoms
    Tim Harris (Allen Lane, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Politics of Religion in Restoration England
    Tim Harris, Paul Seaward & Mark Goldie (eds.) (Wiley-Blackwell, 1990) Google Books →
  • The Horrid Popish Plot: Roger L'Estrange and the Circulation of Political Discourse in Late Seventeenth-Century London
    Peter Hinds (Oxford University Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • Restoration Scotland, 1660-1690: Royalist Politics, Religion and Ideas
    Clare Jackson (Boydell Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • Charles II: The Star King
    Clare Jackson (Allen Lane, 2016) Google Books →
  • The Popish Plot
    John Kenyon (William Heinemann Ltd, 1972) Google Books →
  • Politics and Opinion in Crisis, 1678-1681
    Mark Knights (Cambridge University Press, 1994) Google Books →
  • The Plot Against Pepys
    James Long and Ben Long (Faber & Faber, 2007) Google Books →
  • The Strange Death of Edmund Godfrey: Plots and Politics in Restoration London
    Alan Marshall (The History Press, 1999) Google Books →
  • Popery and Politics in England, 1660-1688
    John Miller (Cambridge University Press, 1973) Google Books →
  • England in the 1670s: 'This Masquerading Age'
    John Spurr (Blackwell, 2000) Google Books →
  • A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration
    Jenny Uglow (Faber and Faber, 2009) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: b079rbcj

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/b079rbcj

Auto-category: 942.06 (England during the Stuart period, 1603-1714)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1678, Titus Oates claimed he'd discovered a Catholic conspiracy to shoot King Charles II.