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#OnThisDay in 1683: The Rye House Plot, to assassinate English king Charles II was discovered

On this day in 1683 a plot to assassinate King Charles II of England and his brother/heir James was discovered.

King Charles II was unpopular with the Protestant members of Parliament because although he was officially an Anglican, both he and his brother/heir were very sympathetic to Catholics. Most of King Charles II’s foreign allies were Catholics and this was seen as a threat by some dissenting groups. Parliament had already attempted to remove James from the line of succession after it had been discovered that he had converted to Catholicism, but King Charles II dissolved that parliament which protected his brother’s inheritance.

The plan, known as the “Rye House Plot,” was a plot which would ambush and kill King Charles II and his brother James on April 1, 1683 as they journeyed home from horse-races at Newmarket to London. The races were cancelled due to a fire which burned half of Newmarket and so the plot was never taken into action against the King and his heir.

On June 12, 1683 after a man named Josiah Keeling had given information of the Rye House Plot to Sir Leoline Jenkins, the plot was discovered. Keeling used his connections to the plotters and was able to help the courts discover all who had participated and planned the Rye House Plot bringing them to justice. After King Charles II was made aware of this he had twelve of the men executed, eleven imprisoned, and ten either fled or were exiled.

There are some historians who argue that the Rye House Plot was a fabrication of the King and used to imprison and kill his political enemies. Other historians argue that the plot was a real attempt at assassinating King Charles II and John by certain factions who disliked the King for  both political and religious differences.