‘Jacob’s Stone erected in aeternal memorie’: remembering the Gunpowder Plot

This engraved broadside in the form of a triumphal arch is a memorial to England’s deliverance from the ‘Hellish Powder Plot’ to blow up King James I and Parliament of 1605. At its centre is a plaque inscribed ‘Jacob’s Stone Erected in aeternal memorie’, sitting astride which is the allegorical figure ‘Bonita Divina’. Crammed with biblical and classical allusions, this print is a complex visual and textual emblem that interlaces patriotism, royalism and providentialism. In the dimly lit left-hand niche of this imposing edifice, Guy Fawkes casts a pool of light from his lantern on the fateful faggots and barrels, but his sinister scheme cannot escape the ominscient eye of the Almighty. At the top, cherubim hold the corners of musical scores for psalms appropriate for the devotions of a Protestant family on 5 November. Initially published in the 1610s, this impression dates from another moment of intense anti-Catholic panic, 1679, the year of the ‘popish plot’, a fictitious conspiracy fabricated by Titus Oates. Displayed in private homes, such broadsides were part of a broader genre of pictorial ‘monuments’ that found a ready market among the godly, who regarded grateful recollection of the Lord’s interventions to save the monarchy and nation as a pious duty. AW

The papists powder treason ([s.l.: Richard Northcott, 1679]).

LPL: Prints 027/001

Further Reading

Alexandra Walsham, Providence in Early Modern England (Oxford, 1999), pp. 250-66.

Adam Morton, ‘Popery, Politics and Play: Visual Culture in Succession Crisis England’, The Seventeenth Century, 31 (2016), pp. 411-49.

Antony Griffiths, The Print in Stuart Britain 1603-1689 (London, 1998), ch. 12.

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