Main Plot

Main Plot

The Main Plot was a conspiracy of July 1603 by English Catholics, to remove King James I from the English throne, replacing him with his cousin Arabella (or Arbella) Stuart. The plot was allegedly led by Henry Brooke, Lord Cobham, and funded by Spain. Its name may be an alternate for "the treason at Maine", referring to the French province of Maine.[citation needed] The Dictionary of British History offers the explanation that the Main Plot's conspirators were tried along with those of a contemporary plot, called the Bye Plot, with the implication that the latter was an offshoot of the former.[1]

The plot involved Sir George Brooke and Thomas Grey, 15th Baron Grey de Wilton raising a regiment and marching on London to take over the government. Henry Brooke, Lord Cobham, was to act as a negotiator. In the version of the plot presented at trial, Cobham was negotiating with the Count of Aremberg to contact the Spanish court for a very large sum of money (approximately one-hundred and sixty thousand pounds). He was to travel to Brussels, then to Spain, collect the money, and go back to England via Jersey, where Sir Walter Raleigh was governor. Raleigh and Cobham were then to divide up the money and decide how best to spend it in furtherance of sedition.

The plot was discovered by questioning prisoners arrested in connection with the Bye Plot. In particular, Sir George Brooke, the brother of Lord Cobham, had been involved in the Main plot. He believed that he could bolster his position by informing on his brother. It is currently considered unlikely that Sir Walter Raleigh had any culpability in the plot; see the biography of Raleigh's prosecutor, Sir Edward Coke.

Despite informing on his brother in his show trial for the Bye Plot, George Brooke was executed with the other Bye plot conspirators in 1603. Cobham was executed for his involvement in the Main plot in 1618. Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London for thirteen years and was released, although he was eventually executed in 1618.

See also


  1. ^ "main plot". Dictionary of British History. Aylesbury: Market House Books. 2002. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 

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