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Titus Oates and his 'Popish Plot'

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Titus Oates and his role in starting and spreading rumours of a 'Popish Plot' against Charles II.

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?


Clare Jackson
Senior Tutor and Director of Studies in History at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge

Mark Knights
Professor of History at the University of Warwick


Peter Hinds
Associate Professor of English at Plymouth University

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

49 minutes

Last on

Thu 12 May 2016 21:30


Clare Jackson at the University of Cambridge

Mark Knights at the University of Warwick

Peter Hinds at Plymouth University

Titus Oates - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Edmund Berry Godfrey - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Israel Tonge - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Popish Plot – Wikipedia



John Gibney, Ireland and the Popish Plot (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Tim Harris, Restoration: Charles II and his Kingdoms (Allen Lane, 2005)

Tim Harris, Paul Seaward & Mark Goldie (eds.), The Politics of Religion in Restoration England (Wiley-Blackwell, 1990), especially ‘England’s Troubles: Exhuming the Popish Plot’ by Jonathan Scott

Peter Hinds, ‘The Horrid Popish Plot’: Roger L'Estrange and the Circulation of Political Discourse in Late Seventeenth-Century London (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Clare Jackson, Restoration Scotland, 1660-1690: Royalist Politics, Religion and Ideas (Boydell Press, 2003)

Clare Jackson, Charles II: The Star King (Allen Lane, 2016)

John Kenyon, The Popish Plot (William Heinemann Ltd, 1972)

Mark Knights, Politics and Opinion in Crisis, 1678-1681 (Cambridge University Press, 1994)

James Long and Ben Long, The Plot Against Pepys (Faber & Faber, 2007)

Alan Marshall, The Strange Death of Edmund Godfrey: Plots and Politics in Restoration London (The History Press, 1999)

John Miller, Popery and Politics in England, 1660-1688 (Cambridge University Press, 1973)

John Spurr, England in the 1670s: ‘This Masquerading Age’ (Blackwell, 2000)

Jenny Uglow, A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration (Faber and Faber, 2009)


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Clare Jackson
Interviewed Guest Mark Knights
Interviewed Guest Peter Hinds
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 12 May 2016 09:00
  • Thu 12 May 2016 21:30

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