Notable Historical Trials II – Titus Oates

The updates have been slow of late – I’m on the point of finishing a few, and am not reading as much.  I did finish another chapter in the Folio Society set on Historical Trials – working on Volume II.

This chapter is on a man called Titus Oates, who , being pretty much a failure, decided to parlay his skills at fast talking with the current English fear of Catholics into power, influence and money.

While it had been a while since the Reformation and the Wars of Religion right after, England still was opposed by France and other Catholic Powers in Europe, so there was an understandable nervousness. Coupled with this was the heir to the throne, James II, was pretty unlikeable and was a not-so-closeted Catholic himself.  There was a growing fear  of what a Catholic King would mean.

So when Oates started claiming that he had been involved in secret Jesuit plots to kill the KIng, he was believed no matter how poor his evidence was. And as a result a number of prominent Catholics were put to death. After years of this and many victims, he began to fall out of fashion. When the climate had finally turned completely, he was tried himself and sentenced to be lashed.  The relatives of his victims were said to have gotten to the lasher, since he did it full bore the entire walk to the place of punishments, so that it was said that Oates took 3000 lashes (!).  He was also sentenced to be pilloried for an hour once a year in several places about the country each year.

Despite this, he lived for some years after, which is more than you can say for those he lied into their grave.

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