The Exeter Conspiracy

Chapter 1: What was the Exeter Conspiracy?

The Exeter Conspiracy is the name given to a vague mass of suspicions, accusations, indiscreet babblings and undeliverable threats during the period 1538 to 1541 that resulted in the destruction of the Pole and Courtenay families, as well as Sir Edward Nevill and Sir Nicholas Carew, together with various servants and retainers of the men involved.

Sir Nicholas Carew (c. 1496 - 1539)

Whether Henry VIII's throne was ever genuinely at risk is doubtful, but, given the febrile atmosphere of the time, and the threat of foreign invasion, it seems unfair not to accept that Henry had genuine grounds for fear, even though it is obvious in retrospect that there was little danger of any invasion.

Henry VIII, aged about 50

All of the accused had been close to Henry VIII in the first part of his reign and the sense of personal betrayal that Henry must have felt hearing some of the evidence, probably contributed to the harsh penalty exacted for something less than concrete.

A timeline of events is here