Nationwide hysteria that King Charles II of England would die without an heir and be succeeded by his Roman Catholic brother, the Duke of York (later to become King James II), peaked with the Popish Plot in 1678. A repeatedly disgraced cleric named Titus Oates was responsible for disseminating the false rumour that Jesuits planned to assassinate the Protestant Charles II and crown James in his stead. With an array of plausible evidence, Oates secured the arrest of around 80 people who were then tortured or executed for treason. Only after 15 state executions of probably innocent men and an Exclusion Crisis that almost caused civil war was the plot disproved; Oates, who had become extremely wealthy, popular and influential, was then …
Seager, Nicholas. "Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 August 2005; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=881, accessed 28 April 2015.]