November 5 is known within the UK as Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Day. It is an occasion when families take their children to watch bonfires burn and fireworks explode. Wrap up warm folks and stay safe.
The life & Crimes of Guy Fawkes
The infamous Gunpowder Plot conspirator.
Summary: Guy Fawkes, also known as Guido, was an Elizabethan nobleman, adventurer, and politician who became involved in the infamous Gunpowder Plot.
The Plot was intended to overthrow the government and assassinate the monarch by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. It failed and, although he was a relatively minor player, it was Fawkes who was to have lit the fuse but was instead caught in the act. He therefore achieved notoriety and became, by association, the principal character of the Plot.
1570: Born 13th April, Stonegate, York.
1570: Baptised, 16th April at Saint Michael-le-Belfrey, York.
Parents Edward and Edith Fawkes. His father was proctor of the ecclesiastical courts and advocate of the consistory court of the Archbishop of York.
1579: His father died and his mother Edith married again into a Catholic family.
The Gunpowder Plot
1603: When Elizabeth I died without children, Mary’s son, was next in line to the throne. As James was a Protestant, Parliament was also in favour of him becoming king. The Roman Catholics in England were upset that there was going to be another Protestant monarch. They also became very angry when James passed a law that imposed heavy fines on people who did not attend Protestant church services.
1604: In May, Robert Catesby devised the Gunpowder Plot, a scheme to kill James and as many members of Parliament as possible. At a meeting at the Duck and Drake Inn Catesby explained his plan to Guy Fawkes, Thomas Percy, John Wright and Thomas Wintour. All the men agreed under oath to join the conspiracy.
Over the next few months Francis Tresham, Everard Digby, Robert Wintour, Thomas Bates and Christopher Wright also agreed to take part in the overthrow of the king.
After the death of James in the explosion, Robert Catesby planned to make the king’s young daughter, Elizabeth, queen. In time, Catesby hoped to arrange Elizabeth’s marriage to a Catholic nobleman. It was Everard Digby’s task to kidnap Princess Elizabeth from Coombe Abbey.
Catesby’s plan involved blowing up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November. This date was chosen because the king was due to open Parliament on that day. At first the group tried to tunnel under Parliament.
This plan changed when Thomas Percy was able to hire a cellar under the House of Lords. The plotters then filled the cellar with barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes, because of his munitions experience in the Netherlands, was given the task of creating the explosion.
The Plot was discovered when the cellars were searched the night before the opening. Fawkes was caught red-handed and although his fellow conspirators fled, they were cornered and either died resisting arrest or were captured and executed.
1606: Died 31st January executed in the garden of St. Paul’s Cathedral / Old Palace Yard, Westminster.
I wonder if such a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament today would be celebrated in such a fashion in a couple of hundred years time? Somehow I doubt it.
Further information surrounding Bonfire Night can be found here.