Gunpowder, treason and plot: The story behind Bonfire Night and Guy Fawkes
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 Gunpowder, treason and plot: The story behind Bonfire Night and Guy Fawkes

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PostSubject: Gunpowder, treason and plot: The story behind Bonfire Night and Guy Fawkes    04/11/17, 11:27 am

It's Bonfire Night this Sunday, November 5 - a date when Britons commemorate events that nearly changed the course of the nation's history. But what actually happened that night, and what part did Guy Fawkes play?

Bonfire night: the story behind it

November 5 commemorates the failure of the November 1605 Gunpowder Plot by a gang of Roman Catholic activists led by Warwickshire-born Robert Catesby.

When Protestant King James I acceded to the throne, English Catholics had hoped that the persecution they had felt for over 45 years under Queen Elizabeth I would finally end, and they would be granted the freedom to practice their religion.

When this didn't transpire, a group of conspirators resolved to assassinate the King and his ministers by blowing up the Palace of Westminster during the state opening of Parliament.


The arrest of Guy Fawkes in the cellars of Parliament pictured in a wood engraving. Credit: Universal History Archive/Un/REX

Guy (Guido) Fawkes, from York, and his fellow conspirators, having rented out a house close to the Houses of Parliament, managed to smuggle 36 barrels of gunpowder into a cellar of the House of Lords - enough to completely destroy the building.

(Physicists from the Institute of Physics later calculated that the 2,500kg of gunpowder beneath Parliament would have obliterated an area 500 metres from the centre of the explosion).

The scheme began to unravel when an anonymous letter was sent to William Parker, the 4th Baron Monteagle, warning him to avoid the House of Lords.


Guy Fawkes tried and failed to blow up Parliament in the Gunpowder Plot

The letter (which could well have been sent by Lord Monteagle's brother-in-law Francis Tresham), was made public and this led to a search of Westminster Palace in the early hours of November 5.

Explosive expert Fawkes, who had been left in the cellars to set off the fuse, was caught when a group of guards discovered him at the last moment.

Fawkes was arrested, sent to the Tower of London and tortured until he gave up the names of his fellow plotters.

Lord Monteagle was rewarded with £500 plus £200 worth of lands for his service in protecting the crown.

7 Things you never knew about Guy Fawkes

1. Guy Fawkes did not die from being hung, drawn and quartered:  As he awaited his grisly punishment on the gallows, Fawkes leapt to his death - to avoid the horrors of having his testicles cut off, his stomach opened and his guts spilled out before his eyes. He died from a broken neck.

2. Guy Fawkes was not the Gunpowder Plot's ringleader:  There were 13 conspirators in the plot, which was masterminded by Robert Catesby, a charismatic Catholic figure who had a reputation for speaking out against the English crown. But it was Fawkes who gained notoriety after the plot was foiled, for he was caught after sneaking into the cellar beneath the House of Lords to ignite the explosives.

3. Guy Fawkes won the unlikely admiration of King James I:  Fawkes withstood two full days of torture and expressed his regret at having failed his mission. His steadfast manner earned him the praise of King James, who described Fawkes as possessing "a Roman resolution".

4. Guy Fawkes has an island named after him:  He is one of Britain’s most infamous villains, whose effigy has been burned and whose demise has been publicly celebrated for more than four centuries. Yet to the north-west of Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands, a collection of two uninhabited, crescent-shaped islands is named Isla Guy Fawkes, or Guy Fawkes Island.

5. The Houses of Parliament are still searched once a year to make sure there are no conspirators hiding with explosives:  Before the annual State Opening of Parliament, the Yeomen of the Guard search the Houses of Parliament to make sure there are no would-be conspirators hiding in the cellars. This has become more of a tradition than a serious anti-terrorist precaution.

6. The cellar that Fawkes tried to blow up no longer exists:  It was destroyed in a fire in 1834 that devastated the medieval Houses of Parliament.

7. The gunpowder would have done little damage to Parliament:  The 36 barrels of gunpowder that Fawkes planted in a cellar below the Houses of Parliament would have been sufficient to raze it to the ground, while causing severe damage to neighbouring buildings. However, some experts now claim that the gunpowder had “decayed”, and would not have properly exploded even if ignited.

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Zandranna
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Name : Sandy
Location : Dorset
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Posts : 1386
Kudos : 128
Mood : Energetic
Birthday : 1st Nov

PostSubject: Re: Gunpowder, treason and plot: The story behind Bonfire Night and Guy Fawkes    04/11/17, 12:17 pm

My girls and company have all gone to Battle for Guy Fawkes Night. Normally I would have been going too but can't make the long journey nor the standing around that the evening requires.


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