Guy Fawkes maskThe 5th of November each year brings around what is loosely called “Guy Fawkes Night”. This commemorates an event that occurred on that date in 1605 during the reign of King James I of England or King James VI of Scotland if you prefer.

On the 24th April of that year, a Bill was laid before Parliament that would outlaw all English members of the Roman Catholic Church and some believe this was the final straw that prompted the conspiracy against the King. The plot was born, to blow up the King at the state opening of Parliament. As a bonus, many of the Bishops of the Church of England would also be present due to their dual role in the House of Lords. A little mentioned aspect of the plot was the kidnapping of the King’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth. Currently third in line to the throne, the conspirators had planned to whisk her off to Northumberland, placing her under the protection of Henry Percy, then Earl of Northumberland, to later be installed as Queen in name alone.

The Catholic conspirators, led by Robert Catesby included such fellows as Guy Fawkes and Thomas Percy, then Constable of Alnwick Castle bought a lease to the undercroft beneath the House of Lords. This was a long room, some 77 feet, around 24 feet wide and with 10 feet high ceilings. Plenty of space to stack the required amount of gunpowder kegs. However, around midnight on the 4th November, a patrol caught Guy Fawkes red handed. He had been guarding thirty six kegs of gunpowder and was arrested immediately. As the plot discovery became known, the lucky conspirators were shot during their escape attempts however Guy Fawkes was not so lucky. The most savage death awaited him. On the 31st of January 1606, along with Robert Keyes, Ambrose Rookwood and Thomas Wintour, Fawkes was taken from the Tower of London to the Old Palace Yard at Westminster where they all suffered the fate of being hung, drawn and quartered. The plot was a spectacular failure.

To ensure that nobody forgot the fate of traitors, their body parts were sent to be displayed in all four corners of the Kingdom and to ensure future generations kept their place, a nursery rhyme told the story:

Remember, remember the 5th of November

I see no reason why gunpowder, treason

Should ever be forgot.

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