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Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgotten.

The quote which is made famous by the film V for Vendetta is more relevant today than most. Bonfire night, now as much as we all love to watch the pretty fireworks or hide away from the loud noises, I think we all forget the actual reason why we celebrate the 5th of November.

Although the reason we celebrate this is because of one man. Guy Fawkes, the guy who tried to blow up The Houses of Parliament…yup you heard me right. Despite the name given for the night, Guy Fawkes was not the only, or even the significant player in the Plot. He was only in charge of watching over the explosives and lighting the fuse. The real leader of the conspiracy was Robert Catesby, a  gentleman from the Midlands, and more importantly, a Catholic.

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Crispjin Van De Passe’s engraving of some of the conspirators. Can you spot which one is Guy Fawkes?

The Gunpowder Plot was hatched in 1605 by a group of Catholic gentlemen,  because they were dissatisfied with the King being unable to reduce Catholic persecution in the country, especially in the wake of Elizabeth I’s Protestant reign(she was excommunicated by the Pope himself).

The plot’s objective was to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the early hours of 5th November, killing the entire Protestant aristocracy and the royal family except for James I’s eldest daughter Elizabeth, who would have been kidnapped afterwards and crowned as a Catholic Queen.

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Above: Guy Fawkes’ signature shortly after torture
Below: Same signature made by Fawkes at a much later date

The only reason that Fawkes was caught was because of an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, who ordered a search of the House of Lords, where they found Fawkes guarding 36 barrels of gun power. That would have been one mighty explosion! Fawkes was tortured in the Tower of London until he finally told the interrogators his fellow conspirators. When all 13 were caught, they were tried, found guilty and then hung, drawn and quartered.

And so  after the plot was foiled, Londoners were encouraged to light bonfires in the night, to celebrate the survival of the monarchy….at least until the late 1600’s when England became a republic under the Puritan Cromwell…oops? Anyway while you’re celebrating the pretty fireworks, please remember why we do so.

God save the Queen, all right?