Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Today You Get a History Lesson

"Remember, remember
the fifth of November,
the Gunpowder treason and plot.
I know of no reason
why the Gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot."
(English Folk Verse c. 1870)

Today is Guy Fawkes Day!  I'm not sure I've ever heard of Guy Fawkes Day, you say.  Well, that's because it's a British thing.  Here's the scoop:

Guy Fawkes lived in the late 1500's and early 1600's in Protestant England.  During this time in history, religion was a very important and touchy issue.  There were many people who wholeheartedly embraced the new Protestant era, but there were also those who held fast to their Catholic heritage.

James I, the current King of England, was a protestant.  And there were some Catholics who wanted to overthrow him in favor of a Catholic ruler.  Guy Fawkes was one such man.  Though he did not hatch the "Gunpowder Plot", he became an integral part of it.  The plot was to blow up the House of Lords while the King and the Parliament members were inside, sparking an overthrow of the entire government.

After months and months of planning, the fateful night of November 4, 1605 arrived.  Guy Fawkes was in charge of making sure the 36 barrels of gunpowder that were piled in a room below the House of Lords would be detonated correctly on the following morning as Parliament opened.  However, you've never heard of anyone blowing up Parliament before because Fawkes was arrested just after midnight on November 5th, mere hours before the months of planning would have paid off.

Fawkes was the tortured for several days before he confessed the plan.  Afterwards, he was sentenced to a gruesome death, but he managed to jump from the gallows after the rope had been tied around his neck in order to meet his death more swiftly than planned.

Though this isn't a particularly fascinating history lesson, it is one that has lived on in English history.  To this day, people across the country still celebrate Guy Fawkes Day and burn his effigy at bonfires to commemorate the plot.

Today, I'm going to celebrate the day by watching "V for Vendetta" (a movie in which a man tries to recreate the plot in a future version of England) and eating toast (that movie always makes me want toast)!

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

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