Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bonfire Night

First, Happy Birthday to MOTR of Abnormally Normal.

Bonfire Night
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Guy Fawkes, guy, t'was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England's overthrow.

By god's mercy he was catch'd
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.

And what shall we do with him?
Burn him!

The celebration of bonfire night, or Guy Falkes Night is practically unknown of the in the US, and few bonfires will be set tonight.

For those unfamiliar with the story, on November 5, 1605 Guy Falkes was amongst a group of catholic conspirators disappointed that England's King James I was not more lenient towards members of his faith. The conspirators planned to assassinate the king, and install his daughter Elizabeth as monarch, by igniting 36 barrels of gunpowder they secreted in the cellars of the House of Lords.

Supposedly, an anonymous letter was sent warning one of the Lords of the plot. His Lordship notified authorities who found Fawkes guarding the stash of explosives. Fawkes was questioned somewhat forcefully and in little time admitted his part in the plot and expressed his regret that the plan (the gunpowder plot) had failed.

The king admired Fawkes resolution but wanted the names of the co-conspirators, and on November 6, 1605 ordered Fawkes's torture, light at first, then stronger if he remained defiant. By November 9 he broke, giving the names of his associates and the full plan.

Fawke's trial began January 27, 1606, execution set for January 31. Fawkes and his accomplices were ordered hanged until near death, drawn, genitals removed and burned before their eyes, bowels and heart removed, decapitated and dismembered. Fawkes climbed the scaffold, asked for forgiveness and jumped, breaking his neck in the fall. Although dead, his sentence was carried out.

The bonfire tradition began the night the plot was discovered, November 5, 1605. Thankful Londoners lit bonfires to rejoice in the news their King had been spared. The anniversary was celebrated annually. In time effigies of Guy were made and added to the fires. Effigies of the Pope and unpopular politicians are tossed in as well.



nanc said...

Coincidentally, my son was just telling me the other day that Guy Fawkes masks were the most popular Halloween costumes on campus. I thought, wow these kids really paid attention in history class. Turns out there was a graphic novel and movie a few years ago which featured Guy Fawkes.

James said...

On an unrelated subject, I really like your banner photograph.

Toad said...

The family pile.