Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Night )

guy_fawkesTraditionally November the 5th is Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night, which is held yearly in the UK to commemorate the failed Gunpowder Plot on 5th November 1605, During which a group of provincial English Catholics nnamed Robert Catesby, John Wright, Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, Robert Wintour, Christopher Wright, John Grant, Sir Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham, planned to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of England’s Parliament on 5 November 1605, killing protestant King James I of England and VI of Scotland and restoring a Catholic monarch to the throne.This was to be the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James’s nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state.

Guy Fawkes was born on 13 April 1570 and was educated in York. His father died when he was eight years old, after which his mother married a recusant Catholic. Fawkes later converted to Catholicism and left for the continent, where he fought in the Eighty Years’ War on the side of Catholic Spain against Protestant Dutch reformers. He travelled to Spain to seek support for a Catholic rebellion in England but was unsuccessful.Whilst in Spain he met Thomas Wintour, with whom he returned to England, and Upon their return, Wintour introduced Fawkes to Robert Catesby, who planned to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. The plotters secured the lease to an undercroft beneath the House of Lords, and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder they stockpiled there.

Robert Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed.To this end The plotters secured the lease to an undercroft beneath the House of Lords, and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder they stockpiled there, due to his 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands in suppression of the Dutch Revolt. However The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, on 26 October 1605. As a result the authorities searched Westminster Palace and the House of Lords and at about midnight on 4 November 1605, Fawkes was discovered guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder—enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble—and he was arrested.

Upon learning of the plot’s discovery Most of the conspirators fled from London trying to enlist support for their cause along the way. Several made a stand against the pursuing Sheriff of Worcester and his men at Holbeche House; in the ensuing battle Catesby was one of those shot and killed. At their trial on 27 January 1606, eight of the survivors, including Fawkes, were found guilty of of High Treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. However Immediately before his execution on 31 January 1606, Fawkes jumped from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck thus avoiding the agony of the mutilation that followed.

Francis Tresham meanwhile ,Was ‘the eldest son of Sir Thomas Tresham and Merial Throckmorton, and was also a member of the group of English provincial Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a conspiracy to assassinate King James I of England.Tresham joined the Earl of Essex’s failed rebellion against the government in 1601, for which he was imprisoned. Only his family’s intervention and his father’s money saved him from attainder. Despite this, he became involved in two missions to Catholic Spain to seek support for English Catholics (then heavily persecuted), and finally with the Gunpowder Plotters.According to his confession, Tresham joined the plot in October 1605. Its leader, Robert Catesby, asked him to provide a large sum of money and the use of Rushton Hall, but Tresham apparently provided neither, instead giving a much smaller amount of money to fellow plotter Thomas Wintour. Tresham also expressed concern that if the plot was successful, two of his brothers-in-law would be killed. An anonymous letter delivered to one of them, William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, found its way to the English Secretary of State, Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, an event which eventually proved decisive in the conspiracy’s failure.

Historians have long suspected that Tresham wrote the letter, a hypothesis that remains unproven. Catesby and Wintour shared the same suspicion and threatened to kill him, but he was able to convince them otherwise. He was arrested on 12 November and confined to the Tower of London. In his confession, he sought to allay his involvement in the plot, but never mentioned the letter. He died of natural causes on 23 December 1605.Fawkes meanwhile despite being only one of 13 conspirators  became synonymous with The thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot and since November 1605 people have been encouraged to celebrate the King’s escape from assassination by holding special sermons and other public events such as the ringing of church bells,and lighting  of bonfires,  “always provided that ‘this testemony of joy be carefully done without any danger or disorder’”. An Act of Parliament was also passed, which designated each 5 November as a day of thanksgiving for “the joyful day of deliverance” and this day has been commemorated ever since by the lighting of Bonfires during which an effigy of Guy Fawkes is traditionally burned & Spectacular Firework Displays take place

 

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