The fifth of November; Gun Powder, Treason and Plot
It just so happened that this years bonfire night here in the UK fell nicely at the start of the week, in time for this weeks photo. Not only that, but I decided as I had the opportunity to, to create a calendar of some of my Lego minifig photos for 2013. I tried to match each one to a month out of what I had already taken this year. However I didn’t have any particular image that stood out for November. Luck was with me as it happened, as I only had to wait a few days to create a Bonfire night photo to go into the November slot on the calendar.
So what is Bonfire night, as well tend to call it all about…….
After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that James I, her successor,would be more tolerant of their religion. as he had, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth. So a group of 13 men decided that violent action was the answer.
A small group took shape, with Robert Catesby taking the lead. They decided to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing this, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. To carry out their plan, they got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder – and stored them in a cellar, just under the House of Lords.
But as they worked on their plans, it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts. One of them sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th. The warning letter was passed to the King, and plans were made to stop the conspirators.
Guy Fawkes who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder, keeping guard, and ready to light the fuse, when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed.
The Gunpowder Plot struck with people of England. Even today, the reigning monarch only enters the Parliament once a year, on “the State Opening of Parliament”. Prior to the Opening, and according to custom, the Yeomen of the Guard search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster. Nowadays, the Queen and Parliament still observe this tradition.
On the very night that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.
So do we celebrate the fact the gunpowder plot was foiled or because we really wish it hadn’t…….now that is the burning question!