Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Remember, remember the Fifth of November..."

Today is celebrated in the UK as Guy Fawkes Day, the anniversary of a foiled attempt by Catholic plotters in 1605 to blow up King James and the Houses of Parliament. It was known as the "Gunpowder Plot" and came very close to success. From an online description:
.... It was intended to be the beginning of a great uprising of English Catholics, who were distressed by the increased severity of penal laws against the practice of their religion. The conspirators, who began plotting early in 1604, expanded their number to a point where secrecy was impossible.

[In] a cellar under the House of Lords...36 barrels of gunpowder, overlaid with iron bars and firewood, were secretly stored. The conspiracy was brought to light through a mysterious letter received by Lord Monteagle...on October 26, urging him not to attend Parliament on the opening day.

The 1st Earl of Salisbury and others, to whom the plot was made known, took steps leading to the discovery of the materials and the arrest of Fawkes as he entered the cellar. Other conspirators, overtaken in flight or seized afterward, were killed outright, imprisoned, or executed.

.... While the plot was the work of a small number of men, it provoked hostility against all English Catholics and led to an increase in the harshness of laws against them. Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, is still celebrated in England with fireworks and bonfires, on which effigies of the conspirator are burned. ....

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England's overthrow.
But, by God's providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match! ....
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
English children's rhyme for Guy Fawkes Day
 
Guy Fawkes Day, The Fifth of November - English Folk Verse