Friday, 5 November 2010
05:10:34 PM (GMT)
In November 1605, the infamous Gunpowder Plot took place in which some Catholics,
most famously Guy Fawkes, plotted to blow up James I, the first of the Stuart kings
of England. The story is remembered each November 5th when ‘Guys’ are burned in a
celebration known as "Bonfire Night".
Catholics in England had expected James to be more tolerant of them. In fact, he had
proved to be the opposite and had ordered all Catholic priests to leave England. This
so angered some Catholics that they decided to kill James and put his daughter
Elizabeth on the throne ensuring that she was a Catholic. This led to a plot to kill
not only the king of England, James, but also everyone sitting in the Houses of
Parliament at the same time as James was there when he opened Parliament on November
Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators, having rented out a house right by the Houses
of Parliament, managed to get 36 barrels of gunpowder into a cellar of the House of
The explosive expert, Guy Fawkes, had been left in the cellars to set off the fuse.
He was only caught when a group of guards decided to check the cellars at the last
Fawkes was arrested and sent to the Tower of London where he was tortured and
eventually gave away the names of the fellow conspirators.
Sir William Wade, Lieutenant of the Tower, had orders to use whatever means of
torture was required to get information from Fawkes. The order came from James.
Of those involved, some were shot as they were chased by the law. Others were
captured, sent to the Tower and, after a brief trial, eventually hung, drawn and
quartered, with Fawkes, in January 1606.
In celebration of his survival, James ordered that the people of England should have
a great bonfire in the night on November 5th. This fire is traditionally topped off
with an effigy of Guy Fawkes & is still celebrated to this day.