Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5 - Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes

On November 5, 1605, the Gunpowder Plot, intended to assassinate King James I by blowing up the House of Lords, was thwarted in London. The treachery was part of a revolt in Britain’s Midlands designed to install James' young daughter (granddaughter of Mary Queen of Scots) as the Catholic head of state, thereby reversing England’s break from the Church of Rome. One of the 13 members of the plot, Guy Fawkes, was apprehended while guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder placed under the House of Lords. He was later sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The date became known as Gunpowder Treason Day, Bonfire Night and other names, on which people lit bonfires and burned effigies of hate-figures, often the pope, out of anti-Catholic sentiment. Over time masks of Fawkes became common and the annual occasion was called Guy Fawkes Day. Stylized Fawkes masks seen in the movie “V for Vendetta” (2006) are now used by post-modern anarchists, particularly the hacktivists Anonymous. The modern word “guy” is derived from references to Guy Fawkes.

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