Daily Archives: November 4, 2012

November 5: Guy Fawkes Day

Remember, remember, the 5th of November,
gunpowder, treason, and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot!

Here’s your history lesson for the day, condensed version. In 1605 England, Catholics were terrifically upset over the fact that the relatively new King James I was a Protestant. Protestants, on the other hand, were just about certain that a Catholic king would probably murder everyone the second they came to power.

If this seems strange, remember, it had only been about 70 years since the English church split from Rome under Henry VIII, and there had been a great many religious executions on both sides as the country jumped from Protestant Henry to Catholic Mary to Protestant Elizabeth.

In 1605, several men plotted together (we’d probably call them “extremists”) to blow up the king along with most of the royal family and nobility during the State Opening of England’s Parliament, and name the young Elizabeth queen. They planted thirty-six barrels of gunpowder underneath the House of Lords, but somebody made the mistake of warning a friend not to show at the opening. That warning brought about an extensive search of the area, and Guy Fawkes was found guarding the gunpowder.

So, over 400 years later, England still starts bonfires and lights fireworks to celebrate the day their government almost – but, thankfully, didn’t quite – get blown to bits.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song.”

Psalm 28:7