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Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night) - November 5

Guy Fawkes Night is one of the most popular festivals in Great Britain. It commemorates the discovery of the so-called Gunpowder Plot, and is widely celebrated throughout the country. Below, the reader will find the necessary information concerning the Plot, which, as he will see, may never have existed, and the description of the traditional celebrations.

Gunpowder Plot. Conspiracy to destroy the English Houses of Parliament and King James I* when the latter opened Parliament on Nov. 5, 1605. Engineered by a group of Roman Catholics as a protest against anti-Papist measures. In May 1604 the conspirators rented a house adjoining the House of Lords, from which they dug a tunnel to a vault below that house, where they stored 36 barrels of gunpowder. It was planned that when king and parliament were destroyed the Roman Catholics should attempt to seize power. Preparations for the plot had been completed when, on October 26, one of the conspirators wrote to a kinsman, Lord Monteagle, warning him to stay away from the House of Lords. On November 4 a search was made of the parliament vaults, and the gunpowder was found, together with Guy Fawkes (1570-1606), an English Roman Catholic in the pay of Spain (which was making political capital out of Roman Catholics' discontent in England). Fawkes had been commissioned to set off the explosion. Arrested and tortured he revealed the names of the conspirators, some of whom were killed resisting arrest. Fawkes was hanged. Detection of the plot led to increased repression of English Roman Catholics.** The Plot is still commemorated by an official ceremonial search of the vaults before the annual opening of Parliament, also by the burning of Fawkes's effigy and the explosion of fireworks every Nov. 5.

* (James I - English King; reigned 1603-1625.)

** (This account of the events of November 5, 1605 is not accepted by all authorities as wholly historically correct.)

(The Waver ley Encyclopaedia)

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