The 5th November.
I doubt you need any reminders – there’s been firework displays every night since Saturday, I think they began.
It seems a bit strange that today should be named after a terrorist. For that’s what Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were, let’s not forget that. They wanted to blow up the Houses of Parliament, with as many of the members inside as possible. It was to be a big statement. At the Opening of Parliament in 1605.
And they were going to kidnap the 9 year old Princess Elizabeth, and make her a puppet-queen. All because they thought that King James wasn’t being nice enough to the Catholics in England. Which is probably true. But still, a bit excessive, really. He also had something against witches and smokers.
That’s what the celebrations are all about today. The fact that none of this happened. Guy Fawkes was caught before he could light the fuse, and under torture gave up the names of the rest of the group.
What I find interesting about the group is that the leader, one Robert Catesby, was a veteran rebel. Sort of. As were several others of the rebellion. In 1601, led by the Queen’s erstwhile favourite, the second Earl of Essex (incidentally, the stepson of Robert Dudley, Elizabeth’s real favourite), they attempted a coup. Naturally, it failed. Essex was tried, convicted and executed for treason. As well he might be. Catesby was fined. He had to pay the equivalent of around £6m.
I’m always somewhat surprised by the reappearance of rebels in new plots. You’d think they’d learn…
(If you want fireworks, you’re probably best off looking out the window. I have a hard time photographing them…)