Monday, November 5, 2012

guy fawke's day 2012

well here it is november 5th and i completely overlooked the major event of the day for all anglophiles which is that this day in england is “guy fawkes day”. the day is named after guy fawkes, the most famous of a huge pile of conspirators who decided to blow up the parliament of england and the king back in 1605.
my own memories of guy fawkes night are vague but involve a stuffed "guy" in a wheelbarrow, a catherine wheel, fireworks, and treacle toffee and a massive (to me at the time) bonfire.
the history of the event is well documented.
the big bomb plot was supposed to mark the beginning of a great uprising of english catholics,
who were really bothered by the increased severity of penal laws against the practice of their religion.
the big mistake that the conspirators made?
well they got a little carried away by their importance
and expanded their number to a point where secrecy was impossible.
this is key to the success of secret societies:
don't share everything.
keep it small.
have lots of secret symbols and signs.
meet in strange places.
the plot itself is unique in my own view.
one of the chief conspirators hired a cellar under the house of lords,
in which 36 barrels of gunpowder,
overlaid with iron bars and firewood,
were secretly stored.
the conspiracy really began to fall part
when a mysterious letter was sent to lord monteagle,
a brother-in-law of one of the conspirators,
(more proof that
it's the brother-in-law you should worry about,
not the mother-in-law)
on october 26,
urging him not to attend parliament on the opening day.
the 1st earl of salisbury and others,
to whom the plot was made known,
took steps that lead to the discovery of the materials
and the arrest of poor guy fawkes as he entered the cellar.
it's easy to imagine his disappointment!
the other conspirators,
were either overtaken in flight or seized afterward,
and then were killed outright,
or executed in various nasty ways.
guy fawkes day,
november 5,
is still celebrated in england with fireworks and bonfires,
on which effigies of the conspirator are burned.
now here's the funny thing: the real guy was never burned.
he was supposed to be hung, drawn and quartered
(please don't ask or google it -
it's horrible)
but he managed to jump off the scaffold
breaking his neck and thereby sparing himself the nastiness of all that was planned for him.

so happy guy fawkes day to all my english and expatriot english readers!!


Linda Sue said...

penny for the guy?
poor guy...

steven said...

yeah linda sue . . .it seems like a cheesy amount for such a nasty ending . . . steven