Remember Remember the Fifth of November

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the Queen!

This is the traditional rhyme said on Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes night, with the last word being changed to King or Queen accordingly. All over the UK tonight there will be firework displays, bonfires burning “the Guy” and people enjoying toffee apples and baked potatoes. It’s a night to have fun and little thought will be given to the history behind the tradition: the Gunpowder Plot.

On the night of 4th/5th November 1605, Guy (or Guido) Fawkes was caught red-handed in the cellars beneath Westminster with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder. The plan had been to assassinate King James I by blowing up the Houses of Parliament on Parliament’s opening on 5th November. The plotters, all Catholics, wanted to replace the Protestant king with his daughter, Elizabeth, as a Catholic queen. The plot failed when Lord Monteagle received an anonymous tip-off and the cellars were searched.

The narrow escape of the King was celebrated with bonfires around London and the fireworks we light today symbolise the gunpowder that Guy Fawkes was guarding. Of course, the “Guy” that is burned on bonfires is an effigy of Guy Fawkes.

Do you celebrate the 5th of November? What do you do?

Also on this day in history…
1514 – Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, was crowned Queen of France. She had married King Louis XII at Abbeville on the 9th October 1514.

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