November 5 is around the corner. On this night each year, communities across the UK hold Guy Fawkes Night. The night is all about bonfires and fireworks. Guy Fawkes Night marks the epic failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. Guy Fawkes was one of the main plotters who intended to blow up the parliament and kill King James I. Here, we have 10 things you should know about Guy Fawkes Night.
1. The first Guy Fawkes Night was held the year after the failed plot
The first ever Guy Fawkes Night was held on November 5, 1606. On this day, people gathered and burned the effigies of Guy Fawkes. After the Gunpowder Plot, it was declared an official day to celebrate the failure and the king’s safety.
Over the course of coming years, several Guy Fawkes Night customs came into being. The most common one is making a dummy of Fawkes. Children then take that dummy in their neighbourhoods and ask for a penny. They then burn the effigy of the Gunpowder plotter on bonfires.
2. Guy Fawkes was born a Protestant
Fawkes was not a Catholic by birth. Despite being raised in a Protestant household, he secretly became a clandestine Catholic at a young age. Moreover, his mother came from a recusant Catholic family and his cousin was a Jesuit priest.
3. Fawkes had fought with the Spanish Army
Fawkes joined the Spanish Army. In 1592, 21-year-old Guy became a captain with the Spanish Army after selling his estate. Here’s where he gained a sound understanding of gunpowder.
4. Guy wasn’t the leader of the Gunpowder Plot
Although Guy Fawkes was an integral player of the Gunpowder Plot, he actually joined it later. In 1604, he was recruited by Robert Catesby to join with a group of English Catholic men who were planning to kill the Protestant King James and restore a Catholic monarch by blowing up the parliament.
5. The gunpowder may not have been enough to blow up the parliament anyway
There’s been much speculation about whether the 36 barrels of gunpowder could have damaged the parliament had they been set alight. Some experts believe the gunpowder had decayed and it would not have worked.
6. Guy Fawkes was tortured to give up the names of his co-conspirators
After his capture and arrest, Guy Fawkes was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was severely tortured. That led to a confession. Guy revealed the names of all conspirators involved in the plot. He was given the death sentence for conspiring against the Crown. Many people in those days were “hung, drawn and quartered” but Fawkes was hung until death and did not suffer that fate.
7. Checks are still made of Parliament cellars each year
Fear and suspicion still persists. Every year, the few cellars of the parliaments are also thoroughly checked before the annual State Opening of Parliament. Most of those cellars from the Gunpowder Plot time were burned and destroyed by a fire in the parliament in the 1830s, so there’s only a few left to check.
8. There is a Guy Fawkes Island
Do you know there is a Guy Fawkes Island located among the Galapagos Islands? This is an inhabited landmass’ history remains mysterious. According to some accounts, this island was presented as a tribute to Guy Fawkes for his service in the Spanish Army.
9. Fawkes’ look inspired “V for Vendetta”
Fawkes’ look was the inspiration behind the mask for “V for Vendetta“. Guy’s distinctive look and dressing are easily identifiable. His perfectly manicured moustache, along with floppy, went on to inspire the main role’s mask in the comics, “V for Vendetta”. It was also adapted in the “V for Vendetta” film in 2005.
10. Children songs were sung to remember the failed plot
You will find various rhymes about Guy Fawkes. “The Fifth of November,” an English Folklore verse from 1870, is widely sung by kids in England. The motive behind such rhymes is to enable kids to remember the Gunpowder Plot’s story. Here it is:
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes, guy, t’was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England’s overthrow.
By god’s mercy he was catch’d
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.
And what shall we do with him?