November is synonymous with fireworks, even after Guy Fawkes Night has been and gone. You can’t go an evening without hearing a firework or two and watching the dazzling spectacle they produce. But, loud bangs and pretty colours aside, amongst the frivolities all these fireworks parties bring it’s easy to forget the history of Guy Fawkes Night, so here’s a quick round up.
It all started in 1605, when a fellow named Guy Fawkes and his band of plotters conjured up a plan to blow up the houses of parliament with barrels of gunpowder planted in the basement. Why? Because they wanted to see the back of King James and the King’s leaders. Fawkes and his followers felt that since Queen Elizabeth had been on the throne Roman Catholics had been treated unfairly, forced to practise their religion in secret in fear of violent repercussions. Hopes of these laws being revoked when James took the throne were dashed when he came to power and controversially imposed more laws upon the Catholic religion. So, the Gun Powder Plot came to life. The men bought a house next to the houses of parliament, which conveniently had a cellar which spread under the parliament building.
But why was Guy Fawkes such a big part in this plot I hear you ask. Well, he was given the task to keep watch over the barrels of gunpowder and light the fuse when given the go ahead. However, fortunately, on the morning of the 5th of November Fawkes’s plan was scuppered as he was discovered in the cellar amongst the gunpowder and arrested. He was sent to the Tower of London where he was tortured and questioned into a confession.
In celebration of his survival, King James declared that his subjects should all have a spectacular bonfire on the night of the 5th of November. This signalled the birth of the Guy Fawkes Night we know to this day. The commemoration of the gunpowder plot now, appropriately, includes fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire.