November 5, 1605: The Gunpowder Plot fails.

On November 5, 1605, a man named Guy Fawkes was arrested after he was found beneath the House of Lords near dozens of barrels of gunpowder, ready to be lit. Fawkes was one of a small group of conspirators plotting to assassinate James I, England’s first Stuart king, whose attitude toward Catholics had turned from moderate to hostile as time passed. In 1604, the king reintroduced fines against non-Anglicans (and his hostility was exacerbated by the foiling of this conspiracy, of course).

Although Fawkes was the would-be assassin who was immortalized and remembered by history, the leader of the group and principal organizer was one Robert Catesby, a charismatic and zealous “crusader” who, after the plot was foiled, was eventually found dead holding a picture of the Virgin Mary. 

The “Gunpowder Plot” had come extremely close to succeeding and had failed almost by chance. On October 26, an anonymous letter was sent informing the lords of a possible attack on Parliament, but the conspirators, aware of the letter, thought little of it. Their plan seemed to have been going smoothly until the King ordered a last-minute search of the cellars beneath Parliament, where Guy Fawkes was discovered and arrested. When interrogated and asked what he intended to do with the gunpowder that he had been found guarding, Fawkes replied that his intention had been to “to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains." He, along with his co-conspirators, was hanged, drawn, and quartered in January of 1606, and, that same year, Parliament passed an act establishing what would later be known as "Guy Fawkes Night”. The holiday was meant to commemorate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, and (in its early years) it was as much a condemnation of Catholicism as it was a celebration of the King’s survival. A rhyme often accompanied these festivities; one went this way:

Guy Fawkes, Guy  
Stick him up on high,  
Hang him on a lamp post  
And there let him die.  
Poke Him in the eye,  
Put him on the fire  
And there let him die  
Burn his body from his head  
Then you’ll say  
Guy Fawkes is dead  
Hip, Hip, Hooray!  

The most famous begins with these lines:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
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    It is, as V stated, the idea behind the plot. The government had become to tyrannical, so a group organized to fight...
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    November 5, 1605: The Gunpowder Plot fails. On November 5, 1605, a man named Guy Fawkes was arrested after he was found...
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