donderdag, november 06, 2003


Yesterday was Guy Fawkes Day here in England which calls for large bonfires throughout the towns and villages of the land and loads of fireworks.

Even our little village hall in Blackwell had a huge bonfire and fireworks display, along with hotdogs, jacket potatos and of course, ladles full of mulled wine which tastes, in essence, like hot sangria. Yum!

Guy Fawkes was one of the masterminds of The Gunpowder Plot, which was a conspiracy to blow up the English Parliament and King James I on Nov. 5, 1605, the day set for the king to open Parliament. It was intended to be the beginning of a great uprising of English Catholics, who were distressed by the increased severity of penal laws against the practice of their religion.

An alleged newspaper account on January 27, 1606 outlines the criminal/terrorist plot and reports the conspirators were found guilty of treason.

"To the charges - in brief, that the eight defendants, together with Catesby, Percy, the two Wrights, Tresham, and the three Jesuits Henry Garnet, Oswald Tesmond (alias Greenway) and John Gerrard (all killed in the pursuit), did traitorously conspire to kill the King and the Queen and Prince Henry; to raise sedition and to produce a miserable slaughter in the realm; to cause rebellion and to subvert and change the government and true worship of God established in the Realm; and also to invite foreigners to invade the Realm and make war against the King - all surprisingly pleaded not guilty, despite the extreme notoriety of their previous confessions. This prompted Chief Justice Popham to ask Guy Fawkes how he could deny the indictment, considering he was captured in the cellar with the powder, and never denied his guilt before, to which Fawkes responded that he disagreed merely with certain details of the indictment."


Of course, the Gunpowder Plot Society is exhaustive on the matter. In the interim, I've been reading a great book by Antonia Fraser on the subject called, predictably enough, The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605.


I guess the only thing I don't get is that this is basically a big party about a failed terrorist plot that mimics what might have happened had the terrorists succeeded. 36 barrels (approximately 2500kg) of gunpowder, concealed under a store of winter fuel. Not very becoming behavior for a nation which is supposed to be against terrorism. It seems unclear if this is a celebration of the execution of a terrorist or a celebration of the spirit of the attempted terrorism. Especially because Uncle Dubya might not be happy about it if he ever finds out.

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