The night of the gunpowder is the night of firecamps and firecrackers in the UK, New Zealand, South Africa, Newfoundland, Canada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Australia, to celebrate the failure of the gunpowder plot, a plot of Catholic rebels led by Guy Fawkes, to kill England King James I by bombing the House of Lords in London.
The night of the bonfire is also called Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night and Plot Night.
It is an informal holiday in which it is customary to light bonfires and eat roasted potatoes in a bonfire wrapped in aluminum foil. They also fire fireworks and burn dolls in the form of Guy Fawkes, who was the gunpowder expert that was supposed to detonate the bomb he had prepared in the basement of the House of Lords.
The children have a favorite holiday: they eat a candy called "bonfires toffee" near the fire, a caramel apple and a Perkin cake.
In Australia, Guy Fawkes' night was celebrated with a lot of fireworks, so they called it "Cracker Night". In the 1960s, Australian states banned free fireworks from the general public because of the danger, and since then the popularity of the holiday has faded. In New Zealand to this day to this day celebrate with fireworks.
What was the gunpowder plot?
The Gunpowder Plot was an attempt by a group of Catholic extremists to murder King James I of England, his family and most of the Protestant aristocracy by blowing up the Westminster Palace in 1605 during the opening ceremony of the Parliament to obtain rights for Catholics.
They also plotted to kidnap and murder the king's children who were not present at the ceremony.
The original plan was to dig a tunnel from a distant basement to the House of Lords and place the explosives there, but at the end one of the conspirators, Thomas Percy, managed to rent a cellar under the House of Lords and there was no need to mine the tunnel.
Guy Fuchs filled the basement with gunpowder gradually, until by March 1605 there were 36 barrels containing 2.5 tons of gunpowder that could have destroyed all the structures in the Westminster Palace including Westminster Abbey, if they had exploded.
Fox's job was to blow up the barrels of gunpowder while his friends waited in Dunchurch, Warwickshire, for the consequences of the plot.
How did the plot fail?
The members of the plot group feared that the Catholics would be hit by the blast. One of them, apparently Francis Treshem, wrote on October 26 a letter to Catholic Lord William Parker-Lord Montagel, warning him against the planned explosion. Lord Montagall showed the letter to Robert Cecil, the Secretary of State. Following the letter, the palace guard searched all the basements below, until on November 5, Judge Thomas Kenneth, accompanied by an armed guard, caught Fawkes holding a watch and matches, and then discovered barrels full of explosives. Fawkes promptly admitted the plot with pride and was sent to prison at London Fort, where he gave the names of the rest of the group after being tortured.
Guy Fawkes and his teammates were executed on 31 January 1606 in the courtyard of the old palace in Westminster by hanging.
Results of plot failure
The plot was intended to grant rights to Catholics, but instead the rights were revoked and they were accepted only after two hundred years.
More interesting facts about the failed gunpowder scheme:
Literary scholars believe William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" was inspired by the plot.
The word "Guy" in English - which means a generic term for a person - comes from Guy Fawkes, whose name was shouted at the bonfires.
Every year, before the opening ceremony of the British parliament, members of the Parliament Guard conduct a ceremonial search for explosive charges in all rooms of the Parliament building.
The cellar in which the barrels were hidden was destroyed in the fire in 1834.
The lantern that Fox carried in his hand while he was caught is being exhibited at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
|Link to Ashmolean Museum|
The mask of Anonymous - the activists who want to remain anonymous, was inspired by Guy Fawkes' face, following the film V for Vendetta, which was released in 2006, inspired by the plot and used in this mask.