Guy Fawkes Night: why do we celebrate it?

“Remember, remember the fifth of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot.” What happened on the 5th of November, and why should we remember?

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November the 5th is traditionally known as Bonfire Night.  

Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the King – King James I - and the Houses of Parliament. On 5th November 1605, he was found with a large amount of gunpowder, after plotting to kill the monarch. 

The reasoning for this was that King James the first was not very accepting of Catholics. 

Robert Catesby decided to create a small group to carry out his plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament, Guy Fawkes being in this group. 

Catesby had come up with a plan one year before, and he came up with the idea to use a gunpowder plot. He received help from other people in his small group. 

Another group member called Thomas Percy leased the vault that was set for explosion. They actually transported the 36 barrels of gun powder across the Thames.  

Guy Fawkes was eventually captured in the House of Lords after the plot was revealed to the authorities through an anonymous letter that said not to attend Parliament as something unholy was going to happen.  This was sent to William Parker, the 4th Baron Monteagle, on 26th October 1605, shortly before they had set out their attack and lead them to investigate further. 

After the plan failed Guy Fawkes was captured by the King’s men, and that night members of the public celebrated by lighting bonfires around London, mocking Guy Fawkes. 

The tradition of bonfires and fireworks still survives to this day, with the lighting of bonfires and the burning of Guy Fawkes “figures” across the country every year on the 5th November. 

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