Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes, guy, t’was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England’s overthrow.
By god’s mercy he was catch’d
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.
And what shall we do with him?
Ever since 1605, bonfires have burned on 5th November to mark the failed “Gunpowder Plot”, led by Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby who aimed to assassinate the Protestant King James and replace him with his daughter Princess Elizabeth
When Queen Elizabeth 1st took the throne of England she Passed laws preventing Catholics from practising their religion, forcing them underground. Guy Fawkes and his friends had hoped that King James 1st would change the laws back, but he didn’t.
Catholics had to practise their religion in secret and there were even fines for people who didn’t attend the Protestant church on Sunday or on holy days. James 1st passed more laws against the Catholics when he became king.
Fawkes and Catesby planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and with it the King. The plot was simple; the next time Parliament was opened by King James l, they would blow up everyone there with gunpowder.
The conspirators bought a house next door to the parliament building and filled it with gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was given the job to keep watch over the barrels of gunpowder and to light the fuse but on the morning of 5th November, soldiers discovered Fawkes hidden in the cellar and arrested him. The trail of gunpowder at his feet would never be lit.
The tradition of Guy-Fawkes related bonfire began the same year as the failed plot. At the time, Londoners knew little more than that their King had been saved, and they lit bonfires to celebrate. As the years passed, however, the ritual became more elaborate.
Fireworks were added to the celebrations, as were home-made ‘Guys’ representing Guy Fawkes which are laid on to the bonfire and burned.
Bonfire Night is not only celebrated in Britain. The tradition crossed the oceans and established itself in the British colonies during the centuries. It was actively celebrated in New England as “Pope Day” as late as the 18th century. Today, November 5th bonfires still light up in far out places like New Zealand and Newfoundland in Canada.
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