Thursday, November 5, 2009

Guy Fawkes

Today is Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated in England with bonfires and with stuffed effigies that children use to extort money and sweets.

On November 5th 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught leaving a rented cellar adjacent to the Houses of Parliament where a subsequent search discovered 36 barrels of gunpowder, enough explosives to break all the windows within a kilometer's radius and exterminate the Mother of Parliaments and King James I during the State Opening scheduled for that day. The Catholic conspirators also planned to kidnap the royal children. They expected a popular uprising to follow that would restore the kingdom to the Catholic faith. If they had succeeded the King James Bible would, like the breed of spaniels, have been named after James's son Charles instead. Unless, of course, the kidnapping had succeeded as well; in that event, who knows. History is a mare's nest of causes and effects.

James I appears once in A Book of Ages. Charles I also appears once. Fawkes doesn't appear at all, but does feature prominently in the film "V for Vendetta." Some consider Guy Fawkes the patron saint of anarchists and pyromaniacs. What the anarchists couldn't achieve, Parliament achieved, at least partly, by legal means, when they beheaded Charles I in 1649.

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