Tomorrow, 5th November, sees the annual celebration of the failure of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, a time of conflict and violent religious turmoil – it’s an intriguing historical event whether you celebrate that failure.. or lament it. For everything you ever wanted to know about Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby [the plot’s ring-leader] and the other disaffected 16th/17th Century Catholics involved in the plot to destroy the parliament buildings together with the king, James I, and his lords, check out the extensive Gunpowder Plot Society website.As the Society points out on the introductory page –
November 5, 1605, a solitary figure is arrested in the cellars of Parliament House. Although he first gives his name as John Johnson, a startling series of events begins to unfold under torture. Guy Fawkes, as he is really called, is one of thirteen who have conspired to blow up the parliament, the King, and his Lords, thereby throwing the whole country into turmoil, out of which these traitors hoped to raise a new monarch sympathetic to their cause, and return England to its Catholic past.
The circumstances that surround what drove these thirteen disaffected Catholics, led by the charismatic Robert Catesby, to such a desperate act are the focus of the Gunpowder Plot Society, for the circumstances are far from straighforward.
Conflicting historical details confirm one thing – that the offical account of this event that persists in our folklore cannot possibly be true.