Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Ffifth of November

English: Fireworks display, Aykley Heads, Durham
English: Fireworks display, Aykley Heads, Durham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Sparkler, violent reaction (guy fawke...
English: Sparkler, violent reaction (guy fawkes) Français : Cierge magique pendant la nuit de Guy Fawkes, en Angleterre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English Folk Verse (c.1870)

The Fifth of November


Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England's overthrow.
But, by God's providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
I'll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!


I know, today is the 6th of November but still better late than never.

On the 5th November 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with several dozen barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was subsequently tried as a traitor with his co-conspirators for plotting against the government. He was tried by Judge Popham who came to Londonspecifically for the trial from his country manor Littlecote House in Hungerford, Gloucestershire. Fawkes was sentenced to death and the form of the execution was one of the most horrendous ever practised (hung ,drawn and quartered) which reflected the serious nature of the crime of treason.

A contemporary engraving of eight of the thirteen conspirators, by Crispijn van de Passe.
 Fawkes is third from the right.


Within a few decades Gunpowder Treason Day, as it was known, became the predominant English state commemoration, but as it carried strong religious overtones it also became a focus for anti-Catholic sentiment.Puritans delivered sermons regarding the perceived dangers of popery, while during increasingly raucous celebrations common folk burnt effigies of popular hate-figures, such as the pope.

Top: Signature of
Top: Signature of "Guido" on his confession under torture, very faint and shaky. Bottom: Signature of "Guido Fawkes" on a further confession 8 days after being tortured. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Towards the end of the 18th century reports appear of children begging for money with effigies of Guy Fawkes and 5 November gradually became known as Guy Fawkes Day. Towns such as Lewes and Guildford were in the 19th century scenes of increasingly violent class-based confrontations, fostering traditions those towns celebrate still, albeit peaceably. In the 1850s changing attitudes eventually resulted in the toning down of much of the day's anti-Catholic rhetoric, and in 1859 the original 1606 legislation was repealed. Eventually, the violence was dealt with, and by the 20th century Guy Fawkes Day had become an enjoyable social commemoration, although lacking much of its original focus. The present-day Guy Fawkes Night is usually celebrated at large organised events, centred around a bonfire and extravagant firework displays.
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1 comment:

  1. One day I'm going to read and review V for Vendetta for November 5, 2012.

    ReplyDelete

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