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The Gunpowder Plot

November 5, 2021

The Gunpowder Plot was a botched attempt to blow up King James I of England and his entire Parliament on November 5, 1605. Guy Fawkes was caught with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder in the cellars beneath Westminster on that fateful midnight of November 4, 1605. He intended to assassinate King James I and blow up the House of Lords at the opening of Parliament, which was set to happen on November 5, 1605.

Robert Catesby organized the plot to end the persecution of Roman Catholics by the English government. After being tortured, Guy Fawkes confessed to being a participant in an English Catholic conspiracy with Catesby and other conspirators hoping to have Catholic leadership overpower the already existing England’s Protestant government.

Furthermore, once caught and tortured, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were all tried and sentenced to be executed for treason. On January 31, 1606, a few moments before his execution, Fawkes committed suicide by jumping from a ladder while climbing to the gallows, and as a result, broke his neck and died.

Following the failed Gunpowder Plot, the English government instituted new laws which eliminated Catholic’s rights to vote, among other oppressive restrictions. Nevertheless, in the year 1606, the Parliament established November 5, a day of public thanksgiving. 

Thus, every year on November 5, the British celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, alias Guy Fawkes Day and Bonfire Night. The celebration is to remember the Gunpowder Plot. So, when dusk falls, villagers and city dwellers across Great Britain light bonfires, set off fireworks, and burn the effigies of Guy Fawkes.


  1. Ted Herbert

    I thoroughly enjoy this slice of History, particularly those slices that I had never known, but we should all know about because these events helped to form later more well known events, both those events involving the same characters and especially those events which influenced later lives in the continued molding of America into ‘the home of the free and the brave’

    • Jean

      Thank you for providing context to this event.


      This is the basis of the fictional story V for Vendetta

  2. Sylvia Delozier

    I remember going to guy fawkes night in London with my parents, in the late 1940s. Huge bonfire, fireworks and everything else it takes for an elaborate celebration.


    This is the entire basis for the fictional V for Vendetta


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