November 5, 1605 – Remember, Remember… the Fourth Of November?

On November 5, 1605, the British revolutionist Guy Fawkes, is discovered lurking in a cellar below the British Parliament building just hours before Parliament and King James I were scheduled to meet.  During a search of the premises that followed, 20 barrels of gunpowder were found hidden directly beneath the Parliament building.  In what became known as the Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes, along with other revolutionaries, had intended to replace the Protestant dominated Parliament with a Catholic leadership buy blowing up the whole lot of them.  November 5th is now celebrated annually in England as Guy Fawkes Day to celebrate the failure of this terrible plot.

Here’s what you generally don’t hear:

  1. On the night of November 3, 1605, Guy Fawkes’ wife, Gal Fawkes, overhears her husband and his cohorts finalizing their plans for the destruction of Parliament.  Knowing it may be the last time she will see him, Gal spends the following day preparing a feast for her soon to be “hero” husband.  During dinner, Guy explains to his family how difficult it was to move the large barrels of gunpowder and his exaggerated hand gestures knock over a glass of wine, which Gal quickly soaks up with a piece of paper she takes from the table.  The paper happens to be Guy’s one and only map of the cellar and is rendered unreadable.  Unable to find his way back to the barrels early the next morning, Fawkes is spotted wandering aimlessly along the cellar corridors.  Today November 4th is designated Gal Fawkes Day in England and people celebrate by cleaning up their messes with only their most important documents.
  2. After his arrest and ensuing torture, Guy Fawkes was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, which seems quite unpleasant.  Fawkes must have thought the same because as he climbed to the gallows he did a swan dive from the ladder, breaking his own neck.  This dive technique known as the Fawkes Flop, was briefly resurrected by the British Olympic high dive team in the early 1900’s, but was quickly banned due to its high risk level and “extreme lack of decency”.
  3. The Guy Fawkes mask has become popular in recent years as a symbol of public dissent (i.e. during the Occupy Wall Street debacle).  It is mostly worn by ignorant hipsters who don’t understand that it represents a failed terrorist (these are the same folks who were wearing the Che Guevara shirts fifteen years ago because he was such a swell guy).  In actuality, Guy Fawkes was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask at the time of his arrest.  When asked why he would wear a mask resembling his own face to commit the crime, he responded, “If I can’t blow you up, I’ll at least blow your mind.”

*The Guy Fawkes mask.  Guy Fawkes

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