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A History Lesson For You…

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So this happened…

On November 5th, the hacker group known as Anonymous is planning to attack Facebook and bring them down. I plan to make a post about the whole hacking deal soon, but this is going to focus on November 5th and the significance that this date holds. So follow along after the jump for a little bit of history…

A lot of people I know recognize the 5th of November from the movie, V For Vendetta, which was based off the graphic novel of the same name. It’s a great read and an awesome movie, so it’s all well and good if that is where you recognize it. What I have noticed, though, is that a lot of people don’t know the meaning behind the date and why it was important to the movie. That’s where I come in, because I am a history nerd.

Way back in 1605, 13 Englishmen took issue with King James I and his lack of religious freedoms. They had assumed he would be more welcoming to Catholics following the Protestant reign of Queen Elizabeth I because he was raised with a Catholic mother. This was definitely not the case, so a group of men decided that violence was the answer and created a plot to kill the king.

The plan was developed to blow up Parliament, and hopefully end up killing King James, the Prince of Wales, and a handful of members of Parliament. In doing this, the goal was that King James’ daughter, Princess Elizabeth, would take the crown and hopefully end the persecution of Catholics in England. To do this, the conspirators placed 36 barrels of gunpowder under the House of Lords, and the Gunpowder Plot was born.

As with all plans, the 13 men involved realized that there was a high probability of innocent people who could be killed and many of them began second-guessing the plan. One of the conspirators even went so far as to write a member of Parliament and suggest that they stay away on the day of November 5th. As always, when you open your mouth about a plan like this, bad things happen and King James was alerted to the letter. This led to a raid if the cellar where the gunpowder was stored.

When King James’ men stormed the cellar, one of the conspirators was present, a man named Guy Fawkes. Upon his November 5th arrest, Fawkes gave a fake name and was tortured. He refused to implicate his co-conspirators until November 8th and finally confessed the full information. Following the trial, Fawkes was to be hanged on January 31, 1606. Before he could be executed, Fawkes jumped from the gallows and broke his neck so that he could be spared the suffering of his execution.

The legacy of the Gunpowder Plot is pretty neat. The night of November 5th, in 1605, bonfires were lit to celebrate the failed assassination of King James I. This has continued for over 400 years and has grown to be even more elaborate, with effigies being burned that feature the likeness of Fawkes, the Pope, and occasionally some other figures. One interesting addition to the celebration is that some have cynically wondered if the celebration is for the survival of King James or because someone attempted to overthrow the government.

Additionally, the Guy Fawkes mask is used by hacker group, Anonymous, as well as various internet memes. The plot is also, famously, referenced in the graphic novel and film V For Vendetta.

So there you have it, the background on Guy Fawkes, and how cool things were back in the early 1600’s for England. Next time you hear about the 5th of November, you now know why it is significant.

Sources: bonfirenight.net, britannia.com, and Wikipedia

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Written by emeraldarcher

August 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm

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