Guy Fawkes' Night

Guy Fawkes has famously been described as the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions. Be that as it may, we commemorate tonight the Gunpowder Plot, the intention of which was to destroy the king, nobility and MPs in one fell swoop. The plan was to then place a Catholic on the throne, and revert England to Catholicism.

I have no doubt that Catholic were suffering in Jacobean England. The Pope under Elizabeth I had foolishly informed Catholics that killing her was no sin; this forced her to pass laws restricting Catholics and the exercise of their faith. Nevertheless, had Guy Fawkes’ underground explosion succeeded, the fires of Smithfield would once again have been fuelled by Protestant flesh.

Fawkes was born at York, on the site of the public house shown in the photo. It’s just across the road from the evangelical St Michael le Belfry in which Fawkes was baptised. He’d been born to Anglican parents but converted to Rome when his widowed mother remarried a Catholic. As a young man, he spent years fighting for Spain against the Protestant Dutch and then for the French. He even requested support from Phillip of Spain to fund rebellion in England.


Remember, remember, the 5th of November

The Gunpowder Treason and plot;

I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason

Should ever be forgot.


Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'Twas his intent,

To blow up the King and Parliament;

Three score barrels of powder below,

Poor old England to overthrow.


Thanks to his failure, England remained a Protestant nation, in which, eventually, peoples of all faiths and none could freely operate.