AND BRER FAWKES HE LAY LOW
Please to remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot
I see of no reason why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below
Poor old England to overthrow…
Guy Fawkes, also known as Guido, was a protester some four hundred years ago, a member of a group of English Catholics who were dismayed at having a Protestant as King of England. Their protests eventually moved beyond the verbal assaults (“Hi de hay, hi de ho, King James the First has got to go”) down the slippery slope to gunpowder, treason and plot.
Guy Fawkes was born in England in 1570 but as a young man went off to Europe to fight in the Eighty Years’ War (not the entire war, of course) on the side of Catholic Spain. He hoped that in return Spain would back his Occupy the Throne movement in England. Spain wasn’t interested.
Guy returned to England and fell in with some fellow travelers. Realizing that the Occupy the Throne movement required removing the person who was currently sitting on it, the group plotted to assassinate him. They rented a spacious undercroft beneath Westminster Palace where they amassed a good supply of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was left in charge of the gunpowder.
Unfortunately, someone snitched on them and Fawkes was captured on November 5. Subjected to waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation methods, Fawkes told all and was condemned to death. (Evidently, James I was not amused.) Just before his scheduled execution, Fawkes jumped from the scaffold, breaking his neck and cheating the English out of a good hanging.
Since then the English have celebrated the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 with the November 5 celebration, an integral part of which is burning Guy Fawkes (and sometimes others) in effigy. Seems like a long time to hold a grudge.