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Russian Woman Journal
Culture

Wednesday 5 November  2008

DOUG R. (England)

Noises in November

 

village houseFireworks and Bangers.

(Bangers is slang for sausages and also for the type of firework that goes off with a bang)

What are they do with Henry the Eighth?

As with many ‘British’ traditions, it was another Celtic event high-jacked and modernised into a more acceptable excuse for a party (festival).

Samhain was a Celtic festival dated 31 Oct or 6 November depending on your maths.
It marked the end of summer, the need to prepare for winter and as a symbol of clearing away old rubbish.
The ceremony involved a bonfire featuring an effigy of some local villain. This was made by stuffing old clothes with straw placed on the top of a heap of scrap wood and set alight. Recognise that?

Everyone enjoys a good fire. It is fun for kids. It is a good excuse to enjoy some bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes) a hot soup or stew, beer or mulled wine and a general open air social get together.
Their version of an outdoor barbeque perhaps?

Anti Roman Catholics
Why Henry the Eighth?
Henry instigated the moves to drive out Roman Catholics and their influence.
His daughter Queen Mary tried to reverse this with extremely vicious and unpopular measures against objectors.

When Henry’s other daughter, Elizabeth, came to the throne, she recognised the national mood and re-emphasised the outright English hostility towards Catholics.

She introduced laws which were specifically anti-Catholic;
Fines for those not attending Protestant church services on Sundays and other Holy Days.
Catholics could not be appointed to any important state positions.
A royal family member could not marry a Catholic.

Many such laws remained valid until the nineteenth century.
Such anti-catholic attitudes provoked reactions. These grumbled underground unnoticed.

Kill the King and destroy Parliament
A plot was hatched to kill King James and obliterate the entire Houses of Parliament.
A group of conspirators formed around a basis of 5 people.

Robert Gatesby of Holbeache House in Staffordshire, who seems to have been the main instigator.
Thomas Wintour of Westminster.
Thomas Percy also of Holbeache House Staffordshire.
John Wright of Welwick in Yorkshire.
And of course
Guy Fawkes of York.

Guy Fawkes
born a Protestant in 1570, attended a local school, St Peter’s, outside York.
A fellow pupil was Kit Wright brother of John Wright. This connection became important.

His father died in 1579. His mother remarried into the Catholic family of Bainbridge.
Although baptised a Protestant in 1570, it seems he was heavily influenced by his step-father concerning his religion.
His old headmaster, John Pullen, was suspected to be an undercover Jesuit.

In about 1593, by now about 21 years old, he sold off his inherited property and joined the (Catholic) Spanish army as a mercenary soldier for twelve years.
Under the Archduke Albert of Austria, he fought to retain Flanders within the Spanish Empire.
At the siege of Calais he was promoted to the rank of Officer by King Phillip of Spain.
The army considered him an expert in gunpowder and explosions.
They had trained him as a miner and tunneler.

In 1603 he visited King Phillip in Spain to discuss the possibilities of invading England. There he met his old school friend Chris Wright.
He returned to England with Thomas Wintour in April 1604.

village houseFateful Meeting of the Conspirators.
In May 1604, they held their organisation meeting on with Robert Gatesby at the public house ‘The Duck and Drake’ in York. The event would be carefully organised. It was intended to be the start of a great national Catholic uprising.

It was agreed that Guy Fawkes control the demolition arrangements.
Barrels of gunpowder would be supplied by a Robert Keyes of Lambeth.
Horses would be provided by Sir Everard Digby of Coughton Court.

A house was purchased. Conveniently the cellars ran directly underneath the adjacent Houses of Parliament.

The Plan
King James would attend the next Opening of Parliament, as part of his normal duties.. Fawkes would ignite 36 barrels of gunpowder stored ready and fused in the cellar, thus blowing King and Parliament to eternity.

Betrayed
At some stage soon after the pub meeting, Francis Teshaw, one of the outer circle, was motivated to write to his brother in law, Lord Monteagle, urging him not to attend the next Opening of Parliament ceremony. He would be expected to attend because he was a Lord.

But Lord Monteagle showed the letter to Robert Cecil, the Prime Minister. Suspicions were aroused, an immediate thorough search of the area was made.

Soldiers discovered the barrels in place ready fused and prepared for ignition.
Some say Guy Fawkes was caught sitting by the fuse ready to fire it. Others say he was arrested when he entered the building.
What is sure is he was arrested around midnight on 4 November. On 7 November he was told the other plotters had been arrested. He then admitted part of their plan was to free Sir Walter Raleigh and several others imprisoned in the Tower at the time.
He was executed on 31 January 1606.

Bonfires for Deliverance
King James decreed this date should always be celebrated all over England by a great bonfire every year. It was a ‘joyful day of deliverance from Catholic control.’
His act remained in force until 1859.

Early versions had a life size effigy of the Pope as bonfire victim. This continued at least until 1806. The American colonies called it Pope Day.

In the Sussex town of Lewes, ‘Bonfire Boys’ still today parade in special costumes carrying 17 open flame torches. This commemorates 1555-7 when 17 Protestants were martyred in the High Street.

Originally bonfires were held in people’s back gardens. Today’s safety attitude has led to more community organised events with highly professional firework displays.
Communal mulled wine, bangers and mash, hot soup and stew are still on the menu.

In the days before 5 November, kids in the street stop you so you can admire their version of a straw packed guy and then give them an offering of money. Originally the idea was to help the kids pay for their fireworks. Events have moved on. They are not allowed to buy fireworks. They just want the money…

Remember remember the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
We see no reason why
Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

 

DOUG R. (England)

 

 

Recent articles of Doug R.:

 

Published in Woman's Magazine Russian Woman Journal  www.russianwomanjournal.com -   5 November 2008

Culture



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