Trivia Minute November 5, 2015

208: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot

by Marcus Michelson
A portrait of Guy Fawkes.
A portrait of Guy Fawkes.

Today marks the 410th anniversary of the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, an assassination attempt against King James I of England.

Here are a few things you may not have known about what has come to be celebrated as Guy Fawkes Night.

A group of English Catholics planned to blow up the House of Lords while the King was participating in the State Opening of Parliament. The plotters hoped that the assassination would trigger an uprising in the English Midlands that would have seen James’ Catholic daughter Elizabeth installed as queen.

The plot was discovered following an anonymous letter that was sent to William Parker, the Baron Monteagle, warning him not to attend the Opening of Parliament to avoid perishing in the explosion.

One of the plotters, Guy Fawkes was discovered during a search of the basement under Parliament. He was guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder and was arrested. During interrogation, Fawkes was tortured, possibly on the rack, until he gave his true identity and named his co-conspirators.

On January 31, 1606, Fawkes and three others were scheduled to be drawn, hanged and quartered as punishment for the plot. Fawkes managed to jump from the gallows and died of a broken neck. The three others were executed without incident. Their bodies were then quartered and sent to the four corners of the kingdom as a warning to would-be traitors.

On the night of Fawkes’ arrest, the people of London were encouraged to celebrate the failure of the plot by lighting bonfires. Fireworks were added to the celebration in the 1650s, and later people began burning effigies, usually of Fawkes.

Our question, A mask of Guy Fawkes is worn by the main character in what comic book series and subsequent movie?

Today is unofficially National Doughnut Day, National Love Your Red Hair Day and National Men Make Dinner Day. It’s the birthday of actor/musician Roy Rogers, actress Vivien Leigh and musician Art Garfunkel.

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