UK News: Celebrating 120 years of radical Renaults - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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UK News Celebrating 120 years of radical Renaults

20:00  28 october  2019
20:00  28 october  2019 Source:   motoringresearch.com

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a group of fireworks in the sky © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Every Bonfire Night, Brits flock to their nearest waterlogged field en-masse to huddle together, eat toffee apples and cheerfully burn effigies of a failed terrorist.

The annual November firework bonanza is so ingrained in the national consciousness it can be possible to lose sight of its historical origins.

So, for the uninitiated (or for anyone whose recollection of school history lessons is a bit rusty) here's a brief guide to why we remember Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.

a group of fireworks in the sky © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

When is Bonfire Night 2019?

a group of people wearing costumes © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Bonfire Night is on 5 November every year, although with this year's falling on a Tuesday most of the larger-scale firework displays will be taking place on the preceding Friday and Saturday.

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There are events all across the UK, from the vast Blackheath Common display – which attracts crowds 100,000 strong – to the effigy burning in Lewes (last year's "winner" was the now-prime minister Boris Johnson).

an old stone building © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

However, organisers and revellers alike will be hoping the weather doesn't dampen proceedings, after grim conditions characterised the weeks preceding the big night.

There are firework displays scheduled all across the UK on the weekend before Bonfire Night (Getty Images)

What was the Gunpowder Plot?

As the traditional rhyme goes: "Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot".

Bonfire Night commemorates the events of 1605, when a small group of Catholic plotters threatened to change the course of history.

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Led by charismatic religious fanatic Robert Catesby, with the help of radicalised ex-soldier Guido (or Guy) Fawkes, the would-be terrorists hatched a plan to blow up King James I along with the Prince of Wales and the Houses of Parliament.

The plot grew out of decades of religious war dating back to the reign of Henry VIII at the start of the previous century, with the Catholics' disillusionment reaching boiling point after James succeeded Elizabeth in 1603.

Guy Fawkes was recruited by Catesby to take charge of the operation in the spring of 1604 and the plotters began digging a mine beneath parliament in the summer.

Early the following year, they rented a coal cellar underneath the House of Lords and gradually moved 36 barrels of gunpowder into the chamber.

If the plot was successful, the explosion would have obliterated the parliament building, killing hundreds of ordinary Londoners along with the gang's intended targets and potentially plunging the nation into a religious war.

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Robert Catesby and his gang plotted to kill King James I and blow up the Houses of Parliament (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Why did the Gunpowder Plot fail?

The plotters came unstuck just over a week before the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November, the date chosen for their mission.

One of their number – thought by many to be Francis Tresham, who had expressed misgivings about the plot – cracked, and sent a letter of warning to the Catholic Lord Monteagle.

This prompted a search of the buildings around Parliament on 4 November, during which Fawkes was actually discovered in the cellar, surrounded by a large pile of firewood.

His excuse – that he was simply assembling supplies for winter – was initially enough to deceive the search party.

However, the wary King James, whose father Henry Stuart had been blown up in Edinburgh 40 years earlier, ordered his men to investigate again that night.

Guy Fawkes was twice discovered beneath Parliament on November 4 1605  (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A second search once more revealed Fawkes, this time with incriminating matches and fire-lighting aids on his person, and with his arrest the plot was foiled.

He was tortured, and the majority of Catesby's gang was shot down at Holbeach in Staffordshire after fleeing to the Midlands.

Fawkes was hanged, drawn and quartered with the three other surviving Catholic conspirators, facing the Palace Westminster.

Although severely weakened from torture, he managed to jump from the gallows and break his neck, thus avoiding the gruesome mutilations which would have completed his punishment.

In early 1606, an act was passed designating 5 November as a date of thanksgiving, with bonfires and fireworks soon settled upon as a suitably fitting commemoration.

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