November 05, 2005

Plot by religious fanatics to blow up Parliament foiled - 400 years ago today.

Most famous of the conspirators Guy Fawkes will be burnt in effigy at Bonfire Night celebrations up and down the UK (some places have even more spectacular traditions). Fawkes was captured, tortured into confession, then tried and executed along with others from his group. Though he still maintains an interest in parliamentary affairs.

  • Remember, remember! Not over here, yet, though. Few more hours yet.
  • *starts constructing effigy out of dorm furniture, newspapers and roomates clothing* *flicks lighter* FOOMP!
  • Heh, homunculus, I had this link to work in there too originally but decided against.
  • Is it bad of me to be thinking he might've had the right idea? Just, you know, the wrong continent? /wanders off
  • Is this an anti-Catholic thing? I dunno, cause I don't get that channel on my tv . . .
  • The little-known story of what happened to some of Guido Fawkes' co-conspirators is one of my favourites: Fleeing London, they sought refuge in a Staffordshire manor house belonging to one of the conspirators. Determined not to be taken without a fight, they dug in and prepared for a siege, fortifying the house as best they could. They were worried, however, about their remaining gunpowder, which had been dampened by the heavy rains on the journey. So they decided to dry it out. In front of an open fire. It was pretty easy to arrest them after that.
  • Is this an anti-Catholic thing? As I understand of the history of the Elizabethan and Jacobean period it was then that the sense of a cohesive English nationhood was cemented and that largely a self-definition as a bastion of the Protestant cause against 'Popish superstition'. A quick skim of this article looks like the arguments are set out there (along with an interesting perspective on the role of gender which I hadn't thought about). You get a sense of the vehemence of anit-catholicism surviving in the rhetoric of Northern Irish politicians of the Paisley stripe, who seem to see politics as a branch of historical reenactment. Can't say I noticed it as much of an active force growing up Catholic in England myself though of course sectarianism still underpinned things like football rivaries, most notably between the Old Firm teams in Glasgow (Scotland's quite a different case anyhow) but also still to an extent Liverpool and Everton. But then we still have the Act of Settlement so the issues of the past cast a shadow on constitutional practice today. Having attended many a Bonfire Night in blissful ignorance myself I prefer to think that it's the universal appeal of burning things and blowing shit up that keeps November the 5th special.
  • No Popery in Lewes. I always wondered what the Prods had against dried flowers. Life's always better after a laboured pun.
  • Ah well, I can fully understand and appreciate blowing shit up. Just wondered, because a cursory reading of the story would seem to indicate it was more religious-based than it probably is.
  • Oh, good lord. Hordes of pissed-off pyros can't be good. Besides, we have to celebrate a triumph of democracy over terrorism, right?
  • I blame the underminiacal Opus Guy organization
  • Two irritating things about that story. First, it's another example of how the media has entirely lost track of the distinction between some institution choosing not to do something itself, and 'banning' it. Second, a Bengali council imposing Bengali culture on other people's traditions surely isn't political correctness, as it might be if the council were Anglo-Saxon: it's either massive thoughtlessness - or possibly something altogether nastier.
  • :?
  • 12:01AM UTC on November 06?! Damn you, MonkeyFilter!
  • Interesting read, homunculus- thanks. I saw V is for Vendetta recently and although the movie had some serious flaws, there was a Orwellian element to it that seemed depressingly plausible. I was surprised to find that it was written as a response to the Thatcher govt. because I was sure that it had to be aimed at Bushco.
  • The original comic book was written with Thatcher in mind, but the Wachowskis targeted the movie at Bush. I recommend the graphic novel.
  • The three 'lessons' in that Harpers piece don't really seem to follow from the Gunpowder Plot at all. The use of torture did extract the names of conspirators. It was routine at the time and it's nonsense to suggest it gave James I a reputation for cruelty. I don't see how the story of the plot shows that James I ruled by fear, or needed to be afraid of the people. On the contrary, his survival was so popular it apparently led to a spontaneous festival of national rejoicing which we have been repeating with fireworks ever since. As for stereotyping, if anything the plot would tend to show that James was right to be suspicious of Catholics - they really were out to kill him and overthrow the government. Some people have suggested it was actually staged to make this point. The article bizarrely goes on to suggest that it was bigotry of the kind allegedly displayed here by James I that eventually led to the Civil War. But in fact, the split between King and Parliament was widened and worsened by Royal leanings towards Catholicism: if James' heir had been a bigoted Protestant, there would have been a much better chance of a peaceful accomodation. I'm not saying, torture, rule by fear, stereotyping and bigotry are good - just that our arguments against them should make sense.
  • If you had to extract a lesson from the GP, I think it would more plausibly be that terrorism doesn't work and plays into the hands of authoritarian opposition.
  • Absolutely. I for one just like standing in the cold waving a sparkler about, watching a bonfire and going "ooh" at fireworks. For me it's the start of the run-up to that other meaningless tradition, Xmas.
  • Good points, Plegmund. Though regarding torture, the author's point as I understand it is that while the torture confirmed the names of the conspirators, it didn't reveal any new information that the torturers didn't already know. Which reminds me of something else: James Stockdale wrote a fascinating short book called Courage Under Fire about his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. If I remember right, he said that when his Vietnamese torturers already knew he knew a specific piece of information, then there was no way for him to keep it from them, but they couldn't get him to reveal new information they didn't already know anything about. That sounds like the same thing as happened with Fawkes. As for stereotyping, I think it's the same as saying that 9/11 proved Americans right to be suspicious of all muslims. I thought the author was simply saying it's unfair to blame the whole group for the actions of a few individuals, but he didn't spell it out very well.