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November 06, 2006

Remember, remember, the 5th of November ...

Gunpowder, treason and plot ...

The customary commemoration of the failed attempt to blow up Parliament - and King James I - on November the 5th is, for me, something of a mixed "celebration". There is one school in England where it is never marked, in fact they have a statue of the man outside it as he was an "Old Boy" and apparently no slouch either. Why do I have mixed feelings over him?

Well, we would have to acknowledge that his attempt was inspired by the Puritanical proscription on the practice of Catholicism and the hanging, burning and beheading of Catholic priests and their supporters and followers. Other countries in the 17th Century burned witches, we burned Catholics and witches. We would also have to acknowledge that he is the first recorded would be suicide bomber. He was unlikely to have survived lighting the fuze since he would have had to remain in the cellars to ensure it burned correctly and no one dscovered it in time to stop the train. He is often portrayed as a dupe, someone gullible who could be ensnared by the more influential plotters and then sacrificed to their advantage, but I don't think that is a true picture at all. His school record shows him to have been an intelligent but unremarkable student. He wasn't wealthy, but he certainly was a member of the landed gentry classes. He was also a devout Roman Catholic in an age and in a nation when to be a Catholic was to be associated with the Spanish attempts to invade and certainly to be associated with the Papl attempts to undermine the English Crown. I suspect there may also have been an element of let's dispose of the Stuart usurpers ....

The other part of my difficulty with Guido Fawkes is the fact that he was probably the last, if not the only, man to have entered any Parliament with completely honest intentions. One wonders where his modern day equivalent is now that we need him! I think I shall mark his passing in somewhat quieter style than is usual - and salute him as a man of conviction and honesty.

Posted by The Gray Monk at November 6, 2006 09:17 PM

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