The Fifth of November
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!
Some Facts About Guy Fawkes and Today
Guy Fawkes, or Guido Fawkes, converted to Catholicism when he was about 16. At the time, religious teaching was dictated by the Church of England which would not tolerate Roman Catholicism. Therefore it was difficult for followers of the Catholic faith to worship freely in England. Guy Fawkes and the other members of the Gunpowder Plot were all Catholics and the plot was a response to the repression they experienced.
Guy Fawkes was an experienced soldier. Although he didn’t fight for his country, he fought for the Spanish against the Dutch in the Netherlands. This is where he gained experience with explosives, and also where he decided to call himself Guido, probably because it sounded Spanish.
Although Guy Fawkes wasn’t the main conspirator in the Gunpowder Plot, he probably had one of the most important roles. A cellar below the Houses of Parliament was rented by the members of the plot which was filled with 36 barrels of gunpowder. There was enough gunpowder that it would have completely destroyed the building and caused damage to buildings within a one mile radius of it. Guy Fawkes was in charge of guarding the gunpowder, and, if he hadn’t have been caught, would have been the person that lit it. It is claimed that, although there was enough gunpowder to cause quite considerable damage, the gunpowder had actually “decayed” and, if it had been lit, would not have exploded!
During his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot, Fawkes called himself John Johnson and when he was arrested and asked to give his name, this is the name he gave.
Despite being involved in what is basically a terrorist plot, Guy Fawkes was named the 30th Greatest Briton in a poll conducted by the BBC in 2002.
Guy Fawkes’ signatures under torture, it took up four days for Guy Fawkes to admit to his part in the Gunpowder Plot and give names of other people involved in it. His signature on the written confession after torture, which is still held by the National Archives, was very faint and weak (shown in the top half of the image on the right). A signature on a confession written eight days later shows his name, which he wrote as “Guido” much more clearly (the bottom signature in the image on the left). Fawkes and other people involved in the Gunpowder Plot were tried on January 31st 1606 and then hung, drawn and quartered in the Old Palace Yard in Westminster. Contrary to popular belief, Fawkes wasn’t thrown onto a bonfire. That only happens to straw dummies made of him since.
Nowadays many people tend to refer to a man as a “guy”. Originally, guy was a term for an “ugly, repulsive person” in reference to Guy Fawkes. Straw effigies made of Guy Fawkes and thrown onto bonfires to remember the Gunpowder Plot were also known as “guys”. Over time “guy” began to be used as a term for a man (possibly as a half-meant insult), and is a word in common use today.
November 5 became Guy Fawkes Day, and this evolved into a great celebration in England, and so it remains. During the penal periods, bands of revelers would put on masks and visit local Catholics in the dead of night, demanding beer and cakes for their celebration: trick or treat! Guy Fawkes Day originally arrived in the American colonies with the first English settlers. But by the time of the American Revolution, old King James and Guy Fawkes had pretty much been forgotten. Trick or treat, though, was too much fun to give up, so eventually it moved to October 31, the day of the Irish-French masquerade. And in America, trick or treat wasn’t limited to Catholics. This celebration along with the mixture of various immigrant traditions mixed together and created what we know as Halloween.
- The Gun Powder Plot (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/gunpowder_plot_of_1605.htm)
- Fun Facts (http://www.tenfactsabout.co.uk/0012guyfawkes.htm)
- Origins of Halloween (http://www.ucatholic.com/blog/the-catholic-origins-of-halloween/)