Guy Fawkes ... was a Catholic fanatic who attempted to explode The English Parliament.

[Guy Fawkes had] expertise with gunpowder [which] gave him a key - and very perilous - role in the conspiracy, to source and ignite the explosive. But 18 months of careful planning was foiled with just hours to go, when he was arrested at midnight on 4 November 1605 beneath the House of Lords. [1]

Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed. [2]

Anti-Catholicism, Bonfire Night and Pope Night

In England November the 5th, the night the gunpowder plot was foiled, was celebrated with bonfires and fireworks. It was referred to as 'Guy Fawkes night' or 'Bonfire night'. Before the 20th Century there was frequently a strong anti-Catholic element to the celebrations but anti Catholicism gradually reduced over time. In the 21st Century English people let off a great many fireworks in late October, early November and November 5tth is one of many nights when this happens.

In the USA Guy Fawkes Night evolved as a celebration of Parliamentary Governance. Among Puritans and those who advocated more religious reform, it was often extremely anti-Catholic. While this anti-Catholicism was downplayed over the years, it persisted in the Puritan populated Colonies of the Americas as Pope Night. Pope Night celebrations generally continued in the Puritan Colonies until the mid 1760s, and perhaps much later in more rural areas. The Alliance of French and American Colonial forces during the American Revolution prompted the repression of the overt anti-Catholic festival by General Washington and Rebel Governments. Interestingly, these Colonial festivals may have been the been the basis for the later celebration of Halloween.


  1. Fawkes and Bonfire Night
  2. Guy Fawkes
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