Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Remember, Remember the fifth of November ..

"Remember, Remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot."

In an age when establishments of whatever kind are unpopular it is perhaps not surprising that the most famous of a gang of plotters who once attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament should have been reinvented in popular culture as a kind of heroic rebel.

Yet the last thing that Robert Catesby, (the real leader of the gunpowder plotters,) Guido Fawkes and the remainder of the conspirators of November 1605 wanted was a Britain in which the majority of the people would have had the freedom to choose their own religion, or any other kind of freedom.

Far from being freedom fighters the plotters were classic religious fundamentalist terrorists - the Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr al Baghdadi of the seventeenth century.

They perceived the first king of the United Kingdom, James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England, as a tyrant who persecuted Roman Catholics - but they wanted to replace him with a catholic monarch whose regime would have persecuted protestants.

The most likely result if the plotters had succeeded in decapitating parliament would have been a short but extremely bloody civil war which an enraged protestant majority would have won, followed by a pogrom against Roman Catholics. As is so often the case, those who suffered worst from the act of terrorism which Robert Catesby and Guido Fawkes attempted to perpetrate would have been the very people they thought they were trying to help.

Bonfire night is not a celebration of Fawkes and his fellow plotters but of the fact that they were caught and the atrocity they plotted was prevented.

Those who use his image to represent freedom fighters and heroic rebels are promoting a myth which bears little resemblance to the facts of history.

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