The Huffington Post published my column “The Truth about Guy Fawkes’ Day“, on what we should remember on the fifth of November.
In this blog entry, I’ve posted some documentaries on the Fifth of November 1605 and the Fifth of November 1688.
The Gunpowder Plot
In 2005, the documentary “Guy Fawkes: Exploding the Legend” demonstrated quite convincingly that if Guy Fawkes had lit the fuse on his barrels of gunpowder in the cellar of the House of Lords, he would have succeeded in killing everyone inside in the most brazen act of terrorism in modern history and plunged both England and Scotland into chaos.
As David Starkey shows in his book Crown and Country and his documentary on the same, we must view the Gunpowder Plot another episode in the ongoing religious wars between Catholics and Protestants in early modern Europe. Guy Fawkes himself had fought in the Dutch War for Independence on the side of Catholic Spain; he applied his expertise in explosives to the Gunpowder Plot. James VI & I of Scotland & England, who saw himself as the Rex pacificus, concluded a peace treaty that ended the 20-year war between Catholic Spain and Protestant England. The terms of the treaty alienated both dissenting Protestants (non-Church of England) and extreme Catholics: England would no longer champion Protestantism on the Continent, but it would also not introduce toleration for Catholics at home. Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators would have used the Gunpowder Plot to express their displeasure at James’s new foreign and religious policies.
Starkey says, “If the gunpowder had exploded as planned, it would have been the terrorist bombing to end all terrorist bombings – wiping out most of the British Royal Family and the entire English political establishment.”
The Glorious Revolution: The Fifth of November 1688
I also remember the 5th of November 1688: the start of the liberal-constitutional Glorious Revolution, which gave rise to the English Bill of Rights, 1689. Those Whiggish principles in turn heavily influenced the Declaration of Independence, and the American Bill of Rights. All liberal-constitutional thought in the English-speaking world traces its origins to that day, the Fifth of November 1688.
- 1774: Thomas Jefferson, the Rights of British Americans, and the Origins of the Commonwealth Realms
- George III, Parliament, and the Loss of the American Colonies
- David Starkey’s Documentary, Monarchy
- The Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
- The Line of Succession and the Commonwealth Realms
- Personal Union of the Crowns of England and Scotland