What I Remember on the Fifth of November: The Glorious Revolution over Guy Fawkes

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.

Similar Posts


About J.W.J. Bowden

My area of academic expertise lies in Canadian political institutions, especially the Crown, political executive, and conventions of Responsible Government; since 2011, I have made a valuable contribution to the scholarship by having been published and cited extensively. I’m also a contributing editor to the Dorchester Review and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law.
This entry was posted in Constitutional Conventions, History of British North America and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

I invite reasonable questions and comments; all others will be prorogued or dissolved.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s