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The Story Behind Guy Fawkes Night

The history of Guy Fawkes Night began on the 5th of November, 1605 after the arrest of Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot. He was arrested while guarding a supply of explosives placed beneath the House of Lords. The conspiracy was brought to light through a mysterious letter received by Lord Monteagle, a brother-in-law of Tresham, on October 26, urging him not to attend Parliament on the opening day.


Guy Fawkes (1570 – 1606), English conspirator in the gunpowder plot to destroy the Houses of Parliament, circa 1606. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Monteagle took steps leading to the discovery of the materials and the arrest of Fawkes as he entered the cellar. Other conspirators, overtaken in flight or seized afterward, were killed outright, imprisoned, or executed. The mission was plotted by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby, with the aim of sweeping away the then-British government by assassinating the Protestant King James I of England to restore Catholic monarchy in Britain. These plotters were enraged at the king for his refusal to grant superior religious tolerance to Catholics. If the conspiracy had not failed, the explosion would have blown up the House of Lords, causing the death of King James I and many other London residents.

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