If your London relocation agents have done their jobs properly, then you should be properly settled into your new flat rental, and able to enjoy all that the city has offer. This will give you the perfect opportunity after relocating to London to take in the rich history London has behind it.

No doubt, you’re familiar with the Guy Fawkes celebrations, held every year on the fifth of November. The celebrations are noted for their extensive displays of fireworks and the use of a man-sized-doll that is burnt on a bonfire. You may also have heard the words “Remember, remember the fifth of November” and wondered where they came from.

The Guy Fawkes celebrations stem from a failed plot by a group of English Catholics to assassinate the King of England, King James the 1st, a Protestant. Once he was out of the way, it was intended that he be replaced with a Catholic instead. The conspirators were made up of a group of disgruntled provincial and English Catholics dissatisfied with living under a non-Catholic monarchy. This dissatisfaction came of the fact that Catholicism was facing increasing marginalization in England, with Queen Elizabeth the 1st enforcing a law that stated that everyone living under the crown had to swear their loyalty to the monarch as both the head of state and the head of the Church. Refusal to do so would see fines imposed on offenders and even risk of imprisonment and execution.

Even under the relatively moderate ruling of King James the 1st (who had a far more tolerant approach to Catholics compared to Elizabeth before him), Catholics still felt, if not under attack, then certainly sidelined. It was in this climate that a group of thirteen men came together to plot the king’s assassination. Though the day is famously named after Guy Fawkes, the original instigator of the plot was a man named Robert Catesby, a man who had long held some dislike for the monarchy, proven by the fact that he took a mission to Spain to encourage the King there to invade England. The plan was spurred on by King James passing anti-Catholic legislation.

The plan, such as it was, was to tunnel into Parliament and deposit explosives and gunpowder underneath the buildings. Then, on the day of the opening of Parliament, the explosives would be detonated, killing the king as well as several key members of Parliament. Unfortunately, what they couldn’t foresee was the repeated delay of the opening of Parliament, a delay caused by the fear from the plague blighting London at the time. Even as the opening was postponed, there were 36 barrels of gunpowder sitting under the Houses, waiting for Guy Fawkes (operating under the name John Johnson) to light the fuse. Once the fuse was lit, Fawkes would escape across the Thames and leave England for Europe. The plan eventually came apart when the wives of those in the group, concerned for the devastation the attack and the risk of the loss of innocent lives, decided to write a letter which passed from hand to hand till reached the king.

A search of the Houses of Parliament was conducted and in the events that followed, Guy Fawkes was arrested and the barrels of explosive discovered. When news got out of Fawkes’ arrest, the rest of the conspirators fled the city. In order to get information out of Fawkes, his interrogators used torture techniques. Despite this, Fawkes obstinately refused to give up and it was only after hours of torture that he gave up his real name and then after another day, the identities of the other conspirators.

Fawkes along with the rest of the conspirators was found guilty and sentenced to be executed. On the 31 of November, 1606, he, along with another three of the group were hung, drawn and quartered.

After that, a day of celebration commemorating the King’s escape from assassination was encouraged, with Parliament even putting forward an act stating that the 5th of November be seen as a day of joyful remembrance. The day was celebrated with the lighting of bonfires, a tradition that has remained in place even up till today.

Along with the celebrations came this poem which became attached to the Guy Fawkes Celebrations

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

So now you know all about the story behind Guy Fawkes and if you’re moving to London, and recently finished your international relocation you can take part in the celebrations this winter like a true Londoner.

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