Thursday, October 23, 2008

Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot

Source: Google Video

On Friday, the philosophy club will present a showing of the film V For Vendetta (2005), directed by James McTeigue, and based on a graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore. Following the showing of the film, Dr. Matthew Butkus will lead a discussion of philosophical themes in the movie. The main conceit of the film is that the character V, who hides behind a mask of Guy Fawkes, threatens to destroy the House of Parliament on November 5th, the anniversary of the gunpowder plot.

It was on that day in 1605 that a group of conspirators led by Robert Catesby hoped to overthrow the government of King James I with the help of a Guy Fawkes. Fawkes, who had become an explosives expert as a soldier fighting for Catholic Spain, shared the conspirator's disdain for Protestant rule. It was hoped that by blowing up the Parliament building during the state opening -- killing both James and the Protestant Aristocracy -- the resulting upheaval would result in Catholic nobility returning to power in England. But on the night of November 4th, Fawkes was captured in a vault beneath the House of Lords, guarding a cache of 36 barrels of gunpowder. His capture put an end to the consiracy, and the discovery of the plot turned public sentiment even more strongly in support of Protestant rule.

To this day, November 5th is a national holiday in the United Kingdom, and is celebrated with the exploding of fireworks.


In the Library:

• Fraser, Antonia. 1996. Faith and Treason: the Story of the Gunpowder Plot . New York: Doubleday. [WorldCat]
• Gardiner, Samuel Rawson. 1969. What Gunpowder Plot Was . New York: AMS Press. [WorldCat]

On the Web:

BBC History - The Gunpowder Plot
UK Parliament - Gunpowder Plot