Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor
As the Occupy Wall Street protests swing into November, some of the participants – primarily in England, I imagine – plan to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night with the traditional Guy Fawkes masks and bonfires, along with burning people who annoy them in effigy.
Guy Fawkes was a protester himself some four hundred years ago, a member of a group of English Catholics who were dismayed at having a Protestant as King of England (much like the Tea Party is dismayed at having a Democrat as President, and a black one to boot). Their protests eventually moved beyond the verbal assaults (“Hi de hay, hi de ho, King James the First has got to go”) down the slippery slope to gunpowder, treason and plot.
Guy Fawkes was born in England in 1570 but as a young man went off to Europe to fight in the Eighty Years’ War (not the entire war, of course) on the side of Catholic Spain. He hoped that in return Spain would back his Occupy the Throne movement in England. Spain wasn’t interested.
Guy (also known by that venerable old British name Guido) returned to England and fell in with some fellow travelers. Realizing that the Occupy the Throne movement required removing the person who was currently sitting in it, the group plotted to assassinate him. They rented a spacious undercroft beneath Westminster Palace (eat your hearts out, Occupy Wall Streeters sleeping in the park) where they amassed a good supply of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was left in charge of the gunpowder.
Unfortunately, someone snitched on them and Fawkes was captured on November 5. Subjected to waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation methods, Fawkes told all and was condemned to death. (Evidently, James I was not amused.) Just before his scheduled execution, Fawkes jumped from the scaffold, breaking his neck and cheating the English out of a good hanging.
Since then the English have celebrated the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 with the November 5 celebration, an integral part of which is burning Guy Fawkes (and sometimes others) in effigy. Seems like a long time to hold a grudge. But who knows. Maybe in the United States in 2411, the top 1% will still be burning the Occupy Wall Streeters in effigy.