June 08, 2017

#05-052: Guy Fawkes Night - Part II

etching of a man in a feathered hat and a cloak sitting with legs crossed, chin in hand, pondering
Guy Fawkes

Note: The celebration is named after Guy Fawkes for his role in the "Gunpowder Plot" to blow up the English king. He was caught, and it failed.

Get Ready: Do you know anything about the role of the modern group "Anonymous"? Why do you think they use a mask of Guy Fawkes as their symbol?

In Lesson #05-051, we began discussing the origins of Guy Fawkes Night, which lie in the turmoil surrounding the heirs to Henry VIII of England, and the conflict between Catholics and Protestants.

In that lesson, we showed how Henry had gone through a series of wives who were unable to give him a strong male heir, and how his sickly son Edward was succeeded after his death at age 15 by his half-sister, the Catholic Mary I, called "Bloody Mary" for her persecution of Protestants.

When Mary died (of illness), her half-sister Elizabeth became queen, and had a long, magnificent reign of 44 years. At Elizabeth I's death, no more direct heirs were on hand, and her distant cousin James the Sixth of Scotland--a great-great-grandson of Elizabeth's grandfather Henry the Seventh--came down from the north and became James I of England.

Now, remember all those Catholics who prospered under Mary? They were still around, and seeking a chance to seize the crown. So in 1605, they plotted to blow up the House of Lords, a government building--with the King in it. They would then place their own Catholic monarch on the throne. This was called "The Gunpowder Plot."

Unluckily for them, the plot was foiled when, around midnight on November 4, one of the plotters, Guy Fawkes, was discovered guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder. He was arrested and with seven of his co-conspirators was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

The next night, there was a huge celebration, with--appropriately--fireworks and bonfires. For a time it was an excuse for anti-Catholic sentiment, but today November 5 is mainly just a big party, called Guy Fawkes Night, with many similarities to the celebrations of Halloween in America five days earlier.

Fawkes himself lives on in two cultural features. The lesser-known is Fawkes, the phoenix kept by Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter books and films. A phoenix, you may remember, is a creature born of fire.

The better-known is a mask of a thin-faced man with a mustache and beard, and rosy-red cheeks. It is used as a symbol by various activist groups, and is in fact a stylized version of Fawkes's face. It is called a "Guy Fawkes mask."


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. bonfires
  2. co-conspirators
  3. foiled
  4. half-sister
  5. hanged, drawn and quartered
  6. heir
  7. seize
  8. sentiment
  9. stylized
  10. turmoil

  1. people who plan an illegal act together
  2. feeling; emotion
  3. stopped a plan
  4. one who will receive wealth or power from another
  5. large fires built outside
  6. grab; take hold of
  7. one who has only one parent in common
  8. designed as a representation
  9. dragged by a horse, hanged, and cut into four parts
  10. disturbance; disquiet

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for June 8, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. e; 2. a; 3. c; 4. g; 5. i; 6. d; 7. f; 8. b; 9. h; 10. j