If you're not familiar with the events of November 5th, 1605- here is my beautifully written explanation (translation: the paragraph I lovingly ctrl c'd/ctrl v'd from Wiki)
Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure.
In celebration of Guido and The Gunpowder Plot, I figured I'd put together a list of great books to help you read up on the topic. Maybe you'll be a Guy Fawkes expert by November 5, 2016!
In England, November 5 is Guy Fawkes Day, when fireworks displays commemorate the shocking moment in 1605 when government authorities uncovered a secret plan to blow up the House of Parliament--and King James I along with it. A group of English Catholics, seeking to unseat the king and reintroduce Catholicism as the state religion, daringly placed thirty-six barrels of gunpowder in a cellar under the Palace of Westminster. Their aim was to ignite the gunpowder at the opening of the Parliamentary session. Though the charismatic Catholic, Robert Catesby, was the group's leader, it was the devout Guy Fawkes who emerged as its most famous member, as he was the one who was captured and who revealed under torture the names of his fellow plotters. In the aftermath of their arrests, conditions grew worse for English Catholics, as legal penalties against them were stiffened and public sentiment became rabidly intolerant.
In a narrative that reads like a gripping detective story, Antonia Fraser has untangled the web of religion, politics, and personalities that surrounded that fateful night of November 5. And, in examining the lengths to which individuals will go for their faith, she finds in this long-ago event a reflection of the religion-inspired terrorism that has produced gunpowder plots of our own time.
Today Guy Fawkes--whose name has long stood for the conspiracy--is among the most notorious figures in English history; and Bonfire Night, observed every November 5th to memorialize the narrowly foiled Gunpowder Plot, is one of the country's most festive occasions. Why has the memory of this act of treason and terrorism persisted for 400 years? In Remember, Remember James Sharpe takes us back to 1605 and teases apart the tangled web of religion and politics that gave rise to the plot. And, with considerable wit, he shows how celebration of that fateful night, and the representation of Guy Fawkes, has changed over the centuries.
James Sharpe's colorfully told story has wide implications. The plot of 1605 has powerful resonances today, in a time of heightened concern about ideological conflict, religious fanaticism, and terrorism. And his account of the festivities marking the momentous event comments on the role of rituals in constructing national histories.
The 1605 Catholic plot to blow up King and Parliament is one of the great real-life dramas in British history - and the unfortunate Guy Fawkes was just one member of its huge cast. Set against a backdrop of nationalist tension and medieval paranoia, the tentacles of conspiracy encompassed noblemen and priests, women and lawyers, servants and spies. The action swings from the heart of London to the rural Midlands, but in such a climate of ambiguity and intrigue, the borders between plotter and politician became less and less clearly defined.
Gunpowder tells the story of the events of Oct 1605 to May 1606 through its key players and the original documentary evidence in which they appear. Illustrated with contemporary portraits, engravings and original, unpublished documents, this perilous and fragmented world challenges our perception of the past.
Antonia Fraser, a popular historian, has delved into archives across Europe to unravel the true story of the plot by fanatical Roman Catholics to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I at the opening of Parliament in 1605.