Remember, Remember: A Cultural History of Guy Fawkes Day
In the early hours of November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes, an English Catholic who had served with the Spanish army in Flanders, was discovered in a storeroom under the Palace of Westminster--and with him, thirty-six barrels of gunpowder earmarked to obliterate England's royal family, top officials, and members of Parliament gathered for Parliament's opening day. Had it succeeded, this Gunpowder Plot--a Catholic conspiracy against the recently crowned Protestant King James I and his government--English history would have been shaped by a terrorist act of unprecedented proportions.
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.
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Remember, remember: a cultural history of Guy Fawkes DayUser Review - Book Verdict
The potent symbiosis-and ultimate disentangling-of religion and politics in the modern era is explored in this study of a very British holiday. Historian Sharpe gives a sprightly recap of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, a narrowly foiled conspiracy by English Catholics to blow up Parliament and the King, and its subsequent November 5th commemoration through the centuries. The original Gunpowder Treason Day, he notes, was a festival of militant Protestantism, celebrated with bonfires, processions and the reading of anti-Papist screeds from pulpits across the kingdom. As anti-Catholic vitriol waned with the Enlightenment, burning effigies of the Pope gave way to effigies of leading conspirator Guy Fawkes, who became a romantic icon and a radical champion of the downtrodden poor. In Victorian times, November 5th added the sobriquet of Bonfire Night, giving incendiary vent to an unfocused working-class anti-authoritarianism which met with crackdowns by urban police forces. In recent days, Sharpe laments, the holiday has been preempted and eclipsed by the imported juggernaut of American-style Halloween, a celebration of an entirely depoliticized ur-religion of spirits and spells that is the virtual antithesis of Guy Fawkes Day. Sharpe analyzes the role of Guy Fawkes Day in defining an emerging British Protestant nationalism against the "Evil Empire" of Catholicism and, somewhat weakly, draws parallels with the West's contemporary ideological battle against radical Islam. Although one gets the feeling that the first Guy Fawkes Day was the most exciting, Sharpe's erudite but light-handed account makes for an intriguing cultural history. Photos.
Review: Remember, Remember: A Cultural History of Guy Fawkes Day (Profiles in History)User Review - Mark - Goodreads
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 represents what is perhaps the greatest failed terrorist plot in history, an attempt by a group of disaffected Catholics to blow up James I and the assembled political ... Read full review
The Evil Empire and the Enemy Within
Remembering Through the Seventeenth Century
Changing Times and the Reinvention of Guy Fawkes
The Triumph and Taming of Bonfire Night
List of Illustrations