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What was the Gunpowder Plot?

King James I of EnglandThe Gunpowder Plot was a plan to blow up James I, the first Stuart king of England, on 5th November 1605. English Catholics had been persecuted during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, a Protestant. When James came to the throne in 1603, the Catholics expected the new king to be more tolerant of them. Instead, he had all Catholic priests banished from the country. Thus it was that a group of Catholics decided to plot against the king. One of their number was a man named Guy Fawkes.

 



Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes

Guy became Catholic during his teenage years, even though it was a crime to be a Catholic during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign (1558–1603). In 1592, he joined the army of Catholic Spain. In 1603, Guy (now known by the Italian version of his name “Guido”) even tried to persuade the king of Spain, Philip III, to wage war against England and its Protestant king, James I. Philip turned down his request.

Traditionally, in the days leading up to 5th November children made "guys”—masked, life-sized dummies of Guy Fawkes made from old clothes stuffed with newspaper. In the 19th century, the word “guy” came to mean any oddly dressed person. In the 20th century, its meaning changed to mean any male person. Nowadays, "guys" can mean a group of people, both male and female.

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