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Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and a burning match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!

My thoughts on the day, from a 2001 NRO column, are here. Actually, my NRO article is less about the Guy Fawkes case itself than about A Treatise of Equivocation and juror nullification.

Some background on English Catholics' legitimate resistance to government efforts to stamp out their religion are in this article, on Nicholas Owen, the great builder of hiding places for priests.

To state the obvious, the Gunpowder Plot was counterproductive to efforts to protect the religious freedom of English Catholics.

atr (mail):
November 5th is now also a big day for Ron Paul:

http://ronpaul2008.com
http://thisnovember5th.com

So far, he's raised over $3 million online today, and there are still four hours to go (on the East coast).
11.5.2007 8:05pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
Maybe he can start making better ads.
11.5.2007 8:24pm
PaulK (mail):
I had almost forgotten that it was Stuart Restoration Day! Thanks for the reminder.
11.5.2007 9:33pm
Goobermunch:
Remember, remember, the Fifth of November/
The gunpowder treason and plot/
I know no reason why gunpowder treason/
Should ever be forgot.

--G
11.5.2007 10:01pm
The Cabbage:
I can think of a legislative body I'd like to see blown up...

Can we get a conspirator to post on "V for Vendetta"? That movie has a prominent ranking on the "Movies I thought were going to suck but turned out to be pretty good" list.
11.5.2007 10:20pm
finec:

To state the obvious, the Gunpowder Plot was counterproductive to efforts to protect the religious freedom of English Catholics.


Certainly there are many things wrong with blowing up Parliament. But I sense in the above quote an accusation that the GP was foolhardy (as opposed to simply immoral), even acknowledging the motives of the conspirators. While the point is clearly academic, I have two questions:

1. The plot was very nearly successful. What would have happened to English Catholics, had it been successful? Better/worse outcome? One might guess that it would have led to a successful change of control and a quite different situation for English Catholics.

2. Did the Gunpowder Plot extend persecution of English Catholics beyond the level that already existed at the time?
11.5.2007 10:24pm
Wahoowa:
The Cabbage:

That's funny--V for Vendetta has a prominent spot on my "movies I thought were going to be pretty good but turned out to suck" list.
11.5.2007 10:34pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Finec -

In my opionion - not based on any great knowledge of the situation at the time - the answers to your quastions would be:

1) Had the plot succeeded, there are three considerations:

a) A newly elected parliament might have been a bit more respectful of the Catholic minority. On the other hand...

b) The people might not have taken kindly to the destruction of Parliament and the deaths of their legislators and might have supported more wholeheartedly continued or increased persecution of Catholics.

c) At that time, the crown still had a fair amount of political power and influence and would likely have continued or increased the persecution.

2) I should think that the GP did extend - or increase the vigor of the persecution, but I don't know the details of this.
11.5.2007 10:38pm
finec:
Brooks --

I also don't have much knowledge of the history (and in fact am Wikipedia'ing this as I write) but openings of Parliament are typically attended by royalty (as in this case). I think we can safely assume that the king would have been dead. In addition, there were plans afoot to "incite a revolt in the Midlands." Whether or not this was successful (likely not), there might have been a substantial disruption of the state apparatus.

I would also caution against transplanting our modern views to a different era. Bloody contests for control were not abnormal, and my sense (am I wrong?) is that common people were pretty much just along for the ride.

That said...

A troubling current trend is to see GF in a heroic light, as a fighter against tyranny (see, e.g., V for V). I'm worried about this -- not because the methods GF used closely parallel what we would call terrorism today, but rather because of what he was fighting for. Religious tolerance was a pretty alien concept at the time. It seems probable that GF was aiming for a pure Catholic restoration, likely replacing tyranny of one kind with tyranny of another. In other words, we're probably not talking about the enlightened hero of V for Vendetta.
11.5.2007 11:06pm
Hoosier:
Yep. It made things worse for Catholics. And especially upper-class Catholics, who were increasingly tolerated. The head of the Jesuits in England tried to talk the plotters out of it for this reason. Despite the fact that his knowledge of the plot had been gained under the "seal of the confessional," he was drawn and quartered for his failure to inform the authorities.

And thus we come to the current situation: there has been no rightful monarch on the British throne since James II. Not a good reason to blow them up, though.
11.5.2007 11:09pm
one of many:
402 years later and they still hang poor Guy Fawkes in effigy every year. And the English think capital pnishment is barbaric?
11.5.2007 11:09pm
Visitor Again:
Mention of Guy Fawkes brings to mind one of the best memories of my childhood in northern England in the 1940s and 1950s, the communal celebration of the foiling of the plot to blow up Parliament. Weeks before Guy Fawkes Day, the children of the neighbood began scouring the countryside for wood for a bonfire built in a field behind the council houses in which we lived. Eventually the pile would reach more than 30 feet high. Shortly after dark, which came quite early that far north, the entire population of the council houses would gather around the bonfire, on top of which was placed an effigy of Guy Fawkes. The bonfire burned for hours, until long after everyone had gone to bed. Every family brought their own fireworks to set off around the bonfire so that all could enjoy them. We also brought potatoes in tin foil and roasted them in the fire; they were delicious. We made our own entertainments in those days before television and video games. I wonder if today's youngsters still put in that kind of effort for bonfire night.
11.6.2007 12:24am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Enjoyed the equivocation essay. I'm guessing you know Paul Grant. I'm someone who learned honesty as an adult. First I learned not to lie, and then sometime later I learned not to play the Jesuitical "technically true but misleading" game.
Wild speculation: Guy tried to kill James I. This might have helped inspire those who later killed Charles I. That era, with Charles II being replaced by William and Mary, led to the English Bill of Rights, which later led to the US bill of rights. Without Guy, we'd have less to talk about here.
11.6.2007 12:56am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
What about the Jesuit law schools? Must have been even more trouble ...
11.6.2007 2:35am
Armen (mail) (www):
aard: if I recall my high school Euro history, didn't it go James I, Charles I, bloodshed, Charles II, James II, William &Mary?
11.6.2007 3:31am
JoshL (mail):

aard: if I recall my high school Euro history, didn't it go James I, Charles I, bloodshed, Charles II, James II, William &Mary?


That's correct, followed by Anne. After her the Stewarts disappear and you end up with a cousin from Hanover titled George I who barely spoke English.
11.6.2007 7:15am
Arkady:


And thus we come to the current situation: there has been no rightful monarch on the British throne since James II.



Quel dommage!
11.6.2007 7:47am
Joshua:
Wahoowa and The Cabbage: I'd recommend the original V for Vendetta graphic novel over the film, assuming you've not already read it. The graphic novel storyline is a bit dated, but that's actually a good thing, because it makes the premise of a Christian theocracy in England a bit more believable (if only because the believability of that premise as presented in the movie is absolute zero). The graphic novel also doesn't feature other rank absurdities seen in the film, such as a gay non-Muslim whose prized possession is an old Qur'an.
11.6.2007 8:35am
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
Cabbage: [V for Vendetta] has a prominent ranking on the "Movies I thought were going to suck but turned out to be pretty good" list.
Wahoowa: That's funny--V for Vendetta has a prominent spot on my "movies I thought were going to be pretty good but turned out to suck" list.

In my case, it was "movies I had low expectations of going in and was right." I think the book is magnificent, and while the movie didn't do justice to the book by a long shot, I found myself enjoying it a little. I found the plot changes irritating, and it bugged me that the message shifted slightly, but what they did was nicely executed. Those of you who haven't read the book, it's much better, check it out.
11.6.2007 8:37am
Tracy Johnson (www):
Don't forget to Google "C for Cookie".
11.6.2007 9:42am
Dan Hamilton:
Best line from "V"

"The People should not fear their Government. The Government should fear the People."

Also the MSM made out that V was a terrorist. He wasn't. He wanted to blow up Parliament not Harrods. Attacking the Government is not terrorist.
11.6.2007 12:13pm
Arkady:

Attacking the Government is not terrorist.


Oklahoma City.
11.6.2007 1:20pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Yes, there are "Cookies" and then there are Cookies"

What's THIS, another one of those ferret-out the bad guys thread? Where's whit and c.gray and SenatorX (my favorite), when you need them?

Why is everyone focusing on Guy Fawkes and his A-B-C-D thinking defects that led him to foolishly mount an attack on the King and Parliament? What a loser!

Why would anyone try to bite the King, rather than merely desire to be the King's trusted Knight? As stated, Guy Fawkes...LOSER! Obviously he could not persuade a flea, that's why he resorted to McVeighing-out.

And isn't it a farce to compare the King-biting treasoness terrorists like Kopel posits to other "brave individuals who risk everything" but who don't cross the line of resorting to such foolish tactics? Owens may have become "perhaps the greatest builder of hiding places in man’s history," as stated by Kopel, but he built his house of cards toward very wrong objectives.

On another note, the English-Catholic controvery raised by this thread reminded me of my very favorite parish priest of all time, Fr. James (named no doubt in an inronic way after King James), a shoulder-length red-headed Irish Catholic priest with the Irish brogue who could tell a joke -- and there are none better!

He could have made King James, himself, break out into peels of laughter.
11.6.2007 2:53pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"inronic" = ironic
11.6.2007 2:55pm
Hoosier:
Guy Fawkes a "LOSER"?

Perhaps. But he got a mention from TS Elliot. Which is better than I'll ever do, what with Elliot being so dead and all.

Arkady: Mais naturellement. Et disparaît ainsi la gloire du monde.
11.6.2007 3:33pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Hoosier, you always make me laugh.
11.6.2007 3:44pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Hooz: Have you been to any courthouses lately? i had quite an incident the other day, I was trying to hide my copy of A Treatise of Equivocation as I was entering the courthouse, but it set off security, was confiscated, and sent to the Bar admittance committee. No sooner, dideth Letters of Inquisition and Specification issue, but now I am currently awaiting (wait, let me check the Order...),

it says here, "Drawing and Quartering," set for 10 Am in Tower A.
11.6.2007 3:56pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Attacking the Government is not terrorist.

So only two out of the three successful attacks on 9/11 were terrorist?
11.6.2007 5:10pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
JF, how so?

I'm autistic, maybe I don't get it. Please explain the sick joke.
11.6.2007 5:44pm
Hoosier:
He means the attack on the Pentagon didn't count, if one accepts the argument that he cites. Which--I assume J F is saying--shows the absurdity of the proposition.

And sorry to say, I'm never in the Court Houses. I'm not a lawyer. I just like to hang out with them. Which makes me, like, a JAG-hag or something.
11.6.2007 6:20pm
New Pseudonym (mail):
And thus we come to the current situation: there has been no rightful monarch on the British throne since James II.

Funny, I was in St Peter's Basilica in January and personally saw a tomb engraved Henricus IX, Rex Anglorum, Hiberniae, etc.
11.6.2007 6:36pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Hoosier ??

"And sorry to say, I'm never in the Court Houses. I'm not a lawyer. I just like to hang out with them. Which makes me, like, a JAG-hag or something."

I thought you told me you wuz a lawyer on the "Freedom Fighter" hated Americans thread.
11.6.2007 11:22pm
aizheng (mail):
11.7.2007 3:16am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Well, your posts are entertaining whatever you are, Hoosier. Don't be shy.

I can't believe the lawyers on this blog/thread are mum about their thoughts on A Treatise of Equivocation, and whether it is their belief a speaker must "answer directly" a government interrogator. I think they all have a copy of it in their back pockets, too, carry it to court with their Rules of Evidence Pocket Guide.

A Guild secret, no doubt. How do we know? No one wants to talk about it.
11.7.2007 12:18pm