On the night of November 5, 1605, there was a conspiracy (the gunpowder plot) by English Catholics to kill King James I and replace him with his Catholic daughter, Princess Elizabeth. It was cut short by the arrest of Guy Fawkes (or Guido Fawkes), who had been charged with placing gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament. The authorities were tipped off by an anonymous letter. After days of torture Fawkes’ broke and revealed the plot. It involved digging a tunnel under the Palace of Westminster, filling it with gunpowder and then triggering a deadly explosion during the ceremonial opening of Parliament, which would have resulted in the death of not only James I, but also the leading Protestant nobility. Immediately before his execution on January 31, 1606, Fawkes jumped from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck. From then on, November 5 was celebrated in Britain and its colonies with a bonfire burning either Guy Fawkes or the pope in effigy. Washington put the kibosh on its celebration in America on November 5, 1775.
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