As soon as the noose settled around his neck, Guy Fawkes broke free from the hangman and jumped off the scaffolding — guaranteeing a quick drop with a stop sharp enough to break his neck cleanly…
It seems like an odd result for a man to be in such a hurry to get to, at least until you consider the alternative. In a way, it’s an early example of government not being able to get anything right. Not even a hanging…
You see, Guy had just watched his fellow English-Catholic conspirators hanged until nearly dead. Then they were cut down. Their most private parts and entrails were removed and burned before their eyes. Then they were beheaded.
This all happened to Guy Fawkes, too…except wily Guy made sure he was too dead to notice. So what offense warranted this extreme torture and dismemberment?
Guy and his co-conspirators felt that the crown made life miserable for the Catholic minority in England. In truth, the crown was doing exactly that.
So on the 5th of November, they planned to ignite the dozens of barrels of gunpowder they’d packed under Parliament. Their plan was to blow up the king.
The conspiracy was uncovered and thwarted. Torture, confessions and painful executions followed. This was the end of the now-famous Gunpowder Plot.
For centuries afterward, Londoners have organized a curious bonfire on the Nov. 5th anniversary of Guy’s bust. They even gave it a catchy phrase…
“Remember, remember the fifth of November,” they chant.
We say “curious,” because it seemed that half the chanters hated Guy… while the other celebrated his rebellious spirit.