5. Nov, 2013

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

On this day in November 1605, Guy Fawkes was caught red-handed in the cellars of the Place of Westminster, complete with barrels of gunpowder, complicit in a plot to blow up King James I, his ministers and members of both Houses of Parliament.


Fawkes was part of a Catholic conspiracy to rid England of its protestant king. It heralded a century of internecine religious strife that only effectively ceased with the Act of Settlement in 1701.   


Sadly, parts of the world continue to be riven by sectarianism.


This morning’s news told the story of several murderous suicide bombings in northern Iraq that killed eleven people. To date this year that sad country has had to deal with more than 5,400 killed in political and religious violence.


Man’s capacity for sustained violence is as horrifying as it is seemingly boundless. Regrettably, sustained peace in the world is as unimaginable as it is seemingly unachievable.


Guy Fawkes, that very English metaphor for political violence, was tortured and hanged in January 1606. The great tragedy being that his ideological extremism didn’t die with him. Indeed, his visage lives on in the form of Anonymous – the shadowy group of international cyber-terrorists.


Happy Guy Fawkes Day.    


NOTE: Mordechai is going to Wales tomorrow for a couple of weeks. He hopes to be gathered up by the swirling mountain mists to join his Celtic heroes and the Druids of yore. But he rather suspects he’ll just freeze his bollocks off.