After Queen Elizabeth the First died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James the First, would be more tolerant of their religion.
James had, after all, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth and a number of young men, 13 to be exact, decided that violent action was the answer.
A small group took shape, under the leadership of Robert Catesby. Catesby felt that the thing to do was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the king, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the members of parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. Today these conspirators would be known as extremists, or terrorists.
To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder and stored them in a cellar, beneath the House of Lords.
But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack, including some people who fought for more rights for Catholics. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts.
One of the group members sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the parliament on November 5.
The warning letter reached the king, and the king’s forces made plans to stop the conspirators.
Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5, was caught, tortured and executed.
On the very night that the plot was foiled, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the king. Since then, November 5 has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.
Use of fireworks
In some areas, no firework may be set off at any time without the written permission of the local authority. In other areas, it is permitted to set off fireworks on specified dates between certain times on domestic properties.
Check local by-laws and make sure the by-laws you examine or are referred to, are the most up-to-date ones.
Read more about regulations pertaining to fireworks in Ekurhuleni here.