During the cooling latter days of the year, a pesky plan was afoot to cause a right royal commotion.
A servant by the name of John Johnson was using his utmost stealth and skill to smuggle and store gunpowder into a cellar, in readiness to blow up both the King of England and Parliament.
He wasn’t working alone, was John. No, he had accomplices and co-conspirators. And he would have probably gotten away with it as well, if he hadn’t been caught the day before.
It was November 1605. John, by the way, was an alter ego of Guido Fawkes, who in turn had been born Guy Fawkes.
John, or Guido, or Guy – and his cohorts – came up with a plan to blow up the House of Lords and King James I on the Opening of Parliament on November 5th, kidnap James’ daughter, Elizabeth, and place her on the throne as a Catholic Queen. They didn’t want a Protestant Monarch, as James was, and set about to make history.
However, on November 4th a search of the cellar beneath the House of Lords led to Guy being discovered, arrested, and the plot failing.
Because of this, King James (and his people) allowed the public to celebrate his survival every year on November 5th with ‘safe’ bonfires.
These celebrations continue to this day, with many people incorrectly thinking the bonfires are held to celebrate the plot rather than the survival, but events can tend to get warped over time.
Elizabeth did eventually become Queen, but not Queen of England. Her husband, Frederick (whom she married on St Valentine’s Day in 1613), became King of Bohemia on November 4th 1619, and she was crowned Queen of Bohemia a few days later. Their reign, however, was brief, and lasted for just one winter. Elizabeth subsequently became known as the Winter Queen.
Decades later, Elizabeth’s grandson George (her daughter Sophia’s son) became King George I of Great Britain and Ireland in 1714. And her great great great great great great great great (give or take a great) granddaughter is our present Queen, Queen Elizabeth II.
Just think how different things would have been if John Johnson had managed to put Elizabeth II on the thrown in the early Seventeenth Century, after succeeding with his Gunpowder Plot.