Thursday, September 22, 2016

Remember, Remember the 6th of November?

Guest post by Tony Morgan.

On November 5th 1605 a major terrorist atrocity was prevented in England. If this had not happened the King would have been killed, Parliament and his government destroyed and the modern world would be a very different place.

Fascinated by the parallels between the England of 1605 and today – concerns over Europe, terrorism and government surveillance – I have written an exciting new alternate history based novel, REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE 6TH OF NOVEMBER, which explores the events of the so-called Gunpowder Plot and asks two questions – what if things had turned out differently and do we ever learn from the mistakes of history?

November 5th is a hugely important date in the calendar of the United Kingdom. Each year, the evening is filled with smoke from our bonfires and fireworks light up our skies. We call it Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes night but what is it all about?

These events mark an annual celebration, not for what Guy Fawkes did but for what he was prevented from doing. On the eve of the Opening of Parliament, Fawkes was found hiding beneath the building, watching over an arsenal of gunpowder. The plan was to detonate this in the morning and destroy the building with the King, his sons and government inside.

Fawkes and his fellow plotters, led by the charismatic Robert Catesby, were Catholics, outraged at Protestant King James I’s policies of persecution of their religion, particularly as they believed he’d promised a more tolerant approach. Following Fawkes’s arrest, he was tortured and the other conspirators rounded up. Many were killed during the ensuing pursuit and in a bloody gun battle. The survivors, including Fawkes, were placed on trial for treason and eventually hung, drawn and quartered, a particularly brutal form of execution, in London.

But what if they had been successful? Would our world have been different? The answer is a categorical yes, and in many ways. In our reality, King James lived on for another 20 years. He was eventually succeeded by his son, Charles, who led the country into a divisive and bloody civil war, which eventually led to his own execution. If James and Charles had been murdered as intended by the plotters, could the English civil war have been avoided?

King James oversaw early English expansion into North America, as part of an embryonic British Empire. He actively encouraged the Protestant “plantation” of Ireland, sowing the seeds for centuries of sectarian hatred and violence. If he’d died in 1605, both activities may have turned out very differently. What would have been the impact on the history of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, the US and so many other countries?

Of course, we can’t know for sure. The future would have depended on what happened next, immediately after the explosion of Parliament. Who would have taken control of England? Would the country have been able to remain strong and independent or would it have been invaded and subsequently controlled by Spain or France? All these factors would have been critical determinants for our own present day way of life.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the real events of November 1605 and exploring one view of how things may have ended differently, read REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE 6TH OF NOVEMBER and support two very good causes, as all profits made in 2016 are being donated to charity – and please let us know what you think.

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Tony Morgan is 51, a Welshman living in Yorkshire in England in the UK. He has taken a gap year from work at the age of 50 to explore a range of interests, including writing two alternate history based novels. He returns to his day job in IBM on 7th November 2016.

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