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Thursday 5 November 2009

Remember, Remember..... History.

I'm sitting here listening to explosions & the general sounds of fireworks from outside my window.
Yes, it's the 5th of November once again. "Remember, remember the 5th of November. Gunpowder treason & plot". 1605 & all that.
For me, Bonfire Night has always had more relevance & interest than Halloween. But, at least both days do make you forget about the imminent onset of Winter. Well, for a few days at least.

I love the traditional side of the celebrations & the way that it all reminds me of my childhood. I also like the fact that we do still remember & celebrate these things. For me that's important.

I'm very lucky that in my own local area, we still have a number of bonfire societies who keep the flame of history & tradition burning.
In Lewes, the county town of East Sussex, they have been holding bonfire night celebrations for the past 400 years. These began after Parliament decreed that November 5th be used to commemorate the orignal Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Which involved Guy (Guido) Fawkes & his co-conspirators. There was a brief break when Oliver Cromwell banned the celebrations. But, they started again during the reign of King Charles 2nd & have continued in some form, or another ever since.

It's also usually around this time of year that we hear the familiar question "Guy Fawkes, where are you now that your country needs you?"

As i've mentioned in vlogs on my YouTube channel before. We have our own bonfire celebrations here in Hastings. Which, although tied up with the November 5th celebrations, actually take place in mid October.

What all these celebrations show me is the sheer amount of history that we have to commemorate & remember in this country.
I've always been a lover of history & when you live somewhere like this, i guess that's hardly a surprise. And the more i learn, the more i realise that the 1500 & 1600's were probably the most interesting period in that history.
That period starting with the reign of Henry 8th, through the time of Elizabeth 1st, The Gunpowder Plot, Charles 1st, the English Civil War & right up to the Plague, Samuel Pepys & the Great Fire Of London, were fascinating.

Just reading through that list of events that happened in those two centuries, makes you realise just how important & influential they were, to British history anyway & possibly beyond. And the events of those centuries still influence us now & not just because of a few fireworks either.

Over the past week, or so, i've either read articles, seen on the news, or had discussions with others on current issues, which have their origins back in those centuries.

The most obviously influential event of all was probably The Reformation, during the reign of Henry 8th.
Now, i'm not a religious person & do not pretent to understand all the details of Henry's decision to start his own Church Of England & break from Rome. But, it cannot be denied that this is one of the biggest historical events of the past 500 years.
So many of the historical events in my earlier list happened as a result (directly, or indirectly) of Henry's decision. Even the colonisation of North America was partly as a result of this. That was something i had not thought of, or considered until the other day.

I'm sure we can all of think of other possible examples too. And far more recent examples too.

We all know that events in the present can have a very big effect & influence on the future. Maybe that's something we all need to consider when any big decisions are made these days? After all, i don't expect Henry 8th had any idea how that one decision of his would change the history of Britain & ultimately, the World.

And all for the love of a woman too.....

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