The Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot"
History has traditionally never been my strongest suite, so credit for the details here need to be given to The British Library, specifically this <Timeline page for 1605>
The major points are that in 1605, a group of Catholic conspirators, including the now infamous Guy Fawkes, devised a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Their aim was to overthrow the government, kill King James I, and make James’s daughter a Catholic head of state.
The Catholics had, in truth, had a pretty rough time during the reign of Elizabeth I, and things had not improved during James' time.
Guido (Guy) Fawkes had a background in munitions and was chosen to light the fuse to 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars beneath the Parliament building. Weirdly, by today's security standards, the conspirators were able to rent these cellars.
The date for the Big Bang was set as November 5th, but a search was done and the group caught, tried, tortured and executed as was the way back then
The English still celebrate every year and the damned bangs from fireworks can be heard regularly between Halloween in October and the following New Year's Day.
Lewes in Sussex is the home to one of the more over the top annual Guy Fawkes Night celebrations. Villages around the town all make effigies of out-of-favour politicians (Putin, George Bush, David Cameron and ex-Scottish Nationalist Leader Alex Salmond have all featured), the Pope and the man himself Guy Fawkes. All of these end up on the fires.
Some folks are offended by the burning of an effigy of the Catholic Guy Fawkes. The inclusion of the Pope is, I guess, a logical extension indicative of the Catholic conspiracy.
To be blunt, they shouldn't. After all, to paraphrase Basil in Fawlty Towers, "they started it."
The Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England's overthrow.
But, by God's providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
I'll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!