Tonight marks Guy Fawkes Night, the commemoration of the failed Gunpowder Plot. In 1605, Fawkes and his fellow conspirators intended to assassinate King James in the House of Lords. They also sought to kidnap Princess Elizabeth and, following her father’s death, place her on the throne as a Catholic Queen. The plot was thwarted when Fawkes was caught guarding the gunpowder explosives underneath the Palace of Westminster.
A holiday developed around the conspirators’ failure, with people lighting bonfires and fireworks to celebrate. Fawkes himself is often burned in effigy, and he was often a popular topic for caricaturists.
(images from Horace Mayhew and Percy Cruikshank’s Guy Faux: A Squib (N7436.53 .N29 G89 1849))