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York Professor exposes true bonfire night history of violence, mob-rule and anarchy

400 YEARS AFTER Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament, a York Professor has torn the legend of the day we celebrate it apart, exposing its sordid history of anti-Catholicism, rioting and vigilante mob rule.

400 YEARS AFTER Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament, a York Professor has torn the legend of the day we celebrate it apart, exposing its sordid history of anti-Catholicism, rioting and vigilante mob rule.

James Sharpe, Professor of History at York, has explored the uncharted territory of the 400 years since Guy Fawkes infamously attempted to blow up Parliament, writing the history of England from the perspective of November 5th.

He has shown that it has morphed from an outburst of parliamentary relief to an occasion of pope-burning expressing extreme anti-catholic sentiments, to one which helped to fuel the American War of Independence in which politicians and tax collectors were burnt in effigy.

By the nineteenth century the day we now celebrate with toffee apples, signalled a time when the police would lock themselves up in the station, and troops were bought in to bring violent mobs under control.

It is only in to the twentieth century that the day had become a sedate time for fireworks and bonfires, and it is a day whose history is still being written in the era of terror and political regulation.

Prof Sharpe said: "I think the fifth is changing and being gradually diluted, but its not gone. I don't think Guy Fawkes iconic status will be challenged for a long time, but its later history is relatively uncharted and we've only scratched the surface."

Prof Sharpe's book is out now at all major book retailers, entitled: Remember Remember the Fifth of November.

(Simon Davis)

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