I wake up. It’s a new day. So is today radically a different day from the last? There are days when the world changed. When that guy assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand that change the world (Sad but I bet you most people under 30 will think of that band from Scotland before WWI today). Hitler deciding to ignore the rhetoric of England and invading Poland that changed the world. Dropping the bombs on Japan that changed the world. Henry Ford thinking up mass production, Fleming with penicillin, Berners-Lee just letting the world wide web be available for all for free…
Will Barack being the first African American elected president be one of those moments? Who knows, history will judge won’t it. There’s some weird connectedness sort of going on here though isn’t there? Well there is in my mind…
So today is 5th Nov – Bonfire night, Guy Fawkes night or whatever you call it. Tonight throughout Britain people will let off fireworks, build bonfires and burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes in celebration of the failed plot in 1605 to blow up King James I (of England – James VI of Scotland) by a group of catholic rebels who wished to restore a catholic monarch to the throne of England/Scotland and turn back a series of events that start with Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries etc. which started in 1534; so about 70 years before.
If you then wind forward the issues between state and the various factions of religion around Anglican, Catholic and puritans in particular continued to fester into Charles I reign and when he tried to unite the church throughout Britain under a new “High Anglican” ideal with a new Book of Common Prayer that led to the Scottish Rebellion and eventually the three English Civil Wars, Charles being beheaded and Britain being a republic between 1649 – 1653.
However lets just rewind a bit from there back to 1620 i.e. after the failed Gunpowder Plot but before the English Civil War. That year a group of brave pilgrims left Southampton in a ship called the Mayflower and sailed to what is now Plymouth Massachusetts. I know there were other migrations but the Plymouth group was a very significant one in the colonisation of America. Interesting that they left England to travel to the New World due to the religious persecution they were suffering.
Let us suppose that the Gunpowder plot had succeeded and now today England was a Catholic state not Anglican. Let us also suppose that the new monarch in 1605 had moved swiftly to squash all religious persecution in the early 17th Century. Would the pilgrims have risk all for that journey in that scenario? I wonder who would have been being elected to rule exactly what today?
So as I say let history judge what is a significant day or not… It all interconnects eventually in someway.