BMEWS
 
Sarah Palin's image already appears on the newer nickels.

calendar   Saturday - November 08, 2014

What The Fawkes?

In which a Yank shows off his dangerously thin understanding of English History, and asks a seemingly obvious, yet perhaps amazingly stupid question ...

image





Ok, so they’ve just had Guy Fawkes Day in England. Every November 5th, they have big bonfires and fireworks to recall the failure of The Gunpowder Plot, one of the first acts of terrorism.

In 1605, for reasons of religious intolerance, Guy Fawkes and his conspirators tried to take over the country by blowing up King James I and his Parliament. A huge amount of black powder was hidden below Parliament. 100 barrels - firkins and hogsheads - amounting to a couple tons worth of boom dust. But too many plotters spoil the plot, and somebody ratted them out. Caught at the very last second, Fawkes held up under torture for two days before giving away his fellow conspirators, all of whom had fled. But they were tracked down, and died in a big shootout. Something like that. Only Fawkes was tried, and for his traitorous act was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. He cheated the hangman, but not Death, by leaping off the gallows once the noose was on him, snapping his own neck and dying. But they chopped him into bits anyway.

Right. So the Crown has a big investigation afterwards, rather like our 9/11 Commission, and it turns out that, gosh whaddya know, the gunpowder never would have gone off, because “it was decayed”.

Decayed? Black powder is not a chemical compound. It’s just a mixture. Potassium Nitrate (aka Saltpeter), Charcoal, and Sulfur. All ground fine and mixed. But each ingredient has different specific gravity, so over time the powder will un-mix, with the heaviest part, the saltpeter, filtering out to the bottom.

PROBLEM. This un-mixing stuff had been known about since forever. The Plot was in 1605 - the early 17th century. Gunpowder had been in use since the middle 14th century, the 1300s. The separation problem had long been solved by the additional step in manufacturing called “corning”. The smallest spark or bit of static electricity can light off dry gunpowder, and mixing it around and around and around in a big vat could probably build up some static. Not safe. So the survivors - the smart powder makers - added a bit of water or some horse urine to the mix, which dampened things enough, and then mixed up a nice batter. Into loaves called mill cakes. Which were then squeezed through a sieve, just like a Play-Doh Factory, with nippers on the output end cutting the “spaghetti” into uniformly sized little bits, which were then laid out to dry. And the result gives you uniform grains, which all burn at the same rate. And once corned, the powder never un-mixes. And that was how gunpowder was made, made everywhere, always, since 100 years or more before Columbus set sail.

So how did Fawkes’ gunpowder decay? It couldn’t have. It was corned. And stored in firkins, of the barrel maker’s art. So it was dry too. Sure, a minor technical detail. But a detail that shows how the king and his MPs were never really in any danger to begin with. Furthermore, gunpowder manufacture was nearly a government monopoly, or under strict government control,from the very beginning.

Or was the “it was decayed” line a story, just like our FBI and how they immediately declare everything to be workplace violence, not terrorism, and certainly not affiliated with Al Qaeda in any way shape or form?


PS - I think we ought to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day here in the USA as well. Because if he had succeeded, there would have been a huge backlash against Catholics in England. A total pogrom. And in that pogrom, radical Protestant groups would be more tolerated, possibly even become mainstream. Edge groups, belligerent outcasts like the Puritans. Who, suddenly finding themselves accepted and popular, may have had no reason to run off to Holland and then to America. And while that would have kept several women safe from being burned as witches, any America that later formed would have been without our natural cussed attitude of “my faith is my business, screw you” we have ensconced in the First Amendment. Because those Pilgrims really were some intolerant bastiges. It was their way or the highway. Which is why colonial expansion in New England happened in the first place. Rhode Island, Connecticut, down east Long Island, etc. All settled because different flavors of the same faith couldn’t get along. 

See More Below The Fold

avatar

Posted by Drew458   United States  on 11/08/2014 at 06:45 PM   
Filed Under: • HistoryUK •  
Comments (5) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  
Page 1 of 1 pages

Five Most Recent Trackbacks:

The Brownshirts: Partie Deux; These aare the Muscle We've Been Waiting For
(2 total trackbacks)
Tracked at 香港特首曾荫权和部分高管分别用步行或搭乘公共交通工具的方式上班
西安电加热油温机 香港盛吹“环保风” 专家指市民已从被动变主动 中新网9月29日 淮安导热油电加热炉 电 据香港中通社报道,9月29日晚由香港某环保团体举行的“无冷气夜”,吸引了5万名市民及超过60间企业承诺参加。这是香港最近环保活动不断升温过程中的大型活动之一。 进入九月,香港各界环保活动渐入高潮,层出不穷。特首高官与各界市民齐齐参与,是其中一个最大特色。…
On: 03/21/18 04:12

meaningless marching orders for a thousand travellers ... strife ahead ..
(1 total trackbacks)
Tracked at Casual Blog
[...] RTS. IF ANYTHING ON THIS WEBSITE IS CONSTRUED AS BEING CONTRARY TO THE LAWS APPL [...]
On: 07/17/17 08:28

a small explanation
(1 total trackbacks)
Tracked at yerba mate gourd
Find here top quality how to prepare yerba mate without a gourd that's available in addition at the best price. Get it now!
On: 07/09/17 07:07

The Real Stuff
(2 total trackbacks)
Tracked at Candy Blog
[...] LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ALL PARTIES IRREVOCABLY SUBMIT TO THE J [...]
On: 06/11/17 10:40

when rape isn't rape but only sexual assault
(1 total trackbacks)
Tracked at Trouser Blog
[...] took another century of Inquisition and repression to completely eradicate the [...]
On: 06/07/17 03:37



DISCLAIMER
Allanspacer

THE SERVICES AND MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE HOSTS OF THIS SITE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF SATISFACTORY QUALITY, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, WITH RESPECT TO THE SERVICE OR ANY MATERIALS.

Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.

THE INFORMATION AND OTHER CONTENTS OF THIS WEBSITE ARE DESIGNED TO COMPLY WITH THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THIS WEBSITE SHALL BE GOVERNED BY AND CONSTRUED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ALL PARTIES IRREVOCABLY SUBMIT TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE AMERICAN COURTS. IF ANYTHING ON THIS WEBSITE IS CONSTRUED AS BEING CONTRARY TO THE LAWS APPLICABLE IN ANY OTHER COUNTRY, THEN THIS WEBSITE IS NOT INTENDED TO BE ACCESSED BY PERSONS FROM THAT COUNTRY AND ANY PERSONS WHO ARE SUBJECT TO SUCH LAWS SHALL NOT BE ENTITLED TO USE OUR SERVICES UNLESS THEY CAN SATISFY US THAT SUCH USE WOULD BE LAWFUL.


Copyright © 2004-2015 Domain Owner



GNU Terry Pratchett


Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
free counters