J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Real and Virtual Commemorations of Pope Night

I celebrated Halloween by dressing up a new website about Pope Night in New England. Take a sneak peek if you want; it’s still a work in progress. My favorite detail newly added to the Pope Night saga I’ve already explored is how, after that pro-British, anti-Catholic holiday became politically incorrect in Revolutionary America, the rituals had so much appeal that people reinvented it as a way to attack Benedict Arnold.

This website will be launched like a skyrocket in conjunction with the Bostonian Society’s upcoming public lecture:

Bonfires, Effigies, and Brawls: Colonial Boston Celebrates Guy Fawkes’ Day
Monday, November 5, 2007, 6:30 p.m.
Old State House
This event is free and open to the public

Remember, Remember the fifth of November... Every 5th of November the people of Britain celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes and his fellow Catholic conspirators to blow up the English Houses of Parliment on November 5, 1605.

In colonial Boston, the celebration was called Pope’s Day; on this day working people staged parades, bonfires, and other events to demonstrate their angry sentiments toward both Catholics and the British monarchy.

Prof. Brendan McConville of Boston University and Prof. Cynthia Van Zandt of the University of New Hampshire will explore how this once politically and religiously charged holiday rose and fell out of colonial practice.
Feel free to send feedback through the email address on the site. Just don’t get me upset enough to build an effigy, parade it around the house, and burn it.


Judy said...

You may be interested in linking the BBC mini-documentaries on Guy Fawkes Day that are on Youtube
Actually, there are lots of videos on Youtube relating to Guy Fawkes Day but the BBC mini-docs are pretty interesting. There is also an 8 part documentary The Gunpowder Plot-Exploding the Legend in which they actually blow up a mock Parliment. The end result was if they had succeded no one would have been left alive.

J. L. Bell said...

For easy clicking, here's Judy's link.