So it’s bonfire night again as the country commemorates the moment when a disgruntled Catholic terrorist tried and failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament – which is kinda weird, when you think about it, isn’t it?
Imagine if disgruntled Muslim terrorist Osama Bin Laden had tried and failed to blow up the Twin Towers, would people a few hundred years from now make masks out of his face, while setting off fireworks that spell out Allah Akbar in the sky and throw flaming paper airplanes at each other? Probably… but what would have happened if Mr Fawkes had actually succeeded in his plot?
The world would be a very different place.
The United States Could Have Been Colonised By The French
One of the things to happen in the immediate aftermath of the Catholic plot was the rise of the Puritans, zealous Reformed Protestants who saw it as their God-mandated duty to purge England of all forms of popery. As well as spitting on stained glass windows depicting saints, and insisting that Purgatory’s a load of old bollocks, they were also instrumental in pushing the colonisation of the New World.
Without the increased animosity towards the Catholic minority, it’s entirely possible that Puritanical movements wouldn’t have taken hold in England – and America would have been colonised by the French or Spanish. So instead of sitting around eating Big Macs, watching Arnie kick ass in Terminator, we’d be eating croissants and brie while Gerard Depardieu plays a slightly depressed, cigarette smoking robot sent back in time to become the world’s greatest lover, or something else vaguely French. Or, more likely, Spain would have conquered America and Spanish would have become the international language, meaning this sentence would actually be getting typed en Espagnol. They’d also probably be the best football team in the world, winning World Cups for the craic. The horror.
Shakespeare May Never Have Written His Plays
As King James I was widely known to be a patron of ol’ Willy Shakes, it’s entirely possible that, had he perished in the bombing of Parliament, then Shakespeare’s career may have stalled or ended. It’s probably safe to say that he wouldn’t have written Macbeth, widely considered to have been inspired by the plot itself.
In a world without Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have had to have torturous lessons on Romeo and Juliet in school, there’d probably be no canon of English literature, and Kenneth Branagh would have fuck all to do.
Ireland Could Have Been A Far More Influential Player In The Union
Despite thinking that the English Catholics would have gained the throne after the plot, what’s far more likely is that the ruling Protestant nobles of the time would have been able to quickly restore order and orchestrate an even more vicious backlash against Catholics than what occurred.
In this atmosphere, it’s not difficult to imagine that the Puritan movement would have been forceful in carrying out Protestant plantations in Ireland, conquering the country more fully than it actually did, and making it a vital part of the UK.
Or, the Catholics would have somehow won the throne despite the odds, enacted a Catholic renaissance in England by securing a pliable Catholic monarch to the throne and embraced Ireland as a Catholic stronghold vital to this new Catholic United Kingdom. This would probably have meant that Scotland would have been the hotbed of religious sectarianism in the British Isles and Daniel Day-Lewis would be pretending the be Scottish instead of Irish to secure film roles.
There’d Be No More Mr Nice Guy
‘Guy’ as a synonym for man would never have come into popular use as it was originally meant as “a repulsive, ugly person” in reference to Fawkes, but has changed over the years. So musical fans will be devastated as Guys & Dolls would never have existed, or been called Lads and Lassies, and based in Scotland. We’d have probably taken some other historical English hate figure and then bastardised his name… “I won’t be home till late love, just going for a few pints with the napoleons.”
Anonymous Would Probably Just Wear Balaclavas Or Stockings
The Guy Fawkes mask, as featured in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, wouldn’t be the go-to mask for activists from Anonymous to wear. Instead they’d probably just wear the less noteworthy balaclava or stockings over their heads. Although in a world without the U.S. engaging in widespread spying of civilian populations, Anonymous probably wouldn’t even need to exist.